Spelling to Complement Reading | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S4:C20:L103

Spelling to Complement Reading

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can read high-frequency words: "about," "around," "again," "does," "knew," "would," "could," "over," "old." (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 spell words with r-controlled vowels like "curb" and "girl." (RF.1.3, L.K.2, L.1.2)
    • I can identify the sound that corresponds to "sh."
    • I can identify and say the first, middle, and final phoneme (sound) in a one-syllable word.
    • I can use what I know about common spelling patterns to correctly spell words with those common patterns.
    • I can decode words with other vowel patterns like "igh" and r-controlled vowels.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening.
    • Determine whether students can read the high-frequency words for this cycle.
    • Determine whether students can explain how letter sound knowledge helped in identifying the high-frequency word.
  • Observe students during Work Time.
    • Determine whether they can correctly spell words with r-controlled vowels.



1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

A. Mid-Cycle Review: High-Frequency Word Fishing: "about," "around," "again," "does," "knew," "would," "could," "over," "old"

2. Work Time (10 minutes)

A. Spelling to Complement Reading

3. Closing and Assessment (3-5 minutes)

A. Reflecting on Learning

4. Differentiated Small Group Instruction and Rotations (40-45 minutes)

In Advance

  • Prepare:
    • High-Frequency Word Cards
    • Snapshot Assessment (optional; one per student)
  • 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."


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

  • bossy "r," decode, segment (L)


  • High-Frequency Word Cards (for teacher reference)
  • Whiteboards (one per student)
  • 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: "about," "around," "again," "does," "knew," "would," "could," "over," "old"

  • (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. See Spelling to Complement Reading lessons from Modules 1-2 for a more detailed description of the procedure.
  • Because many high-frequency words are difficult to define (example: "would"), 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, 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 spell some words now and segment each sound."

  • Distribute whiteboards, whiteboard markers, and whiteboard erasers.
  • Sentences to use:
    • "Do not disturb the play when you enter with the girl."
    • "The bird sat around the corner on the curb."
  • Begin the Spelling to Complement Reading instructional practice:

1. Teacher says: "Today we are going to write sentences using words we are learning. I will say the sentence first, then we will count the number of words in our sentence."

2. Teacher says: "Listen closely first as I share our sentence: 'Do not disturb the play when you enter with the girl.' Now let's count the words in our sentence."

3. Teacher leads students in counting words in the sentence. (11)

4. Teacher says: "So if our sentence has 11 words, we can draw 11 lines on our whiteboard."

5. Teacher asks:

"Each line will show us where to write each what?" (word)

6. Teacher says: "Right! And we will listen closely to the sounds we hear in each word to use what we know about spelling patterns and high-frequency words to spell each one correctly."

7. Teacher repeats the sentence slowly, allowing time for students to write each word they hear.

8. Teacher asks:

"What do we need at the end of our sentence?" (a period)

"And how should my sentence start?" (with a capital letter)

9. Teacher says: "Great! And now we can check our sentence to see if we spelled each word using what we know about the new words we are learning this week."

10. Students reread their sentence to check for errors.

11. Teacher writes sentence correctly on board for students to check their work as students revise any errors.

12. Repeat steps 2-10 with second sentence if time allows.

  • Consider eliminating the step where students write lines for each word, depending on the needs of your students.
  • Invite students to practice each word before writing by tapping one finger for each sound they hear or skywriting the word.
  • Consider allowing students to use sound boxes as a scaffold as needed.
  • Consider drawing students' attention to key sounds or spelling patterns during step 5 that you know will support their ability to spell words. These may be patterns you have observed them struggling with. This may also include drawing their attention to a key strategy. Example: "If you know the word 'could,' you can spell 'should.'"
  • As students reread their sentence, they should be reminded to read it exactly as it is written. This will foster students' ability to edit their own work. It will also continue to reinforce the connection between writing and reading.
  • Between steps 7 and 8 consider asking for a volunteer to share out any important noticing they might have made about their spelling.
  • Consider using just one sentence if pressed for time. The other can be used during differentiated small group rotations as appropriate.

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 I say each sound slowly and think about what sound is in the beginning, middle, or end, I will get them in the right order," or "If I think about how the sounds feel in my mouth, it will help me know what letter to write.")

  • For students who need additional support organizing their ideas: Provide sentence frames. Examples:
    • "When I made the sounds for the word _____, I _____."
    • "When I heard the vowel sounds, I _____."
    • "When I divided the syllables, 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.

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading to include more words in each sentence.
  • Suggestions for working with students at the early to middle PA phase:
    • Use the Decodable Reader from the current cycle to examine the spelling patterns for r-controlled sounds.
    • Use the Word List from Lesson 101 to work with r-controlled sounds from this cycle.
    • Spend time on lessons and/or patterns from a previous cycle that may need more practice. Consider using the Assessment Conversion chart to determine an appropriate cycle.
  • Related Activity Bank suggestions:
    • An Activity Bank activity from the High-Frequency Word category (HF) or from the Decoding and Encoding category (DE)

Full Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading to include two-syllable words with the r-controlled sounds from this cycle.
  • Check in with Accountable Independent Reading.
  • Follow up with Word Lists and exit tickets. Analyze words that were more challenging and discuss why.
  • Consider working with an appropriate common text, making connections to the vowel team patterns introduced, and holding text-based comprehension conversations.

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