Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't laugh... major breakthrough

I was helping my 2nd grader read her decodeable books this evening and all of the sudden I noticed the helping e rule of thumb for whether a vowel is going to be long or short, except for "v" words. (i.e. the "i" in hide is long and the "i" in hid is short, long "a" in made, short "a" in mad. I don't know if there is an official name for it)

I told my daugher the rule, then practiced it for a bit, and it was amazing how quickly her reading improved in a matter of minutes.

Instead of guessing long or short vowel sounds, now she can figure it out most of the time. I swear her reading speed improved by 50% within half an hour.

I am an extremely fluent reader, and this simple rule of thumb never occurred to me consciously until tonight. I had somehow internalized the rule without being aware of it. What I can't figure out is why her 1st grade teacher never pointed it out to her. Perhaps she would be reading on grade level.

I also pointed out that "v" words are weird and don't always follow this rule. i.e. "ive" words can be short or long, and ave words are almost always short.

Teaching kids how to read is hard. You would think someone would come up with a systematic way to teach all the phonetic sounds and letter combinations, instead of relying on a parent to stumble on them by accident.

6 comments:

KDeRosa said...

Paraphrasing from Direct Instruction Reading, 4th Ed.

In a VCe pattern word, a single vowel is followed by a consonant, which in turn is followed by a final e.

In approximately 2/3 of the one-syllable words containing VCe patterns, the intitial vowel represents the long sound. In the other 1/3 in which there is a VCe pattern, the vowel sound is sometimes the most common sound of the initial vowel (give) and sometimes a sound that is neither the most common sound nor the long sound (done).

Since the initial vowel represents its long sound in many one-syllable words, we recommend teaching the rule that when a word ends in e, the initial vowel says its name. The other VCe words should be treated as irregular words.

Once the student has mastered th discrimination between CVCe and CVC derivatives (hopped vs, hoped), the student can be taught to use context cues to determine the identity of irregular VCe words. The student is intructed to first pronounce the word with the liong vowel initial sound and then if does not make sense then student is to pronounce the word eith the short vowel sound to see if the word makes sense in context.

There are other ways to teach this discrimination. The advantage of this system is that we know it works.

Parentalcation said...

now you tell me...

rightwingprof said...

I guess I'm out of touch with the latest edulingo. Decodeable books? As opposed to ... ?

Btw, how's Alaska? Barbecued any moose yet?

Anonymous said...

When I was taught to read - so long ago that the method was still called "phonetics" rather than "phonics" - we were taught that most of the time, the "e" on the end helps the vowel before it "say its name," i.e., makes it long. This stuff wasn't a deep dark secret 40+ years ago.

Anonymous said...

I was just have a forth grade home work brain cramp. You saved me from pulling anymore hair out of my head!!
Thank You

VickyS said...

My son was in a Waldorf school through 2nd grade and entered 3rd grade reading well below grade level. I hired a reading tutor who taught him this wonderful phonics rule, along with many others. I believe the tutor's instructional approach was derived from Orton-Gillingham. It was absolutely liberating for him! He is a logical kid and finally had the tools he needed to become a good reader (and a better speller).

As an aside, Orton-Gillingham is often associated with special ed but I think its utility is probably much broader than that. Likewise, in our district the special ed kids who are lucky enough to have an IEP that pulls them out of Everyday Math get Saxon. Go figure.