Spelling to Complement Reading | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S4:C22:L113

Spelling to Complement Reading

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can read high-frequency words: "today," "always," "both," "laugh," "does," "again," "may." (RF.1.3)
    • I can decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mapping graphemes to phonemes.
    • I can read first-grade words that "don't play fair" in isolation.
  • Work Time A: I can spell words with long vowel sounds like "snow" and "gray." (RF.1.3)
    • 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 a word with a vowel team (two vowels that make a long vowel sound) in the middle.

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 A.
    • Determine whether they can segment a given word, isolate each sound in the given word and write the vowel teams “ay” or “ow” for the /ā/ and /ō/ sounds respectively.



1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

A. Mid-Cycle Review: High-Frequency Word Fishing: "today," "always," "both," "laugh," "does," "again," "may"

2. Work Time (10 minutes)

A. Spelling to Complement Reading

3. Closing and Assessment (2 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)

  • segment, decode (L)


  • High-Frequency Word Cards
  • 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: "today," "always," "both," "laugh," "does," "again," "may"

  • (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 in the "pond" (center of circle).
  • Begin the High-Frequency Word Cards 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: "does"), 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: "both"), 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 and segment each sound.”

  • Sentences to use:
    • “Today the sky is gray and the snow is slow.”
    • “The yellow sun is going away.”
  • Distribute whiteboards, whiteboard markers, and whiteboard erasers.
  • 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: ‘Today the sky is gray and the snow is slow.’” Teacher leads students in counting words in the sentence. (nine)

3. Teacher says: “So if our sentence has nine words, we can draw nine lines on our board.”

4. Teacher asks:

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

5. 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.”

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

7. Teacher asks:

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

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

8. 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.”

9. Students reread their sentence to check for errors.

10. Teacher writes the first word in the sentence on the board while students compare their spellings to it.  Teacher facilitates conversation around key features of the word as needed. Example:

“How is the /ā/ sound spelled in this word?” (“ay”)

11. Repeat step 10 with each word in the sentence.

12. Teacher circles the words “today,” “gray,” “snow,” and “slow.”

13. Teacher asks:

“What do we notice about the position of the vowel teams ‘ay’ and ‘ow’ in these words?” (They are at the end of single-syllable words and at the end of a syllable in a two-syllable word.)

14. If time allows, repeat steps 2–13 with second sentence.

  • Consider removing steps 3 and 4 as students may not need to write lines for each word in the sentence.
  • During step 5, consider asking questions to support students’ metacognition as they spell using the vowel team spelling patterns in this cycle. Example:

“I see how you wrote the sounds you heard in that word. What letters did you use to show the sound

  • Consider allowing students who need additional help to match graphemes to phonemes to use sound boxes as a scaffold as they write spoken words from memory.
  • As students reread their sentences, they should be reminded to read it exactly as it is written. In other words, if they write “cot” for “coat,” they should say “cot” when they read it over. This will continue to reinforce the connection between writing and reading.
  • Between steps 7 and 8, consider asking a volunteer to share out anything important they may have noticed about their spelling.
  • Consider annotating the vowel teams using the captain’s hat or another symbol to denote the role of the first vowel in the team. Consider allowing students to skip drawing lines for each word in second sentence.
  • Seeing that the vowel teams “ay” and “ow” are at the end of a syllable will support students in committing the pattern to memory in words. It will also help them with the complex task of teasing out when to use “ai” vs. “ay” and “oa” vs. “ow” when spelling that vowel sound in words.

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 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

Either today or another day this week after the Decodable Student Reader has been introduced, follow the Decodable Student Reader routine with each group. Differentiate the routine as needed based on students' microphase. Refer to the Independent and Small Group Work guidance document (see K-2 Skills Resource Manual) for full routine and Decodable Student Reader 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 and CVC words using letters and sounds students are working on.

Partial Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading to include more words in each sentence, or include words with the vowel patterns from a previous cycle. Consider leading the original Spelling to Complement reading practice, where students focus on segmenting and spelling single words. Suggested words to use: "snow," "throw," "play," "stay."
  • Suggestions for working with students at the early to middle PA phase:
    • Use the Decodable Reader from the current cycle and Cycles 14-18 to examine spelling patterns for long vowel sounds.
    • Use the Word List from Lesson 106 to work with vowel team patterns 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:
    • Any Activity Bank activity from the Vowels category (V)

Full Alphabetic:

  • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading to include two-syllable words using combinations of the syllable types learned to this point (closed, open, CVCe).
  • Check in with Accountable Independent Reading.
  • Follow up with Word Lists and exit tickets. Analyze words that were more challenging and discuss why.
  • Invite students to write silly poems or stories using the vowel spelling patterns learned so far. Students can illustrate and share their poems, or create a class poetry book.
  • Consider working with an appropriate common text, making connections to the CVCe patterns introduced, and holding text-based comprehension.

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