Spelling to Complement Reading | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:S4:C25:L128

Spelling to Complement Reading

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Daily Learning Targets

  • Opening A: I can read high-frequency words: "himself," "together," "through," "always," "really," "about," "afraid," "sometimes," "only," "come." (RF.1.3)
    • I can decode regularly spelled one-syllable words by mapping graphemes to phonemes.
    • I can use what I know about the types of syllables to decode (read) a two-syllable word.
    • I can read first-grade words that "don't play fair" in isolation.
  • Work Time A: I can spell two-syllable words like "himself" and "really." (RF.1.3, L.K.2, L.1.2)
    • I can identify and say the first, middle, and final phoneme (sound) in a one-syllable word.
    • I can use what I now about common spelling patterns to correctly spell words with those common patterns.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Observe students during Opening.
    • Determine whether they can read the high-frequency words for this cycle.
    • Also 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 identify the vowel sounds in one and two-syllable words.
    • Also determine what spelling patterns students use to spell the vowel sounds in one- and two-syllable words.



    1. Opening (3-5 minutes)

    A. Mid-Cycle Review: High-Frequency Word Fishing: "himself," "together," "through," "always," "really," "about," "afraid," "sometimes," "only," "come"

    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, syllables, divide (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: "himself," "together," "through," "always," "really," "about," "afraid," "sometimes," "only," "come"

    • (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 the High-Frequency Word Cards in the "pond" (center of circle).
    • Begin the High-Frequency Word Fishing instructional practice. See Spelling to Complement to Reading lessons from Modules 1-2 for a more detailed description of the procedure.
    • As students identify the words, consider asking:

    "How many syllables are in the word?" (Answers will vary.)

    "How do you know?" (number of beats, number of vowel sounds)

    "What vowel sound(s) do you hear in the word?" (Answers will vary.)

    "How is the vowel sound spelled in the word?" (Answers will vary.)

    • Because many high-frequency words are difficult to define (example: "through"), 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.

    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 listening for syllables and sounds.”

    • Sentences to use:
      • “David invites Andy and his sister to run around in the garden.”
      • “After they finish, they will read a story together about a sailboat and a snowstorm.”
    • 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 what we know about the vowel patterns we’ve learned this year. Some of those will be one-syllable words and some will be two-syllable words. Let’s think about what we can do to help us spell new words.”

    2. Teacher says: “tadpole.”

    3. Teacher asks:

    “What strategy can I use to spell this word?” (Listen for the syllables, listen for the vowel sound in each syllable, and think about how to spell that vowel sound.)

    4. Teacher says: “I hear two syllables in the word ‘tadpole’: ‘tad-pole.’ I’ll say the first syllable and listen for the vowel sound ‘tad.’ I hear /a/.

    5. The ‘a’ is closed by the consonant ‘d.’”

    6. Teacher writes “tad.”

    7. Teacher repeats the process with the second syllable: “pole.”

    8. Teacher says: “Now it’s your turn.”

    9. Teacher says the sentence aloud: “David invites Andy and his sister to run around in the garden.”

    10. Students repeat.

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

    12. Teacher asks:

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

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

    13. Teacher says: “Great! And now we can check our sentence to see if we spelled each word using what we know about the vowel spelling patterns we’ve learned.”

    14. Students reread their sentence to check for errors.

    15. Teacher writes the first word in the sentence on the board while students compare their spellings to it.

    16. Teacher facilitates conversation around key features of the word as needed.

    17. Teacher asks:

    “How is the /ī/ sound spelled in the word ‘invite’?” (magic “e”)

    18. Repeat step 14 with each word in the sentence as needed.

    19. If time allows, repeat steps 8–17 with second sentence: “After they finish, they will read a story together about a sailboat and a snowstorm.”

    • Invite students to practice each word before writing by tapping one finger for each syllable 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 might be patterns you have observed them struggling with. This might also include drawing their attention to a key strategy or to words on the Interactive Word Wall.
    • As students reread their sentences, they should be reminded to whisper-read it exactly as it is written. In other words, if they write "invit" for "invite," they should say "invit" when they read it over. This will continue to reinforce the connection between writing and reading.
    • Between steps 12 and 13, 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 other symbol to denote the role of the first vowel in the team. Consider allowing students to skip drawing lines for each word in the second sentence.
    • Consider using just one sentence if pressed for time. The other can be used during differentiated small group instruction 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 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. Example: "I divided the word into syllables. Then I listened for the vowel sound in each syllable. That helped me figure out how to spell it.")

    • 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.

    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.
    • Suggestions for working with students at the early to middle PA phase:
      • Use the Decodable Reader from the current or a prior cycle to examine spelling patterns for long vowel sounds.
      • Use the Word List from Lesson 126 to work with two-syllable words 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 Syllable Pattern category (SP)

    Full Alphabetic:

    • Extend the work from Spelling to Complement Reading. Use the Word List from Lesson 126 as a resource.
    • 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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