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Teaching alternative spellings

Discussion in 'Primary' started by modgepodge, May 6, 2012.

  1. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    I am teaching my year 1s phase 5 phonics. We have now covered all the alternative pronunciations, and are now moving on to alternative spellings. Thing is, I'm an NQT and on placement only taught alt pronunciations, so I've yet to plan /teach the spelling part. Any advice? How is it different to the pronunciation part? Any good activities/games?
    I always think with alternative pronunciations they can keep trying different ones in an unfamiliar word til they get the right one. This doesn't really work with spelling. Is it worth trying to teach them some rules or is it too complex? Eg this week we are looking at ways of spelling /k/. To my mind, the general ru,es are:

    Usually /ck/ following a vowel sound, eg duck, sick, sack

    usually /k/ following a consonant or double vowel eg. Look, speak, week, Think, link

    Words rarely end in /c/ but this is usually how word start

    /x/ is rare and actually makes /ks/, never at the start of the word

    /q/ is rare and usually in the middle of words eg marquee

    This just seems like a hell of a lot for 5/6 year olds to remember!! But then most of them know all these letters make /k/ but use them randomly with no idea when to use each one. Plus some of these rules rely on knowledge of vowels and consonants that I'm not sure they've got. And that's quite a tricky concept right? Not something I can introduce in a review part of the lesson!
  2. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

  3. sara2323

    sara2323 New commenter

    I've struggled with the alternative spellings too!! I have used the phoneme spotter stories, they're great for the applying part. Also used word sort, both the activities are explained in the Letters and Sounds book.
  4. I'd like to suggest that you use slash marks when you are referring to the sounds and single quote marks when you are referring to the graphemes.
    Thus, the /k/ sound is represented by the 'k', 'c', 'ck', 'ch', 'qu' and 'que' spelling alternatives.
    In the Free Resources of Phonics International, there are many choices of Alphabetic Code Charts from which you could select a chart to use as a spelling reference chart.
    Then, ultimately, you are working towards recalling spelling word banks for the slightly less common spelling alternatives.
  5. modgepodge

    modgepodge Established commenter

    Thanks for that Debbie, are you suggesting I simply put a chart on the wall for kids to refer to? Should I explain the rules about following vowels/consonants to them or is that just to complicated? Should I just say "sometimes it's k, sometimes ck" or what?
  6. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Rather than a chart, I have some 'best guess' posters. Some downloaded from phonics play and some I made in a similar way.

    The children who have the faintest clue what their name is use the posters, the rest don't.

    To be honest, in year 2 I think they just need to spell in ways that make phonetic sense for anything other than the HFWs.

    We also have lots and lots of word mats around that they refer to. Some topic based some generic.

    Lots of reading, so they 'see' words and patterns also helps.
  7. How refreshing. Someone else who is recognising that using SP involves a touch of guesswork.
  8. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Have you seen the posters in question thumbie ?
    a couple of examples for you
    beginning or in
    the middle: oi
    Usually at the
    end: oy

    At the end of a
    word or followed
    by n: ow
    Most other words: ou

    not a lot of "guessing"
    especially the ones that say
    There is no
    for / u r e /
    There is no
    for / o r /
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Yeps that's the sort of thing.

    'Best guess' is really just a nice phrase for children, actually they are using the rules of spelling.

    But occasionally SP isn't the full answer...however I'm not overly fussed if they mix up the graphemes occasionally. Until I mark the SATs spelling test with correctly phonetically spelled words all perfectly done, though totally incorrect!
  10. It's interesting that in an attempt to remove the guess work the posters refer to information which is not simply GPCs. Do you know, I think on the whole they refer to word patterns and syllable patterns! I suppose they are called 'best guess' because they are encouraging children to look at more information to inform their original guesses.
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    No idea or care really. Helps my children learn to spell, so it is fine by me. If it fits current theories great, if it doesn't, well great too!

    I have no clue about the intricacies of it all and care very little either.
  12. Like it! [​IMG]. I wish I didn't feel compelled to continually argue with the contentious stuff some people come out with on here!
  13. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    When it comes to theories of phonics, I just bow out gracefully. No point arguing unless I have a chance of winning!
  14. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    I teach alternative spellings in two ways. If there's an easy spelling rule that can be applied more often than not (eg. oi in the middle of a word, oy at the end) then I teach it. Other times I just say that there is more than one way of writing this sound, and we just have to learn when to use each way (eg. w and wh). A lot of English is like that so they might as well get used to the idea early on!
  15. English spelling does not really have rules. There are spelling patterns, but every single one gets broken occasionally. The spelling of the /b/ sound, for example, is consistent, but its consistency is ruined by other uses of 'b': dumb, doubt, climb.
    Some patterns are very strong. 'Ar' (far, car) has only one exception: are;
    'a' (had, mat, rang) only three: plait, plaid, meringue.
    If u scroll a little way down the Overview page on my website
    <font color="#0000ff">www.EnglishSpellingProblems.co.uk</font>
    u'll see how many out of the 6800 most used English words use each of the main patterns
    and how many use other patterns for the same sound.
    Some patterns have so many exceptions that they can't even be said to have any pattern at all. The worst are spellings for /ee/ea/, long and short /oo/ and consonant doubling.
    U can find all the main patterns and their variants at
    <font color="#0000ff">http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/rules-and-exceptions-of-english.html</font>

    The main rules for the /k/ sound are as follows.
    <font face="Times New Roman">The letter <c > is the main spelling for the /k/ sound:</font><font face="Times New Roman"> 1) before < a, o> and < u > (cat, cot, cut),</font><font face="Times New Roman"> 2) at the end of longer words (music, fantastic) and </font><font face="Times New Roman"> 3) before <l> and <r> (clip, crop), </font>

  16. Spot on!
    Learning to spell English is much harder than learning to read, because all the variants simply have to be memorised word by word, by what Debbie calls 'building up of wordbanks'.
    Because at least 3700 common English words contain one or more unpredictable letters
    (head, money - cf. bed funny), this takes a while.
  17. Teaching spelling is a whole different ball game from teaching reading, thumbie, so stop trying to twist things to suit your arguments against SP.
    FWIW I teach 'probabilities' rather than 'best guess'. It makes it a more purposeful and considered strategy. 'Guess' seems a bit random...particularly as most people consider the word to mean making a choice with no information to guide one.
  18. Not you, Maizie, who calls using information from context to guide you, 'guessing'.Of course spelling is different from reading, but alternatives still exist. It is easier to choose between alternatives when reading, partly because you can be guided by context.
  19. Indeed. Looking for meaning is of great help in decoding graphemes with variable sounds. Variant spellings children simply have to imprint on their brains. There is nothing right or wrong about them. They just are.
  20. invincible

    invincible New commenter

    I do the same for regular spelling rules. For the others, I get the kids to try all the options they know and see which one looks right. If you give them plenty of reading practice, it all falls into place in time.

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