Scope & Sequence
We have used the Calgary Board of Education’s scope and sequence and cross referenced it with the research-based Orton Gillingham and LETRS suggested scope and sequences, as well, we have tried to align the teaching of phoneme/grapheme recognition and sound production with a developmental approach to printing and fine motor planning.
Linking Phonemes & Graphemes
From our experience and documented research, young children learn best when these are in alignment and are taught simultaneously. For the most part, the sequencing follows quite similarly and is logical when it comes to teaching more predictable to more complex sounds/letter, highly regular to less regular spellings and sounds, and more common to less common phonograms.
Teach each sound EXPLICITY
In grade 1 we have begun with top to bottom letters, < t > & < i > for their ease in printing and similarity in formation, and straight lines as opposed to curving lines. This is also an opportunity to discuss “tall” and “short” letters, ensuring that theyare placed correctly within an interlined journal or printing sheet.
Note that /t/ is an unvoiced consonant sound (no vibration of the vocal chords), children enjoy learning that the voice box is off for this sound and they can feel with a hand to the throat that there is no vibration/no voicebox working, just air passing through the mouth and stopped by the teeth.
Children are typically well-tuned into the more distinctive short vowel sound that <i> makes - /i/, and with the key words “itchy” which is easily remembered and has a “catchy” non-verbal cue (itching motion on your arm with the opposite hand). Whereas /a/ and /o/ are easily confused when proper mouth placement and the subtle sound differences are not stressed.
As you can see, we move into other reliable phoneme/graphemes <m> & <b>. The formation of <m> is a little more difficult with the curving humps but with repeated practice students will be successful. The nasal sound
/m/ is also easily taught and attention can be drawn to the “nasal” aspect as it vibrates in our noses and can be stopped by simply pinching the nostrils – great multi-sensory aspects!
The letter <b> is often confused with <d> because of the incredible similarity of the two forms. We have tried to separate the teaching of these two graphemes as much as possible. Remember to reinforce that <b> starts at the top and bumps on the right.
Then we move into curvy letters < c > & < a >. The small curve for <c> is foundational for <a> <d> <g> <o> <q> <s>. By adding <c> and <a>, many more words for decoding are available.
Unvoiced /k/ for the grapheme <c> can be reinforced.
Vowel <a> and /a/ is easily distinguished by very different mouth formations from /i/. Be sure to draw attention to the fact that vowel sounds are unrestricted air and sound flow, different than consonants which have some type of air restriction; teeth, tongue, or lips, with the exception of nasal /m/ and /n/ and liquid /l/ and /r/.
Is it a < b >?
Students can double check <b> with their “b” fist (left thumb up, palm facing the child) as they begin to build sight recognition of the letter b. Choose only one referent – using the left first to check <b>; makes sense
because most students are right-handed and that leaves the left fist free to check quickly. The sound /b/ is also an unvoiced phoneme, so be sure to review this concept here as well.
As much as possible, integrate multi-sensory experiences when learning the formation of the grapheme and the sound. Large arm movements or “sky writing” are fun or the use of other multi-sensory activities to practice the formation, letter name and phoneme helps to reinforce these concepts in the child’s brain. Try using; textured surfaces, shaving foam, pudding, sand, or other fun materials!
If you are using a sound wall, you will begin to add the phonemes/graphemes (phonograms) to your sound wall as you teach them explicitly and systematically. At the beginning of the year your wall will be blank, after you teach <t> /t/, then add that to your wall, then follow along as you begin teaching the subsequent
phonograms. Ensure that you explicitly teach your students where you’re placing the phonograms on the sound wall and why. You may want to attach mirrors or have them close by, for students to check their mouth placement when referring to the sound wall.