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Teaching Phonics: Sound-Spelling, Blending & Dictation

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Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Phonics is the basic relationship between various letters to sounds and is a key aspect of language development. Identify the main components of phonics that use a variety of teaching strategies: sound-spelling, blending, and dictation. Updated: 11/30/2021

Phonics

Mrs. Riggins is a first-grade teacher who works with many students at many different levels in their literacy development. Some of her students are already proficient and independent readers, while others are still emergent readers, readers who are only just learning how to decode and understand the relationship between written and spoken language. Mrs. Riggins used to feel that it was impossible to meet so many different needs at once, but, over the years, she has learned to use particular strategies that help different students.

Mrs. Riggins understands that, regardless of their level, her students will benefit from explicit instruction in phonics, or the relationship between letters and sounds. Though phonics should never be the only element of literacy instruction, Mrs. Riggins knows that students with a solid foundation in phonics will be better equipped to decode unfamiliar words, be stronger spellers, and ultimately be more fluent and independent readers. She uses a variety of strategies to work on phonics with her students.

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  • 0:04 Phonics
  • 1:01 Sound-Spelling
  • 2:12 Blending
  • 3:33 Dictation
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Sound-Spelling

One of the most important aspects of phonics is sound-spelling. Sound-spelling refers to transcribing speech sounds into written language, whether or not the sounds are in context. Students who can accurately spell out sounds have a strong phonological awareness, or a sense of the way letters and sounds connect to each other and operate at the word and even syllable level. To work on sound-spelling with her students, Mrs. Riggins has her students do activities like these:

  • Sort pictures based on the initial sounds, middle sounds, or ending sounds of words, then write the words in such a way as to emphasize the sounds they share
  • Listen to books, poems, and songs, then write down the letters and sounds they hear most
  • Play games involving listening to and producing rhymes, all the while discussing the way the rhyming syllables are spelled

Emergent readers often need many opportunities to spell out the initial letters or blends in words, whereas more proficient readers and writers are prepared to work on more advanced areas, such as spelling ending or middle sounds, or spelling polysyllabic words. Mrs. Riggins groups her students according to ability for sound-spelling activities so that children can work at their own phonics level.

Blending

Blending refers to putting sounds together in order to make a word. For instance, Mrs. Riggins knows that she has students who can read the separate sounds in the word 'cat' because they know which sounds correspond to which letter. However, if students can't blend, the word will sound like three separate syllables, 'cuh,' 'ah,' and 'tuh.' The inability to blend sounds becomes more problematic in longer and more complex words.

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