The Speedy Six Spelling Routine
Learn how to do this as intended when you attend training!
Use this activity to explore Sound Pics not covered in the 4 Code Levels.
Also join the Orthographic Mapping group for ongoing support.
Why are we doing these activities?
To develop automaticity in word recognition, beginning readers must acquire alphabetic coding skill (also called phonological decoding skill), which is the cognitive ability to map letters and letter patterns onto phonological forms (Shankweiler & Fowler, 2004).
Alphabetic coding skill includes not only knowledge of correspondences between single letters or digraphs (e.g. f, b, sh, oa) and single phonemes (e.g. /f/, /b/, /sh/, /o/), correspondences between groups of letters (e.g. tion) and groups of phonemes (e.g. /shun/), and polyphonic spelling patterns (e.g. ear as in bear and hear; own as in clown and flown), but also knowledge of more complex conditional rules. These are rules whose application depends on position-specific constraints (e.g. the digraph gh at the beginning of words corresponds to /g/ as in gherkin, ghetto, ghost, and ghastly) or the presence of “marker” letters (e.g. the letter e indicates that the pronunciation of a vowel is long rather than short, as in hop versus hope; tap versus tape; cut versus cute; bit versus bite). The sounds of some letters are highly context-sensitive. For example, the letter y signifies one sound in final position of two-syllable words (e.g. baby, happy), another sound at the beginning of words (e.g. yes, yell, yogurt), and yet another sound in single open syllable words (e.g. by, my, cry). Alphabetic coding skill also draws upon morphophonemic rules that speakers of English know implicitly through language acquisition, for example, that the morpheme for regular noun plural inflection (represented by the letter s in English orthography) is realized as /s/ when it follows an unvoiced consonant,
as in sacks, and as /z/ when it follows a voiced consonant, as in sags. Readers with advanced alphabetic coding skill can rapidly and easily pronounce non-words like jit, med, dut, prew, thrain, and fruice (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011).
Making use of known relationships between letters and phonological units to identify unfamiliar written words is the basic mechanism for acquiring word-specific knowledge, including knowledge of irregularly spelled words (Ehri, 2005, 2014; Snow & Juel, 2005; Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011). Each successful identification of a word strengthens the word specific, sub-lexical connections between its constituent letter sequence and corresponding phonological sequence in lexical memory. This process provides the basis for constructing the detailed orthographic representations required for the automatization of word recognition, which Ehri (2005, 2014) calls “sight word” knowledge. Correctly identifying words on the basis of letter-phoneme correspondences just a few times ultimately establishes their orthographic representations firmly in lexical memory, from which additional letter-sound patterns can be induced without explicit instruction (Share, 1995, 2004).
Using the cognitive process model of listening comprehension presented earlier, Figure 4 depicts the transition from analytic word recognition that relies solely on the use of alphabetic coding skills, to automatic word recognition that relies on the establishment of word-specific, sub-lexical connections. For beginning readers who continue to rely mostly on partial visual cues supported by contextual guessing at the expense of phonological information, there is little interaction between the subcomponents of written and spoken words. The word recognition skills of
these children will remain relatively weak because they do not develop as rich a network of sub-lexical connections between orthographic and phonological representations in lexical memory as normally developing readers do. Because of their inefficient and capacity draining word recognition skills, children who do not make use of letter-sound relationships in word learning will experience progressive deterioration in their rate of reading comprehension development as they grow older (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011).
Traditional phonics programs have been used to explicitly teach alphabetic coding skills to beginning readers. However, these programs generally suffer from two major shortcomings. First, they tend to be strongly teacher-centered and have curricula that are rigid, fixed, and lock-step, with the same skill-and-drill lesson given to every child in the same sequence. Such an approach to teaching beginning reading conflicts with the basic principles of differentiated instruction because it fails to recognize that the individual literary learning needs of children vary greatly depending on their specific levels of development across the set of reading component skills shown in Figure 1. Second, most phonics programs incorrectly assume that children can only acquire knowledge of letter-sound patterns through direct instruction in which the teaching of letter-sound correspondences is explicit and systematic. The difficulty with this assumption, however, is that there are simply toomany letter-sound relationships in English orthography for children to acquire by direct instruction, probably between 300 and 400 (Gough & Hillinger, 1980). Much, if not most, of what children learning to read in English come to know about its written orthography is acquired through implicit learning, especially knowledge of context sensitive letter-sound correspondences that depend on position-specific constraints or the presence of other letters (Bryant, 2002; Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011; Venezky, 1999). In contrast, letter-sound correspondences acquired by direct phonics instruction are fewer in number and are largely context free, involving one-to-one correspondences between single letters or digraphs and single phonemes. As the reading attempts of beginning readers who have acquired basic alphabetic coding skills become more successful, the orthographic
representations of more words become established in lexical memory from which additional spelling-sound relationships can be induced without explicit instruction. As children continue to develop in reading, they begin making greater independent use of letter-sound information to identify novel printed words in text. Once this point is reached, the most effective way that children can achieve further progress in learning to read is through print exposure, as reading itself can provide practice opportunities for building fluency and for facilitating implicit learning of additional letter-sound patterns (Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011).