“Aye, Aye Captain!”


A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Ashley Runyon


Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence i_e = /I/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations and correspondences appear differently in different words.  In this lesson children will learn to not only recognize words that have i_e in them, but also spell and read them. They will learn a meaningful representation (pirate saying “Aye, aye Captain!”). The  students will spell and read words containing this correspondence in a Letterbox lesson as well as read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence i_e = /I/.


Materials: Graphic image of pirate; cover-up critter; whiteboard or smartboard, Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher (Eureka Letter Tiles): s, t, r, i, k, e, r, d, p, n, g, l, v, h, c, m; box of crayons for each table/group of students; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: ice, ride, time, spin, mine, drive, glide, stripe; decodable text: The Bike Ride, and assessment worksheet.



1. Say: To become the expert readers I know you all can be, we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Remember that we have already learned to read short vowel words with i, like sticky micky and itsy bitsy. Today we are going to go one step further on the journey to be an expert reader and learn about long I and the silent e, or tricky e, signal that is used to make i say its name, /I/. When I say /I/ I think of a really cool pirate saying “Aye, aye Captain!” [show graphic image]. Haven’t you ever heard a pirate say that? Great! Now let’s look at the spelling of /I/ that we are going to learn today. One way to spell /I/ is with the letter i and a signal e at the end of the word to tell me to say I’s name. You may call this e the tricky e or the silent e because you can’t hear it, yet it is very important because it tells the I’s name. [Write i_e on the board.]  This blank line here means there is a consonant after i, and at the end of the word there is a little silent, or tricky, e signal. A good way to remember this spelling is “i blank line e says what I use to see—eye (I)!”


2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /I/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /I/ in words, I hear i say its name /I/ and my mouth is wide open and my lips never touch just like this! [Make vocal gesture for /I/.] I’ll show you first: bike. I heard i say its name and I felt my mouth go wide open [put a finger on opened lips to show they are not touching and to look like a capital I]. There is a long I in bike. Now I’m going to see if long I is in pip. Hmm, I didn’t hear i say its name and my mouth didn’t open up really big. Now you try. If you hear /I/, put your hands to your forehead like you are saluting a Captain and say, “Aye, aye Teacher!” If you don’t hear /I/ say, “Aye? Not this time.” Is it in mine, pan, like, did, time, lips? [Have children put their hands to their forehead to salute when they feel /I/ say its name.]


3. What if I want to spell the word strike? “I did not want to do my homework so I went on strike.” Strike means to not do something or refuse to do something in this sentence. To spell strike in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count like this: /s//t//r//I//k/. I heard 5 phonemes so I will need 5 boxes. I heard that /I/ just before the /k/ so I’m going to put an i in the 4th box and the silent, or tricky, e signal outside the last box. Let’s see what the word starts with. Oh, that’s simple; it starts with /s/ so I’ll need an s. Now it gets a little bit harder so I’m going to say it slowly, /s//t//r//I//k/. After the s I believe I heard /t/ so I’ll put a t in the next box. Okay, there is one more box before the /I/, let’s see what letter it is. I need to sound strike out one more time. /s//t//r//I//k/, I think I heard /r/, the sound a dog makes when it is growling. I am going to place an r in that box! Let’s see, now I only have one empty box. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word: /s//t//r//I//k/.] The missing one is /k/. Perfect! That wasn’t too bad was it? Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with smile on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the i_e; that part says /I/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it: s-m-i_e, /smI/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound, /smI-l/. Oh, smile, like “I love when students walk in with a big smile on their face!”


4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. Even though I know you all are amazing and can do this, let’s start out a bit easier and use just two boxes. The word you are going to put in the letterbox is ice. Ice is that frozen block you put in your drinks to make your drinks nice and cold. A sentence with ice would be “I went to the freezer and grabbed two pieces of ice for my drink.” You ready to try it? Great! What should go in the first box? [Respond to children’s answers]. What goes in the second box? What about silent or tricky e, did you remember to put it outside the boxes? I’m going to walk around the room and check your spelling. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Once you hear the sound, then keep your ears open and listen for /I/. Make sure you don’t forget to put the signal silent or tricky e at the end, outside all of the boxes.  Here’s the word: ride, I want to go for a car ride; ride. [Allow children to spell remaining words:  time, spin, mine, glide, drive, and stripe.]


5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. Let’s read all together! [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individual students to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]


6. Say: You’ve done an amazing job! I am so impressed with you all being able to read words with our new spelling for /I/: i_e. Now we are going to read a book called The Bike Ride. Nate is a boy who sleeps, a lot. He sleeps so much that he almost slept the day away. His sister Jan and friend Tim wanted to do things outside. They went hiking and realized that they should wake up Nate. They decided that it would be a good idea to get Nate to come outside if they flew a kite and let Nate ride a bike. Will Nate want to wake up and decide to play with Tim and Jan? Is he ever going to be fun? Let’s pair up and take turns reading The Bike Ride to find out what happens!  [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class The Bike Ride aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]


7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson about one way to spell /I/ = i_e, I want to see if you all can read me this awesome story, The Bike Ride. I want each of you to read a page of the text aloud as the rest will follow along. We will all take turns reading a page. Does anyone have any questions? [Teacher will note errors and grade each child individually as each child reads.]



Amy Berger, Aye, Aye Captain: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/odysseys/bergerbr.html


Murray, G. (2007) The Bike Ride. Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html


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