Are you Hearing me, /e/?

Amber Shamburger, Beginning Reading



Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence e = /e/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling e. They will learn a meaningful representation (hard of hearing /e/), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence e = /e/.


Materials: Graphic image of hard of hearing; cover-up critter; whiteboard or Smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling and individual Elkonin letterboxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or Smartboard letters for teacher: e, c, d, k, n, o, p, r, s, t; list of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read: set, men, bed, ten, rat, fed, step, sped, spat, strep; decodable text Elf in the Tent, and assessment worksheet.



1. Say: In order to become expert readers we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned to read short vowel words with a, like bat, and today we are going to learn about short e that says /e/. When I say /e/ I think of someone who is having a hard time hearing; they may put their hand to their ear like this (demonstrate and show picture) and say /e/. So when we see an “e” in word without another vowel, like in bet (write on whiteboard or Smartboard), we know it says /e/.


2. Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /e/, we need to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /e/ in words, I hear e say /e/ and my mouth opens like this [Make vocal gesture for /e/.] I’ll show you first: best. I heard e say /e/ and I felt my mouth open like this [make vocal gesture for /e/]. There is a short e in best. Now I’m going to see if it’s in beat. Hmm, I didn’t hear e say /e/ and my mouth didn’t open all the way up. Now you try. If you hear /e/ say, “/e/, I can’t hear, /e/.” If you don’t hear /e/ say, “That’s not it.” Is it in met, ten, pot, pet, step, bit?


3. What if I want to spell the word felt? “I felt the puppy’s soft fur.” Felt means touched in this sentence. To spell felt in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word so I stretch it out and count: /f//e//l//t/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /e/ just after the /f/ so I’m going to put an e in the 2nd box and f in the first. That gives me /f//e/; I need /f//e//l//t/. I hear /l/, so I’ll put l in the 3rd box. Now I have /f//e//l/… I’m missing the /t/. So I’ll put a t in the last box. That’s /f//e//l//t/ [point to the letters in each box as you sound it out].

Now I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with slept on the top and model reading the word.]  I’m going to start with the e; that part says /e/. Now I’m going to put the beginning letters with it:

s-l-e, /sle/. Now I’ll put that chunk together with the next sound, /sle-p/. Just one sound left, so I’ll add it, /slep-t/. Oh, slept, like “I slept until my alarm went off.”



4. Say: Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out easy with three boxes for set. You can set down your pencil or book bag. I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word, also. Listen for the beginning sound to spell in the first box. Then listen for /e/.  Here’s the word: men, The men were working on the road; men. [Allow children to spell remaining words, giving sentences for each word: bed, ten, rat, step, spat, strep]


5. Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled. [Show the words set, men, bed, ten, rat, step, spat, strep, the extra words sped and fed. Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]


6. Say: You’ve done a great job spelling and reading words with our new spelling for /e/ = e. Now we are going to read a book called Elf in the Tent. This is a story about a girl named Jan, her dad, and her cat, Elf. Jan and her dad are going on a trip and Elf tags along. Let’s pair up and take turns reading Elf in the Tent to find out what happens to Elf. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Elf in the Tent chorally, stopping between page turns to discuss the story.]



7. Say: Before we finish up with our lesson on how to spell /e/ = e, I want to see how well you identify the short e in words. On this worksheet, we have some words listed. Your job is to read the words and circle the ones that have e = /e/, then see if you can write the words in ABC order. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



Reading Genie, Short Vowel /e/ “hard of hearing” picture:


Murray, G. (2007) Elf in the Tent. Reading Genie:


Assessment worksheet:


Hayes Adams Eh? What's that you say? (Similar Lesson on this correspondence)




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