Spelling to Complement Reading | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S1:C3:L18

Spelling to Complement Reading

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can read high-frequency words: "at," "in," "and," "this," "look," "like," "looks," "likes," "his," "with." (RF.1.3)
    • I can decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mapping graphemes and phonemes.
    • I can read first-grade words that "don't play fair" in isolation.
  • Work Time A: I can segment, blend, and spell CVC, VC, CCVC, and CVCC words. (RF.1.2, RF.1.3, L.1.2, L.K.2)
    • I can identify the sounds that correspond to "sh" and "ch."
    • I can blend two or three phonemes to form a spoken word.
    • I can identify and say the first, middle, and final phoneme (sound) in a one-syllable word.
    • I can say a two-phoneme or three-phoneme word and segment (break apart) into individual phonemes (sounds) in order.
    • I can write the letter or letters for most of the consonant and short vowel sounds I hear.
    • I can use what I know about common spelling patterns to correctly spell words with those common patterns.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening.
    • Determine whether they can match grapheme to phoneme, phoneme to grapheme, and blend phonemes together to make a word.
    • Determine whether they can explain how letter-sound knowledge helped in identifying the high-frequency word.
  • Observe students during Work Time. Determine whether they can segment a given word, isolate each sound in a given word, and write the grapheme for each phoneme in a word.



1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

A. Mid-Cycle Review: High-Frequency Word Fishing: "and," "at," "in," "look," "looks," "like," "likes," "his," "with"

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Spelling to Complement Reading

3. Closing and Assessment (3-5 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • High-Frequency Word Cards (see supporting Materials)
    • Teacher sound board (one to display)
    • Student sound boards (one per student; horizontal row of three boxes on one side and four on the other; can be printed and laminated or put in a sheet protector sleeve; students can then write on them with whiteboard markers; see supporting Materials for a template)
  • Pre-determine a method for identifying students to "catch" high-frequency words in the Opening. Consider including at least one card per student so all students can "catch


Key: Lesson-Specific Vocabulary (L); Text-Specific Vocabulary (T)

  • decode, segment (L)


  • High-Frequency Word Cards (teacher-created; one for each word; see supporting materials)
  • Teacher sound board (from Cycle 2, Lesson 11; one to display)
  • Student sound boards (from Cycle 2, Lesson 11; one per student; horizontal row of three boxes on one side and four on the other; can be printed and laminated or put in a sheet protector sleeve; students can then write on them with whiteboard markers; see supporting materials for a template)
  • Whiteboard markers (one per student)
  • Whiteboard erasers (or tissues, socks, etc.; one per student)
  • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)


OpeningMeeting Students' Needs

A. Mid-Cycle Review: High-Frequency Word Fishing: "and," "at," "in," "look," "looks," "like," "likes," "his," "with")

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together"):

"Gather around together, together, together. Gather around together, together, let's go. Stand up in a circle to think about what we've learned. Let's make some great connections with letters and sounds."

  • Randomly place High-Frequency Word Cards in the "pond" (center of circle).
  • Begin the High-Frequency Word Fishing instructional practice:

1. Students stand in a circle.

2. Teacher says: "In our last lesson, we learned some new high-frequency words. If we can read and write these words automatically, it will help us to be more proficient readers because they are words that we see a lot in reading and use a lot in writing."

3. Teacher models how to cast a pretend line and "catch" a "fish" (Word Card).

4. Teacher picks up the "fish" (word card), reads it aloud, then "releases" it back into the pond (places the Word Card back into the center of the circle).

5. Depending on teacher's management choice (see Teaching Notes), student volunteers "catch" a Word Card.

6. Student volunteers read their Word Card and "release" (place) it back into the pond.

7.Continue to fish until all Word Cards have been caught and identified.

  • Because many high-frequency words are difficult to define (example: "and"), it is important for students to hear the word in the context of a sentence to understand the word and commit it to memory. Consider extending this activity by asking students to provide a sentence for the word (or to create one with a partner and share out).
  • Because many high-frequency words are also irregularly spelled (example: "look"), encourage students to notice unfamiliar spellings and patterns. Ask:

"How did you know that ____ is a word that doesn't play fair?"

  • Remind students that the letter-sound connections can help them read and memorize the word.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Spelling to Complement Reading

  • (Suggested transition song, sung to the tune of "The More We Get Together"):

"Now it's time to listen, to listen, to listen. Now it's time to listen for each sound in some words. We hear sounds to spell words, and then we can read words. It's time to say some words now and segment each sound."

  • Words to use (listed in order of suggested priority in case there is not enough time for all): "pit," "spin," "spit," "chin," "grip," "kin," "is," "this," "inch," "sip," "sips," "lip," "flip," "zip," "zips," "ship," "kid," "it." Note: If you cannot get to every word, prioritize words 1-6.
  • Begin the Spelling to Complement Reading instructional practice:

1. Teacher pronounces the first word for students: "pit."

2. Teacher models stretching out the word.

3. Students stretch out the word.

4. Teacher models stretching out the word while counting each phoneme (sound) using the thumb-tapping technique (spread index, middle, and ring fingers, touching each with the thumb for each phoneme, beginning with the index finger; run the thumb under all three fingers to blend together).

