UP, UP, UP AND AWAY WITH THE LETTER U!
RATIONALE: For children to read successfully, they need to understand what phonemes are and develop phoneme awareness. They should also know that letters map out phonemes. Research has proven that the best way to attain this goal with students is through explicit phonics instruction. Vowel sounds are very important in beginning this instruction because we can find at least one vowel in any word in our language. It is also better to teach children the short vowels first, as their correspondences are much more easily spelled, and therefore, more easily learned. This lesson will help the students identify the letter u and learn its sound /u/. During this lesson, students will learn u = /u/ and practice its vocal gesture through various exercises. They will then further their understanding of this phoneme through a letterbox lesson.
1.) Introduce the lesson to the class: Begin by explaining to students about how letters map out sounds (phonemes). “Written words make up a secret code for spoken words. Today we are going to learn how to use the secret code for the letter u. Once we know the code, we’ll be able to read and write words that have the letter u. Have you ever had someone ask you a question that you didn’t know the answer to? You normally say “uh…” don’t you? Well that’s the sound the short u makes. So to remember this, let’s try pretending someone has just asked us a question we don’t know the answer to. We’re going to say /u/ and raise our hands upwards to show we don’t know. Ready? Great job!
2.) Introduce the tongue twister: Hold the sentence strip up for the children to see. “This is a sentence that uses our short u sound a lot. I am going to say the sentence once, and then I want you to repeat it. Ready? Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up (emphasize the u in each word). Okay, now you say it. Good! Now let’s see if we can say it three times in a row and really stretch the u sound out. Great!”
3.) Introduce letterbox lesson to students: Have large letterbox set mounted on wall or board and have large letters handy. “Let’s see if you call can name a few words that have our /u/ sound in them (write given words on the board). Good job. Now we’re going to practice with the letter u more by doing our letterboxes, just like we’ve done before. Does everyone remember that we only put one sound in each box (model sample word for children on large letterbox set)? Let’s all try it together now (hand out letterboxes and letter manipulatives to students). Let’s see if we can spell the word bug /b/ /u/ /g/. Great job!” Continue doing this with the students with more words that begin with u. Start with 3 phoneme words (rub, sun, gum) and then progress to 4 phoneme words (stub, bust, bunny). Make sure to walk around the room and scaffold students who need the help.
4.) Have students read the words back to you: “Now that you’ve all spelled these words, I am going to spell them one at a time on my letterboxes and I want you to read the word back to me. Ready?” Spell the words one at a time, preferably in a different order so they aren’t relying on memorization to spell. Provide enough time between each word for students to answer and scaffold the group if they answer incorrectly.
5.) Introduce the story: “Fuzz is a curious little bear that loves getting into things! One day, he happens upon a bee hive and Buzz is suddenly surrounded by bugs! How will he get away?! You’ll have to read to find out!” Have students get into small groups and read the story Fuzz and the Buzz by Sheila Cushman. This will help reiterate the short u correspondence. Listen closely for miscues. In a follow-up lesson you could take a running record.
6.) Assess the students: Hand out worksheets containing pictures that have the u correspondence. “I want you to look at each picture and decide if the word contains our /u/ sound in it. When you find a picture with that sound, color it.” You might even encourage students to spell the word by writing it under the picture. Walk around and check students as they do the worksheet. Use the worksheet to see if students have a good understanding of the u correspondence. If not, do another lesson on u the next time.
Eldridge, J. Lloyd. Teach
Decoding: Why and How.
2. Kristin Herren: “E-e-e-e-e? Can’t Hear You Sonny!” http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/herrenbr.html
3. Bruce Murray: http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/twisters.html
Bruce and Lesniak, T. “The Letterbox
Lesson: A Hands-On Approach to Teaching Decoding.” The
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