WRTR for Parents: Lesson 1

in 3GRD, 4GRD, 5GRD, 6GRD, Phonics/Reading, Short Course, Spelling, WRTR

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Writing Road to Reading makes parents crazy.  Hopefully, this site can help you struggle through.

First, let’s give you an idea of how a regular Spalding Spelling lesson goes in a public school.  We don’t do it this way, but you need to understand it for the book to make any sense!

How a Spalding Classroom Lesson Goes

For each spelling lesson, the teacher goes through the following routine:

  1. Review “sounding” some hard phonograms.
    • The children sound the words from the cards.
    • They back through and ask questions about usage.  “”Can we use this phonogram at the end of a word?”
  2. Review writing some hard phonograms from the sounds.  Here’s a video of steps 1-2.
  3. Dictate 5-10 words according to “spelling” into the notebook. 
    • The teacher says the word.
    • Kids (and teacher until they don’t need help) segment the sounds according to spelling. “Baby, /bay bi/”
    • Kids say sounds softly and write each one.
    • Kids dictate it back to the teacher, together saying underlined syllables and rules as teacher writes on board.
    • Kids correct their paper to match what the teacher wrote.
    • At the end of the list, the teacher talks them through the rule applications and syllable division.
  4. Read the word list (and others in notebook) according to spelling.
  5. Read the word list (and others in notebook) according to reading. Here’s a video of steps 3-5, and another.

Now, our lesson plans don’t call for all that every day, but knowing the usual classroom structure should make the book make more sense!

Now Do This

  • Print my teaching cards on regular paper so you can scribble on them.
  • Go back and read Ch 1 of WRTR (and p84-85 5th edition about language rule application) and the front matter of Mari’s book.

Prerequisites and How It’s Done (p 46-53, WRTR)

Open your book to page 46 and note what she goes over every year before booting up dictation. There are all kinds of note sprinkled over the next 7 pages that you may want to highlight, but the meat and potatoes are below. Mari’s text doesn’t mention this, but I think it’s assumed your child already mastered it.  Just verify that you understand the following:

  • Vowels are an open-voice track sound, without lips, teeth, or tongue obstruction. a, e, i, u, o, and sometimes y.
  • Consonants are all other letters.
  • Vowel phonograms have a vowel sound in them. (er, igh, a, ay, etc.)
  • Consonant phonograms have NO vowel sounds. (th, p, tch)
  • A syllable is one impulse of breath and contains one and only one vowel phonogram. (Why it’s crisp, not kerisp.)
  • Segmenting/counting means breaking a single syllable into its phonograms for dictation.  bark: /b/-/ar/-/k/, 3 sounds.
  • Segmenting a multi-syllable word mean breaking a word into syllables for dictation.  /bark/-/ing/

Clear as mud?  Try my teaching cards pages 1-2.

Syllable Division (p 226-227, WRTR)

Spalding teachers go over syllable division with every multi-syllable word in the Ayers list (p 52).  Check out page 226-227 for her explanation of the patterns. Again, this isn’t really mentioned in the MoDG materials, but it’s an important piece.  Unfortunately, WRTR assumes you understand it already.  See the short list below.

My version of her patterns:

  1. If it’s there, “Count back 3, chop consonant-L-E”
  2. If there’s only one consonant sound between two vowel phonograms, divide after the first vowel phonogram. 
  3. Divide between compound words.
  4. Multi-letter phonograms stay together, even when it screws everything up.
  5. If there are 2+ consonant sounds between two vowel phonograms, divide between, keeping “blends with their friends,” if you can.
  6. The affix stands alone.

I teach syllable division to my kids with CATS:

  • Examples of 1: jun gle
  • Examples of 2: ti/ger, chee/tah, cou/gar
  • Examples of 3: bob/cat
  • Examples of 4: chee/tah, cou/gar
  • Examples of 5: kit/ten, pan/ther
  • Examples of 6: sub-stan-dard kit-ty

Pattern #2 notes:  What about words like CAMEL? Cam-el words are weirdos.  Having one consonant in there and dividing after it, making the vowel short, is not typical.  Notice that camels are not CATS.  (Important later:  Camels aren’t born from adding a suffix to a CAT word.  Camels are camels and cats are cats.)  So, for reading, teach the child that if there’s only one consonant, FIRST divide after the vowel and make it long.  If that doesn’t sound right, it might be a weirdo camel word.

Also important to note, some letters DON’T double. “Cover” isn’t a camel word. There’s no such thing as “covver.” It’s not disobeying. Camel could really be “cammel” right?  Other letters that won’t double = h, j, k, v, w, y and s saying /z/. (Acronym to remember the single letters. Happy Jumbo KittenS Wearing Yogurt Vests)

Missing Rule:  If there are NO consonants between the vowel phonograms, divide between them.  li/on

Clear as mud?  Try reading over my teaching cards pages 3-6.

NEXT:  WRTR for Parents: Lesson 2

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Michelle July 10, 2015

“My daughter has been going through a similar program for dyslexia intervention. When I say “similar” I mean that it is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, as is WRTR, but it’s organized better differently. ”

Can you tell me what this “different” program is? I would like to do some research for my daughter. Thank you.


2 admin July 10, 2015

Lexercise. Since we were trapped in the house for a year with the baby, we opted for an online therapist. It’s been fantastic.


3 Michelle July 11, 2015

Thank you.


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