5. Students stretch out the word, counting each phoneme using the thumb-tapping technique.

6. Teacher writes the number of phonemes on the board next to the word: 

7. Teacher writes the word and models comparing the number of letters to the number of phonemes. If the numbers are not equal (example: in the word "chin" there are four letters but only three sounds), teacher explains why: Even though "c" and "h" are two letters, they are one phoneme. Each box represents a phoneme.

8. Students read the word on the board: "pit."

9. Students say each phoneme separately as the teacher underlines the letters that correspond to that phoneme.

10. Using the teacher sound board, teacher says the word again and pronounces each phoneme separately while writing a letter in the appropriate box for each phoneme.

11. Teacher distributes student sound boards, whiteboard markers, and whiteboard erasers.

12. Teacher says the second word, pronouncing each phoneme separately: "spit."

13. Students say the word and pronounce each phoneme separately.

14. Teacher and students say the word again. Students move their index finger into the appropriate box on their sound board as they say the sound.

15. Students print a letter in each box on their sound board for each phoneme in the word.

16. Students erase the word.

17. Repeat steps 12-16 with the remaining words as time allows.

18. Teacher checks to see that students have erased their sound boards, then repeats the first word.

19. Students write the first word from memory on their sound boards by pronouncing the whole word, saying the separate phonemes, and writing the word below the boxes.

20. Repeat step 19 with the remaining words as time allows.

  • When pronouncing the phoneme /sh/, encourage students to feel the movement and position in their mouths. This provides a physical connection to the sound, deepening their knowledge about that sound. Students will experience the difference between the way their mouth moves and feels when pronouncing /ch/ and /sh/, clarifying the difference between the two similar sounds.
  • Invite students to practice each letter before writing it in the box by writing it in the air.
  • Depending on students' needs, consider stopping after the sound boxes. To provide more targeted support and feedback, invite students to write the spoken words from memory during differentiated small groups instead.
  • Consider allowing students to use sound boxes as a scaffold as they write spoken words from memory.

Closing & Assessments

ClosingMeeting Students' Needs

A. Reflecting on Learning

  • Emphasize that successful learners keep track of and reflect on their own learning. Point out that they are doing this each time they consider how what they did today helps them to become more proficient readers.
  • Invite students to reflect and share with a partner (or whole group). Ask:

"What did you do today that is helping you become a more proficient reader?" (Responses will vary. Examples: "If we say each sound slowly and think about what sound is in the beginning, middle, or end, we will get them in the right order," or "If we think about how the sounds feel in our mouth, it will help us know what letter to write.")

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Examples:
    • "When I segmented the sounds of the word _____, I _____."
    • "When I spelled the word _____, I _____."
    • "When I pronounced the high-frequency word _____, I _____."

Differentiated Small Groups: Work with Teacher

Suggested Plan: Teacher works with students in the Pre-Alphabetic, Partial Alphabetic, and Full Alphabetic groups. Students in the Consolidated Alphabetic group do not work with the teacher today.

Note: Groups not working with the teacher at a given time should be engaged in purposeful independent rotation work. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work Guidance document for more details (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual).


  • Because students in the Pre-Alphabetic phase are still working on letter identification and phonological awareness, small group instruction should be aimed at building that knowledge and skills
  • Use the Assessment Conversion chart to determine appropriate kindergarten lessons and Activity Bank ideas to use in daily small group instruction (see Assessment Overview and Resources).
  • The Spelling to Complement Reading instructional practice can be used to work with VC words using the letter "a" or "i" and single consonants from this cycle or Cycle 2.

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Extend the Spelling to Complement Reading from Work Time to include any words from the suggested list that may not have been done or new words that use the phonemes and graphemes taught to this point. For students processing words at the early-to-middle Partial Alphabetic phase, continue with /a/ CVC words. For those at the middle-to-late Partial Alphabetic phase, consider beginning with /i/ words and moving back to /a/ words, providing support with articulatory gestures for students to distinguish between the feeling and sound of the two short vowels.
  • Check in on Accountable Independent Reading.
  • Related Activity Bank suggestions:
    • An Activity Bank activity from the Decoding and Encoding category (DE)

Full Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading to include words with more complex clusters. Use the Word List from Lesson 16 as a guide. In addition, intersperse /a/ and /i/ words. Students will need to analyze the word carefully to determine the grapheme to be used. Consider also using two-syllable decodable words (closed syllable to start--example: "nap/kin") with reciprocal instruction on where to break the word when decoding (example: VCCV--locate the vowels and look between them; if there are two consonants, break it there).
  • Note to teacher: See the Module 1 Overview to learn more about syllable types and application. Also see the Phases document to determine which syllable types to focus on with students in this group (see Assessment Overview and Resources).

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