Beginning Reading
Brittany Roberts

Rationale:  In order to become skilled readers, students must develop skills that will help them decode words successfully.  Part of learning to decode is being able to distinguish between long and short vowels.  With vowels, students must understand that each vowel makes more than one sound.  This lesson will review the correspondence a = /a/ and introduce a_e = /A/ using direct instruction, decodable books, and pseudo-words. 





1.  First, review a = /a/, then introduce a_e = /A/.  Say:  "Today, we are going to talk about the letter a.  We have learned that a says /a/ in words, but the letter a can say another sound.  When we see the letter a, then a consonant, then the letter e, the letter a says its name /A/.  Let's look at the word made.  (Write made on the dry erase board.)  We can see that the letter a is followed by a consonant (d), and then has the letter e on the end.  Do we hear the letter e said at the end of the word?  /m/ /A/ /d/… mad!  No, we don't hear the e so it's silent.  That e just lets you know to say /A/ instead of /a/.  Let's take another look at the word made.  If we take off the e, what word do we have?  (Erase the e).  Mad, good job!  Let's try another word.  (Write can on the board).  What word is this?  /c/ /a/ /n/… can.  Now if I add an e to the end, that changes how we say the word.  (Add the e on the board).  Now it says /c/ /A/ /n/… cane!  Now you will try."  (Repeat sequence with the words hat/hate and glad/glade. 


2.  Teacher explains:  "We will practice finding when A says its name.  I have a tongue twister for us to say to find that /A/ sound.  I will say it first, then we will repeat it together.  "Dave the snake waved to Kate."  Let's say it together, "Dave the snake waved to Kate."  Great job!  Now, we are going to stretch that /A/ sound out nice and long!  I will say it, then we will say it together.  "Daaaave the snaaaake waaaaved to Kaaaate."  Together:  "Daaaave the snaaaake waaaaved to Kaaaate."  Awesome!"


3.  The next step is to practice a_e = /A/ using the Elkonin letterboxes.  The students will have already used this method to learn various other correspondences prior to this lesson.  The lesson consists of review words with short vowel sounds, and uses the new correspondence.  The words are broken down by the number of phonemes, from 2 to 5 phoneme words.  The teacher will use a set of an Elkonin box and letters to model a word for the students.  Teacher explains: "We are going to use our letterboxes to help us spell some words.  Today, we have learned that the a_e­ = /A/.  That e is silent, so it will not go in a box.  The e will sit directly on the outside of the box so we know to say /A/ instead of /a/.  Let me show you how I would spell the word scrape.  The first sound that I hear is the /s/, so I am going to put the letter s in my first box.  Now this word has a lot of sounds at the beginning, so I am going to stretch it out really slow to hear them all.  Ssss-cccc-rrrr-AAAA-pppp.  I have my s in the box and the next sound I heard was /c/.  I'm going to put my c in the next box.  S-c-rrrr-AAAA-pppp.  There's the r, so I'll put that down next.  Scr-AAAA-ppp.  I hear my long A!  What does that mean?  I will place the letter a in the fourth box and because it says it's name, I have to put that e on the end.  I'm still missing a sound, so I'll say the word one last time.  ScraA-pppp.  P, that's what I'm missing.  (Teacher hands out letterbox bags).  Students, please get out your letterboxes and letters.  I am going to give you some words to spell. 


The following words will be used for the LBL.  They include review vowels as well as the new correspondence.  It is helpful to say a sentence after each word so students understand the context.

2 phoneme words: ate

          3 phoneme words: puck, made, cab, date

          4 phoneme words: plane, frog, drake, spat

          5 phoneme words: scrape

Next, write the words the students spelled on the board.  Call on one student at a time to read the selected words.  Depending on the class size, students can read one, two, or all of the words. 


4.  Pass out individual copies of James and the Good Day.  Say:  "Now students, we are going to read a great book called James and the Good Day.  You will get into pairs and read out loud to one another.  If you have a problem, raise your hand and I will help you.  This story is about a little boy named James that wakes up on a Saturday and decides to play.  He really wants to play with his tug, so he makes a lake in his bathtub.  James gets tired of waiting so he leaves the room to play with his other toys.  But soon, the lake overflows onto the floor!  What is James going to do?  Will he get in trouble with his Mom?  Let's read to find out!"


5.  After reading, students will take out a sheet of primary paper and a pencil.  Teacher instructs:  "Friends, it's time to write a message!  I want you to write me a message about your favorite thing to do on a Saturday.  If you don't know how to spell a word, use your invented spelling to do the best you can."


6.  Pass out a worksheet to each student with the words HAT, GAP, CAN, AT, SAM, and MAT printed on it.  Students should read the words altogether.  Teacher will then instruct students to rewrite the word with an e on the end.  The students will then read the new words.  This activity reinforces a_e = /A/. 


7.  For assessment, the teacher will call students up to the desk individually.  Each student will be given a set of index cards with pseudo-words printed on them.  Students will then read the words to check for understanding of a = /a/ and a_e = /A/.  Example words could be:  KAD, PLAME, MAG, HADE, CHAM, and PAKE. 


            James and the Good Day.  (Phonics Readers-Long Vowels. Educational Insights. 1990).

            Mosley, Merdith.  (2006).  I Ate Grape Cake.


Click Here to Return to the Voyages Index