Tag Archive | syllables

Fieldwork Reflection #5

Dates: Monday, May 06, Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Site:
St. Paul Lutheran School, All day kindergarten
Cooperating Teacher: Mrs. Novak
Total hours together:
3 hours 10 mins
Total for EDU344:
20 hours of 20 hours

 

On Monday I finally had time to work on the final assessment from my unit plan with Luc. First I had him reread the words he had missed last time we played the “word train game: need, dear, under, river, storm, herd, corn, fame and paper. I also included other words he had gotten right last time. Like the previous time, he had to put these words into train groups by vowel. He missed storm, herd, corn and fame again. The “or” sound seems to be a major issue for him. He also really struggled with fame, which was odd because he read all of the other A words with a final e perfectly fine. I even told him to rhyme fame with came or same, but he couldn’t process it. We talked about the silent or “magic” e and that it turned the a into a long /a/ sound, but Luc still could not pronounce the word. Eventually I sounded out the whole word for him.

The freezing on the word fame is very puzzling, and I am not sure what to make of it. I know his mother has been working on the “silent e” with him, and I also know that words like same and came are sight words for the class. So perhaps, he memorized some a words with final e by sight, and he has not mastered how to decode any unfamiliar words with this vowel structure.

After we finished our word trains, I had Luc read The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss. This particular text features quite a few of the vowels correspondences that Luc is struggling with, including vowels with a final e, vowels preceded or proceeded by an r, and vowel diagraphs. There were 131 words altogether, and he read 118 words correctly, including self-correcting most of the words he initially read wrong. His reading for this book was at independent level.

Some of his reading errors were due to thoughtlessness and rushing. For instance, he would see the word “foot,” but instead of closely looking at the middle vowels, he would just read it as “feet,” or vice versa. Also, later in the book he read “left” instead of “feet.” He had seen the e, f and t of the word “feet” and because the book had just used the word “left” he read the current words as “left” as well. I had him stop and reread this portion because he had made the same mistake several times in a row. I told him to really closely examine each word as he read and to slow down.

The final assessment I had concocted was to have Luc play a word ladder game. In this activity, the student starts with one word at the top of the “ladder,” and he has to trade one letter in to create a new word on the rung below. For example, the “r” in read is traded in for a “b” to create bead. The “d” in bead is traded in to make beat, etc. This assessment is used to determine whether the student understands that spellings of vowels and consonants must change in order to create new sounds. Unfortunately, while Luc understood the concept of the game, he could not change any of the letters to form new words on his own. So I ended up just walking him through the whole process. I think part of his confusion was that he still hasn’t grasped that vowel combinations can make different sounds. For instance, Read can be read with a long /e/ as in feed, or with a short /e/ sound, as in bed. This inconstancy in the English language is still baffling for Luc. In many cases, he doesn’t know whether he is reading an English word correctly or not, because he has never heard the word before.  At least for the majority of other kindergarten students they have heard the word before and have schemata connected to each word. Luc is still building his schema.

Assessing and Correcting Reading and Writing Difficulties: Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine continues looking at the decoding of language, this time focusing on reading multisyllabic words. There are two approaches to teaching syllabic analysis: the rules approach and the pattern approach, and both techniques can be used in conjunction with the pronounceable word-part and analogy strategies that were discussed in the previous chapter.

 In the rules approach, the reader works in a very similar way as in reading single syllable words, by parsing the words into clusters or chunks. However, because the words are longer, the chunks are longer too. So instead of simple onset and rimes like d-og or b-ird, the words are now split on the syllables, such as an-i-mal or fla-min-go. If students are having difficulty spotting syllables, Gunning suggests first introducing the concept using compound words such as starfish, ladybug, blackbird, etc. First get the child to separate the two words from each other and then have the reader parse the words even further, (for example, jellyfish becomes jelly and fish and then becomes jellyfish).

 The pattern approach works off of the rules approach, but instead of merely presenting one long polysyllabic word to the student, the teacher “starts with a single-syllable word and shows how multisyllabic words are related to it” (301). The example Gunning gave was starting with the word tie, then moving to the two-syllable word ti-ger and then mixing it up with spi-der, di-ner and mi-ser.

 Another way to teach students syllable analysis is through morphemic elements like affixes (aka prefixes and suffixes). Morphemes are the smallest unit bearing meaning in a word. The morphemic approach is the method I still employ to decode unfamiliar words. For instance, if I was reading a historical paper about 19th century England for some ungodly reason, and I stumbled upon the word antidisestablishmentarianism, I would start decoding the word by finding the affixes I was familiar with, which are the following: anti, dis, ment, ian, and ism. I would also look for other words hidden in the longer word. In this case we have establish (or establishment, if we add that suffix and remove it from our affix list). Once I have parsed this word thusly, I am able to find how the morphemes are connected to each other. For instance, the suffixes ment and ian are linked by the morpheme ar, so when I read the whole word, those three morphemes will be pronounced together. Then I can sound out the whole word as anti-dis-establish-mentarian-ism, or anti-disestablishment-arian-ism, or any concoction I can invent. As Gunning points out, it doesn’t matter where you divide the word, “as long as [your] analysis of the word enables [you] to pronounce it,” (299). When I decode a word it takes little more than a second to do it, but when students are just beginning to read, or if they have difficulties, they can struggle for minutes on one word. Practice is very important to ensure that readers develop their decoding skills. If they practice enough, eventually it will become second nature to them, and that is what all teachers strive for when educating their students.

 

Thomas G. Gunning, Assessing and Correcting: Reading and Writing Difficulties, rev. ed. (Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon, 2010), 299-306.