WRTR for Parents: Lesson 2

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

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This is a continuation of a parent series on WRTR.

Rules for Spelling NOT Reading

This is the BIGGEST sticking point for parents.  It took me YEARS to realize that these are only rules for SPELLING pronunciation.  Compared to a program like All About Spelling or Recipe for Reading, this program seems CRAZY.  This is why.  Spalding teaches a very efficient way to learn your spelling words and organize them into a portable marking system.  AAS and R4R teach you to decode/encode according to ACTUAL pronunciation.  That’s great, but WAY MORE COMPLICATED.  Forget 29 rules!  Lots and lots and lots of patterns-clues-rules.

Example: Rule 5.  Y and I CLEARLY have a 3rd vowel sound when you talk and read.  But not for spelling, they don’t!  Not if you want an easy system to always remember if the sound is spelled with E, I or Y.  All of the rules on this page work for reading except Rule 5.  Don’t let the other rules hypnotize you into thinking these are reading rules.  They aren’t. 

Rules 1-3: (p 54, 223, WRTR)

1.  Q is always followed by U. 
(or “Q is a chicken.” or “Qu is always a consonant digraph.”)

It seems like a silly rule, but it is important to know that the U is NOT part of the vowel.  Otherwise, quit would have a vowel team in the middle of it and be pronounced like suit.  You won’t see it written in the spelling words, but when you do the last part of the dictation routine or the “question” part of the oral phonogram review, you mention it.

2.  C before e, i or y says /s/

I find that Rule 2, as written, is helpful for explaining why some spelling or sounding out attempts are incorrect, but it’s a “negative.”  You know how we have the kids do the “positive” statement for the 10 commandments?  Well, to help explain this rule, I will give you the reverse situation.

For /k/, “K takes e, i , y, and C takes the rest”

This is the reverse of Rule 2.  This is why cat, cot, and cut, but then kit, kept, and sky (not cit, cept, scy). Rule 2 explains why K has to take the other situations.  C will say it’s second sound if it’s in front of those other guys!  Figuring out which /k/ to use comes up more often than figuring out which /s/ to use, so it’s nice to understand the COMPLETE picture.

3.  G before e, i, or y MAY say /j/

This one can be a pain.  It explains gym, gem, age, giant, and Angie, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.   See get, gift, giggle.  Again, the complete picture will help.

“English words don’t end in J, say no way!”

So to get a /j/ at the end of words like fudge, huge, and the like, we need a GE.

Again, these rules don’t come up in the actual dictation markings, but you reference them in the phonogram review and when you do the rule explanations at the end of dictation. Like so:

(Dictation complete on the board)

Me: Let’s talk about these words we dictated. “Quiet” Why is the u with the q?
Kid: Because u always follows q and isn’t a vowel.
Me: Why is the qu underlined?
Kid: Because it is a multiletter phonogram that makes one sound.
Me: Why is the i underlined?
Kid: Because it is saying /I/.
Me: Why did we write R. 5 ?
Kid: Because “i” is saying /I/.

Vowels: Rules 4-6 (p 55, 223, WRTR)

4.  At the end of a syllable, a, e, o, and u say their name.

In Spalding, she has you “pronounce for spelling” so belong is /bee-long/.  When you divide a word into chunks, the best bet, if there isn’t two consonant phonograms, is to divide right after the vowel phonogram.  If it’s a single vowel, then it will be pronounced long for spelling.

5.  I and Y only say /i/ and /I/

Spalding has you pronounce the word “navy”as /nA vi/.  Short i.  Not because that’s how you SHOULD say it, but it’s how to say those words for their spelling rules.  Like you say feBROOary to spell it right.  It’s annoying, but it really does avoid spelling errors.  Just ignore the part in the Ayers lists where she says that we say it that way for reading too.  Read it normal when you review the lists for “reading.”  Say it normal for a quiz. You only use the funky pronunciation when dictating or “reading for spelling.”

  6.  If you hear /I/ or /i/ at the end of a word, write Y.

Rule 5 is annoying, but if you use it “for spelling” then the kid never puts an “e” at the end of a word like “navy.”  You dictate /na vi/ and he write “navy” every time.  But after your spelling dictation, talking through the markings, reading the list for spelling…you get to read them all NORMAL.  It will be okay.

Clear as mud?  Read over my teaching cards p 7-8

NEXT…WRTR for Parents: Lesson 3



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lauren September 1, 2015

I appreciate your sharing this, but I feel so overwhelmed. I can barely follow along and grasp all of this, so I don’t see how I should expect my 8 year old to understand it, much less RETAIN it. I’ve always felt that way about WRTR. I love the idea of intensive phonics, but did no one even TRY to develop a way to make this kid-friendly? You’re doing a great job with it here, but it’s just so MUCH. I guess I need encouragement!

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2 admin September 2, 2015

I’m so sorry! I think we all cry of WRTR in the first few years. I’ll email you.

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3 Jane Ellen Jones August 20, 2015

Your CATS explanation is FABULOUS!! Thank you for sharing all your work, I truly appreciate it!

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4 admin August 21, 2015

YAY! I thought I was the only nerd that liked it.

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