Spelling to Complement Reading | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S2:C10:L53

Spelling to Complement Reading

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can read high-frequency words "by" and "there." (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 CVCC, CCVC, and CCVCC words like "plop" and "blast." (RF.1.2, RF.1.3, L.K.2, L.1.2)
    • 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.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening A.
    • 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 helps identify the high-frequency word.
  • Observe students during Work Time A. 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 ("by," "there")

2. Work Time (10-15 minutes)

A. Spelling to Complement Reading

3. Closing and Assessment (2 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)
    • Predetermine 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" one. Alternatively, consider including a few cards for selected students to "catch."
    • Because there are only two high-frequency words identified in this cycle, predetermine three to four additional high-frequency words for Opening A. Consider high-frequency words from previous cycles that may need additional review for mastery.


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

  • decode, segment (L)


  • High-Frequency Word Cards (teacher-created; one per word; 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, and 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 ("by," "there")

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

"Ga-a-ther around to-gether, to-gether, to-gether. Ga-a-ther around to-gether, to-gether, 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 be more proficient readers because they are words that we see a lot in reading and use a lot in writing."

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

4. Student volunteers read the Word Card and place it back into the pond.

5. Continue to play until all Word Cards have been caught and identified.

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

"No-o-w it's time to lis-ten, to lis-ten, to lis-ten. No-o-w 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. Look how smart we can be!"

  • Words to use (listed in order of suggested priority if time is limited): "plop," "blast," "slack," "track," "brick," "splat," "blend," "plop," "blunt," "drum," "drums," "slug."
  • Begin the Spelling to Complement Reading instructional practice:

1. Using the teacher sound board, teacher models the practice once if necessary.

2. Teacher distributes the student sound boards, whiteboard markers, and whiteboard erasers.

3. Teacher says the first word: "plop," pronouncing each phoneme separately.

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

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

6. Students print a letter in each box for each phoneme in the word.

7. Students erase the word.

8. Repeat steps 3-7 with the remaining words as time allows.

9. Teacher checks to see that students have erased their whiteboards, then repeats the first word.

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

11. Repeat steps 9-10 with remaining words as time allows.

  • Invite students to practice each letter before writing it in the box by extending their arm and writing it in the air.
  • Depending on your students' needs, stop 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.
  • The "dr-" and "tr-" consonant clusters can be challenging for many students. Consider exaggerating the articulation of each consonant in the consonant clusters so that students see and hear each letter retain its own sound.

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).

All Groups
The Reader's Toolbox routine should be used with every group today or another day this week. Teacher may also choose to use a flex day to teach the routine in whole group. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for full routine and the Planning and Recording Template.


  • Aim small group instruction at building students' knowledge and skills of letter identification and phonological awareness.
  • Use the Assessment Conversion chart to determine appropriate Kindergarten lessons and Activity Bank ideas to use in daily small group instruction.
  • The Spelling to Complement Reading instructional practice can be used to work with VC words using short vowels and single consonants.

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading 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 CVC words or words with easy-to-pronounce consonant clusters (example: "sk-"), providing support with articulatory gestures for students to distinguish between the feeling and sound of each letter in the word.
  • 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 51 as a guide. Consider also using two-syllable decodable words (closed syllable to start, e.g., "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 Syllabication Guidance Document 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 K-2 Skills Resource Manual).

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