Last year, I did a series on teaching the six syllable types. Teaching the six syllable types is a phonics-based approach to teaching decoding and encoding (reading and spelling). Research shows that a phonics-based approach is the best approach for most students, especially those with a specific learning disability in reading (aka dyslexia).
I made this sheet for easy reference. I plan to print and laminate, so my students can refer to it. I can give the cue, “It’s a closed syllable,” and students can refresh their memory. They need, of course, to be thoroughly taught first.
We have been looking at data tracking and student growth. In Part I, we looked at the importance of a good data tracking system, and in Part II, we discussed three reading assessments I recommend.
Today, we will be looking at recording data. There are many ways you can record data, but for me, a good old fashioned spreadsheet works best. If you are a teacher who collaborate with other teachers or shares students, I recommend using Google Sheets. This way, you will both have direct access to data.
Here is how I approach data collection:
Create a spreadsheet and make separate pages for each assessment.
On the first page you create, list student names along left column.
Copy and paste student list to each new assessment page.
Decide how you want to label columns. For example, for Dibels assessment (I talk about this in Part II), have columns for: Fall Words Per Minute, Fall Error Medium, and then do the same for winter and spring.
Enter score for each student.
This is a very basic description of data collection. Each teacher will discover what works best once they start a systematic data system. Some teachers prefer a paper chart in a binder; others learn to customize their charts, color code, and make graphs. There are many ways to approach data collection. The important thing is to have the data, and have it organized and readily accessible.
In Part I, I wrote about how important it is for teachers to have an efficient data tracking system in place. In Part II, we will look at some of the assessments I use, and how I use them to measure student growth.
A few reliable assessments I like to use include:
Dibels (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy). I use this assessment to measure grade-level reading fluency. The good news is–it’s FREE! (The not so good news is it takes a long time to assemble once printed and is somewhat confusing to assemble) Type “Dibels” in your search engine and download from the University of Oregon. At the beginning of the year, make packets for each student and grade level (for me, that means grades K-6). Give your students each 3 one-minute timed passages to read. This will take place three times a year in fall, winter, and spring. Each time, calculate the words per minute for the three passages, as well as errors, and record the median score. You will now have your student’s grade level fluency rate. This is great solid data to have, and will show whether your students are making growth in their decoding and fluency.
DRA, (Developmental Reading Assessment). I have worked at four different schools, and they have all had a set of DRAs. As such, I am hoping you have access to this assessment. The DRA will give you a fluency rate once students are decoding, but I like to use it primarily to look at reading comprehension and writing skills. The assessment has a range of what it tests, depending on grade level, but once students are decoding, they read a passage and answer comprehension questions and write a passage. It is always a good idea to have a leveled writing assessment. This will show whether students are on grade-level, ahead, or lagging behind. The one tricky thing about the DRA is it is graded based on a rubric, and though mostly structured, it can be a little more subjective when graded depending on the teacher.
QPA (Quick Phonics Assessment). This is another assessment that you can download for FREE. A colleague recently introduced me to this test, and I really like. Each subtest looks at different phonetic reading skills, and gives you a good idea where to focus. For example, you may see a deficit in r-controlled vowels, vowel teams, and multisyllabic words. This, in turn, helps guide your teaching instruction and address areas of need and deficits.
I hope this helps! In Part III, we will look at tracking methods, and what to do if you find you have a student (or students) who isn’t showing growth. Have a wonderful weekend!
Vowel Teams are common letter combinations that include at least one vowel.
In Part I, I gave a brief overview of Vowel Teams. Below are some examples of Vowel Teams, and how you might see these used in teaching. I hope this helps!
ai, ay (wait, train, pay, stay)
au, aw (haunt, paw)
ee,ey,ea (seed, key, bead)
oi, oy (coin, toy)
oa, oe, ow (coat, toe, row)
ou, oo, ue, ew (soup, tool, cue, blew)
You may have heard the jingle (or have seen a video), “When two vowels do the walking, the first one does the talking.” For instance, in the word “bait,” the /a/does the “talking,” as in a long a sound. There are some cute free videos teaching this concept on the internet.
Vowel teams can be tricky as the same team can make different sounds. For example, /ea/makes a long e, but can also make a short e, as in bread) Teach the most common pronunciation first, and if this pronunciation does not make sense, try different vowel team sounds.
Vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, and words with the similar or same vowel sound are often taught alongside each other in reading lessons and worksheets. For instance, the following long vowel a sounds might be taught together: ai, ay, and a-consonant-silent e as insay, bait, bake, plane, train, etc. This helps students concentrate on one vowel sound at a time.
Vowel Teams are the sixth syllable type we will discuss.
Vowel Teams are letter combinations that include at least one vowel. For example, the /ay/ in the first syllable, and the /ea/ in the second syllable of the word “daydream” each make a vowel team.
There are some distinctions among vowel teams. They are:
Vowel Digraphs are two vowels together that make one sound, such as ee in beet.
Vowel Diphthongs occur when one vowel sound glides into another, such as oi in toil.
Vowel Teams can consist of different letter combinations/not all vowels, such as igh in light or ow in cow.
For simplicity, I teach two vowels side by side using the phrase, “Vowel Teams,” rather than the more technical terms above. Teaching vowel teams is fundamental in teaching reading. I will discuss more in next post.
The vowel before the vowel is neither long nor short.
If you have been teaching for a bit, you may have heard simple words with this syllable type as having a “bossy r.” This is because the r controls the vowel. R-controlled syllables can be part of multisyllabic words.
Some examples are:
ar: car, far, tar, star, car·pet, mar·ket
er: her, hy·per,
ir: firm, bird, dirt
or: born, torn, worn, for·get
ur: turn, churn, sur·vey
These words are often best taught together, and in context. For example, students need to know the meaning of fur versus fir.