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Letter-Sound Correspondence

Sequence

Guidelines for determining an order for introducing letters: Introduce initially only the most common sound for a new letter. Separate letters that are visually or auditorily similar. Introduce more useful letters before less useful letters. Introduce lower-case letters before upper-case letters. Introduce the Most Common Sound The most common sound of a letter is the sound that is usually pronounced for the letter when it appears in a short word, such as man or sit. Separate Visually or Auditorily Similar Letters Separating similar letters from each other in their order of introduction reduces the possibility of student confusion. The greater the similarity between two sounds or letters, the greater the number of letters that should separate them. Two factors determine the probability of confusion - auditory similarity (how alike the most commons sounds of two letters are) and visual similarity (how alike in appearance the two letters are). Similar sounds should be separated by the introduction of at least three other dissimilar sounds. Students have the most difficulty with pairs of letters that are both visually and auditorily similar: (b, d), (m, n ), (b, p). These letters (plus e and i) should be separated by at least 6 other letters. Introduce More Useful Letters First More useful letters are those that appear most often in words. Learning such letters early enables students to decode more words than learning less useful letters. For example, knowing the sounds for the letters s, a, t, and i will allow students to decode more words than knowing the sounds for j, q, z, and x. Vowels are the most useful letters. More useful consonants are b, c, d, f, g, h, k, l, m, n, p, r, s, t. Less useful consonant letters are j, q, z, y, x, v, and w. Introduce Lower-Case Letters First Lower-case letters should be taught before upper-case letters since the majority of words in reading materials are composed of lower-case letters. A student knowing all lower-case letters would be able to decode all the words in the following sentence "Sam had on his best hat." A student knowing only upper-case letters could read none of the words. An exception to this guideline can be made for lower-case and upper-case letters that look exactly the same, except of course for size (e.g., sS, cC). These lower-and upper-case letters may be introduced at the same time. Sample Sequence Here is one acceptable sequence derived from the four guidelines.

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Rate and Practice

The rate at which new letters are introduced is contingent on student performance. Teachers working with students who enter school with little knowledge of letter-sound correspondence will find an optimal rate (one which introduces new letters quickly while minimizing errors) for introducing new letters is about one each second or third day. This rate assumes that the teacher presents daily practice on isolated sounds. Without adequate daily practice, an optimal rate is not possible. However, the rate of introduction should always be dependent on the students' performance. When the first 5 letters are being taught, a new letter should not be introduced if the students are unable correctly to produce the sound for each of the previously introduced letters. Rather than presenting a new lesson, the teacher should review previously taught lessons for several days, concentrating on the unknown letters. After the first 5 letters have been introduced, a new letter can be introduced if the students are having difficulty with just one letter-sound correspondence; however, that letter should not be similar to the letter being introduced. For example, a new vowel (e) can be introduced even though students are having difficulty with b and d. However, the vowel e should not be introduced if the students are having difficulty with any previously introduced vowel since all vowel sounds are similar.

Procedure for Teaching Letter-Sound Correspondences

The basic procedure for teaching letter-sound correspondences involves an introductory format and a discrimination format. In the introductory format, the teacher models and tests on the new letter-sound correspondence. In the discrimination format, the teacher tests the new letter-sound correspondence along with previously introduced letters. The introductory format is used the first lesson or two a new letter appears. The discrimination format starts after two letters have been introduced and appears in every subsequent lesson. Introductory Format In the introductory format, the teacher first models by saying the sound, then tests by having the group say the sound. The teacher first has the students respond in unison. Then when the teacher thinks that the group can respond correctly, the teacher tests students individually. Discrimination Format In the sounds-discrimination format, students receive the practice then need to quickly and accurately say the sound for different letters, a skill necessary for sounding out words. A new letter-sound correspondence is taught in the introductory format. If the students have no difficulty saying the sound, the letter can appear in the discrimination format on the next lesson. The teacher writes the new letter several times on the board intermingled with previously introduced letters. The new letter is written several times to prevent the students from

cueing on where the letter is written rather than on the shape of the letter. The teacher follows an alternating pattern in which he gradually increases the number of other letters pointed to between each occurrence of the new letter. During the first month of reading instruction, two isolated sounds/discrimination exercises should be included in each lesson: one early in the lesson and one later in the lesson. The reason is simply to provide extra practice. Later in the program when students begin reading words, the word reading itself will be a form of practice for letter-sound correspondences and only one discrimination letter-sound correspondence task needs to be presented in a lesson. As with the introductory sound format, the teacher has the group respond in unison until it appears all students are responding correctly to all sounds. Then the teacher gives individual turns. The discrimination format directs the teacher to pause 2 seconds after pointing to a letter before signaling the students to respond. This pause is to allow the students time to think of their response. After the students know about 12 letter-sound correspondences, the teacher can decrease the pause to about a second on letters introduced prior to the current week. Critical Behaviors Signaling Modeling Pacing Developing Automaticity Monitoring Correcting Mistakes

Direct Instruction Reading by Douglas Carnine and Edward Kame'enui.

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