Sight Word Teaching:Repeated practice reinforces wrong behavior!!!
Due to numerous irregularities, English is not phonetic!
This is a common argument used to support the absolute necessity of teaching memorizing sight-words to grade school children. When in fact many of the things critics want to label as problems with phonics are actually patterns of spelling that can be easily learned and understood by students of all ages.
Having methodically learned the letter-sound relationships of the alphabet and that ALL words are made up of identifiable sounds-inside-of-words (puzzle) pieces or sound rules-- students can and should be taught that ALL sight words are decodable, even those that appear to break the rules!!!
In other words, the spelling irregularities that often occur in the English language can be UNDERSTOOD and/or strategically introduced by their phonetic spelling patterns.
ALTHOUGH REDUNDANT it needs repeating: reading fluency demands an instant mental connection of letters and sounds and all words should reflexively be broken down.
to the root
Think of the 26 letters of the alphabet as the root sounds
Rules for teaching exceptions to ROOT sound rules:
1. Never teach beginning readers SIGHT WORDS -- The ability to memorize words is not the same as reading
2. Always teach students how to SOUND-OUT or decode words.
3. Only teach one concept at a time
a. lettter sounds
b. exceptions to (root) letter sounds
(introduce 'exceptions to the rules' at age appropriate strategic intervals):See story#5 Mikey's Report Card
4.Introducing letter-sound irregularities as clown sounds is a simple concept that children of all ages can
Lots of times
will play around.
They'll clown around
and not say their
BUT students will be able to decode words and understand the concept of clown sounds or exceptions to the pronunciation rules after:
Learning the letter sounds for all 26 letters of the alphabet.
NOTE: don't assume a child will automatically know what a clown is or understand and connect the concept of the phrase clowning around. Always double check for understanding!
CLOWN SOUND - irregularities
DEMO of the WORD /as/
letter sound clowning around
This is how you teach it:
2.What is the first sound that you hear? (sliding a-sound) 3.What is the second sound that you hear? (sliding z-sound) 4.Look at the word /as/ notice how the /s/ sound that should say /s-s-s/ is clowning around and making the /z/ sound that says /z-z-z/.
* The decoding symbol for a clowning sound is a triangle.
Depending upon a child's age and skill level, only introduce 2-4 clown sounds per week, and group by spelling patterns if possible like: (go, no, so).
Also always remember to reinforce the learning throughout the week with games, reading and related activities.
Sight Word Skit:
Characters: Teacher + Child
Because I said So!
Teacher: Correct! Good Job!
Child:Then how come these letters /w/ /a/ /s/ say wuz and not w-a-a-a-s
Teacher: Because I said so!
Although maybe not this direct or blunt, because I said so is exactly the message we communicate to impressionable, literal minded children when we teach them to read by memorizing sight words.
If used sparingly this approach may work in some instances, it's quick, it's convenient and it discourages further discussion. But it's also devoid of a learning experience and it goes against the natural inquisitive nature of a child and the rules of the alphabetic sound code system.
SIGHT WORDS / IRREGULARITIES Teaching Review
Step 1:Learn the (root) letter sounds for all 26 letters of the alphabet teach lower case letters and short vowel sounds first
Step 2: Teach irregularities (clown-sounds) at age appropriate strategic intervals
Step 3: Teach 7 puzzle pieces (sounds-inside-of-words) strategy
Step 4: Continue to introduce irregularities at strategic intervals