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  • Short Vowels Skill Explainer

Blending Sounds to Read Words with Short Vowels

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Produced by Reading Universe, a partnership of WETA, Barksdale Reading Institute, and First Book
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Carla Miller: Okay, friends. So today what we're going to do is we're going to start by drilling our deck. So what you need to do is take out your tracers. Okay. So we're going to go ahead and drill the card. Ready?

Ms. Miller and students: 's', snakes, /s/

Narrator: Today instructional coach Carla Miller will be working on blending sounds with her kindergartners. She begins the phonics lesson with a warm-up, running through flashcards with keyword pictures. This daily practice helps ensure children master the sound of each letter.

Ms. Miller and students: 'i', itch, /ĭ/

Ms. Miller: Who can raise their hand and tell me why is this a different color? Why is this a different color, Hadley?

Hadley: Because it's a vowel.

Ms. Miller: Tell me about a vowel. What's a vowel?

Hadley: It's something that has to be in a word.

Ms. Miller: Very good, very good. Let's keep going.

Ms. Miller and students: 'o', octopus, /ŏ/ 

Ms. Miller: I love those octopus arms.

Ms. Miller and students: 'm', man, /m/

Ms. Miller: Okay, you guys did that so well that we are going to try it with my itty-bitty baby deck. Okay? And this time there are no pictures. So we're just going to say the name of the letter and the sound. Are you ready?

Students: Yes.

Ms. Miller and students: 'z', /z/

Narrator: Next, she uses flashcards with no pictures to ensure the children can read the sound automatically in isolation.

Ms. Miller: Good.

Students: 'a', /ă/, 't', /t/, 'c', /c/

Narrator: Ms. Miller provides quick, direct, explicit instruction to correct errors.

Students: 'b' ...

Ms. Miller: Oh, let's look again. It says straight back, big belly, 'b'. Let's do it together.

Ms. Miller and students: 'b', /b/ 

Ms. Miller: Very good.

Ms. Miller and students: 'm', /m/

Ms. Miller: So what we're going to do today is we're going to have some fun making words. Are you ready to make words?

Students: Yes.

Ms. Miller: Okay, here we go. Some of the words are going to be real words, and some might be nonsense words. Who knows what a nonsense word is? Tell me, Ilya.

Ilya: They're words that are not real.

Ms. Miller: Words that are not real. They do not make any sense. Avery already told us that our blue letters are different. What's different about the blue letters, Shane?

Shane: The vowels.

Ms. Miller: They're vowels. Very good. Okay, we're going to start by just reading a word. Okay. We're going to say each sound in the word, and then I'm going to move them a little bit closer together, and then we're going to say the sounds and then I'm going to move 'em a little closer together, but we're not going to read it until they are touching and I say "catch it." Are you ready?

Students: Yes.

Ms. Miller: Okay. So I want to hear everybody's voice. Let's do it.

Students: /s/, /ă/, /t/

Students: /s/, /ă/, /t/

Ms. Miller: [whispering] Listen for the word. Are you guys ready? We're going to catch it this time. They're touching.

Students: /s/, /ă/, /t/ ... sat.

Ms. Miller: Good. Okay. What word was that?

Students: Sat.

Ms. Miller: Sat. Okay. I want everybody to pay attention. I might ask you to read this same word. Okay. Ready? So what word was this one more time, Avery.

Avery: Sat.

Ms. Miller: Sat. What did I just do?

Ilya: Cat.

Ms. Miller: Good. What word did she read?

Hadley: Cat.

Ms. Miller: Good. What did I just do?

Narrator: Ms. Miller models and practices the step-by-step process for blending sounds into words. All the words she chooses for blending contain the sounds the children just practiced with their flashcards. Each child has an opportunity to do the work of blending sounds.

Ilya: /n/, /ĭ/, nip.

Ms. Miller: I love how you tapped that word out. Excellent. What word did she just read?

Students: nip ... nap ...

Ms. Miller: Well, let's tap it together.

Ms. Miller and students: /n/, /ĭ/, nip.

Ms. Miller: Excellent. What did I just do?

Avery: /d/, /ĭ/, /p/ ... dip.

Ms. Miller: Excellent. I'm moving over here to you. What word did he read?

Hadley: Dip.

Ms. Miller: What word do we have now?

Hadley: Hip.

Ms. Miller: Excellent. What word is this?

Shane: Hip.

Ms. Miller: Hip. Good. I'm going to change my vowel in the middle again. Are you ready?

Shane: Hop.

Ms. Miller: Hop. Excellent. We're going ...

Narrator: Children work at their own pace. Some do the work of tapping and blending aloud. Some do it in their heads.

Ms. Miller: Ilya, what word?

Ilya: Bop.

Ms. Miller: Okay. What's this word?

Ilya: /m/, /ŏp/ ... /m/, /ŏp/, ... /m/, mop.

Ms. Miller: Excellent. I love how you pulled it together at the end. Let's go ahead as a group. Can everybody see my words?

Students: Yeah.

Ms. Miller: Okay. We might run into some crazy nonsense words. Okay? Silly words that don't make sense while I do this, but let's do it. We're going to tap and read.

Ms. Miller and students: /m/, / ĭ/, /p/ ... mip ...

Narrator: The lesson ends with more practice with everyone tapping and reading words together.

Ms. Miller: Let's look at this one more time. This is a straight back, big belly. What letter is this?

Students: 'b'

Ms. Miller: What sound does 'b' make?

Students: /b/

Ms. Miller: Let's try that again.

Ms. Miller and students: /b/, /ĭ/, /p/ ... bip

Ms. Miller: Good. Is that a real word or a nonsense word?

Students: Nonsense.

Ms. Miller: All day long. Let's go to the next one.

Ms. Miller and students: /h/, / ĭ/, /p/ ... hip

Ms. Miller: Hip. Good. Real or nonsense?

Students: Real.

Ms. Miller: Real. Put your hands on your hips. Excellent. You guys did an amazing job blending our words. You're such great readers. I love it. Give yourself a little shine. Shine. I'll give you shine ...

Narrator: Enjoy this video? Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel @RUTeaching. For more information, please visit Special thanks to Burgess-Peterson Academy and Atlanta Public Schools. Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the American Federation of Teachers, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors. Reading Universe is a service of WETA, Washington, D.C., the Barksdale Reading Institute, and First Book.

Ms. Miller: This is Reading Universe.

Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the AFT, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

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