WORD MASTERY: A Course in Phonics for the First Three Grades
3500 Most Used Words and Phonograms
The following plan approximates the progress of the average primary class. Do not attempt to follow it exactly. Keep in mind the fact that the ability of pupils differs greatly, and that whether a class falls behind the suggested plan of work or advances more rapidly, the one important thing is to teach each step thoroughly.
The amount of time given daily to the work in phonics must be decided by the teacher. Classroom conditions make it possible for some to give twenty minutes a day while others can give but ten. Two exercises a day of ten minutes each is perhaps the ideal arrangement. The exercise should never be continued until pupils weary of it. At the first indication of lagging or weariness it is time to stop.
The teaching of phonics includes
I Auditory training, II Linguistic training, III Eye training, IV Word building.
Auditory training may begin on the first day the child enters school. Say to the pupils, " We shall play a little game. You may do what I tell you, but do not speak a word." Then say to one, "Bring me a b-o-x," speaking the last word very slowly (phonetically); to others, " Show me something r-e-d," "Tap on your d-e-s-k," "Touch something made of t-i-n," " Cl-a-p your h-ands," " R-u-n to the d-oo-r," " H-o-p to the w-i-n-d-ow," etc. Sufficient interest will soon be aroused to permit the teacher to leave off the play and say words phonetically, one after another, asking pupils to tell what each word is. In a few days they will be able to recognize almost any word that may be sounded. Occasionally tell a little story, saying a word phonetically here and there, and allowing pupils to pronounce the word. This form of training may be profitably continued throughout the first half-year.
Linguistic training should begin about the third or fourth day. Sound a word and have a pupil tell what sound he hears first, what sound he hears last. Be very careful that he gives the sound correctly. There is a natural inclination to voice a breath, or voiceless sound, such as h. Holding an object before a pupil have him say the name slowly (phonetically), as h-a-t, c-a-p, v-a-s-e, p-e-n, b-oo-k, f-a-n, etc. A picture may be placed before the class, and a pupil may be asked to say phonetically the name of each thing he sees in the picture. After a few days' practice offer a sound (it may be a simple phonogram, as I, or a compound phonogram, as si); have the pupils see how many different words they can think of beginning with that sound. This training should be continued for several months. Ear training and tongue training should be practiced for eight or ten days before taking up eye training.
Eye training begins with the book, — teaching the pupil to associate the sound with the symbol. Ask the pupil to name the pictures on page 5; he says, man, moon. Ask him what sound he hears first (the ear and the tongue training have prepared the way for prompt recognition), and he will reply, m. Now tell him that the letters at the top of the page are pictures of the first sound and that hereafter they will help him to tell words. The pupil next learns the sound of a, in the same way. Then he learns the sound of n. Now he says the sounds of the three letters m-a-n, and thereby discovers the word man. At first the pupil will say these sounds so far apart that he cannot hear a word, but keep him trying to say them more rapidly, as, m->—a n, m—a—n, m-a-n, m-a-n, until he does hear the word and tells it. Proceed in like manner with the lessons that follow.
The order in which the phonograms are presented is hased upon the ease with which they are Mended.
In the early lessons tell the pupil only the sound of the letter that is illustrated. It is confusing to many pupils to be told the name of the letter at the same time that they are told its sound. Some teachers prefer not to teach the names of the letters until the pupils have worked on the sounds three or four months. Whenever a teacher feels sure that a pupil knows the sound of a letter so thoroughly that it will not confuse him to be told its name also, then it is time to teach him the name of the letter. It is not necessary for pupils to know the letters in alphabetical order until later.
The number of pages taken in a given lesson must be governed by the ability of the class. Take only as many as the pupils can do well.
During the first eight weeks pupils should have each lesson in both script and print. Write the lesson on the board and have them practice it from that before practicing from the print in the book. By so doing, they will learn both forms simultaneously. As the lessons grow longer, limited time and board space will prevent the teacher from presenting in script the whole of each day's work; but whenever a new phonogram or phonic principle is introduced, several of the words representing it should first be explained, sounded, and pronounced from the board. Experience will soon enable the teacher to judge how much script practice is necessary to prepare the pupils for the book lesson.
This phonic course contains over 3500 different words. Each of these words when presented contains but one new phonogram, and that phonogram is the one introduced at the beginning of the series in which the word occurs.
Never tell the pupil a word in his phonic lesson, since onlyone new sound is introduced at a time, and the new step offers no difficulty if each foregoing page has been thoroughly learned.
When it is necessary to indicate a certain sound in a word, call it by number —the second sound, the third sound, or whatever it may be.
Concert recitation is helpful to timid pupils, and it saves time; but it should be avoided until the teacher is sure that each pupil participating in it can give the sound of every consonant correctly. The greater part of the phonic work should be individual.
Encourage pupils to whisper the sounds to themselves when they are studying a phonic or a reading lesson. Without actually hearing the sounds they cannot get the blend and therefore cannot discover the word. It takes several months for pupils to be able to blend the sounds mentally. This whispering is not disorder. It is a necessary part of word-getting and, if checked too soon, the pupils' progress in word-getting may be greatly retarded. When the proper time for overcoming it has arrived, — toward the latter part of the first year, — pupils will naturally dispense with it because they will be able to get the word so quickly through the eye that they will not wait for the assistance of the ear. An occasional request from the teacher that the pupil shall study to himself without moving the lips, will overcome it without difficulty.
Reserve a small space on the blackboard for a permanent phonic chart. As pupils learn the sounds of the consonants, write them at the left in this space; and as each new compound phonogram is learned, write it at the right. This affords good material for reviews and word-building lessons conducted in the following way: The teacher points to a consonant, then to a compound phonogram, and pupils tell what word these would make if written together; or a pupil takes the pointer and indicates combinations that will make familiar words while either he or other pupils pronounce them.
After all of its phonograms have been presented, the script alphabet should be placed along the top of the blackboard, and under each letter should be given the corresponding letter printed on paper or pasteboard. If it is on pasteboard it may be pinned to the blackboard; if on paper, paste it with library paste —it can easily be washed off when necessary. This affords ready reference for the entire class, familiarizing them with both the script and the printed forms. Do not print on the blackboard. The printing never looks exactly as it does in the book. Reserve the blackboard for script.
No diacritical marks are to be used. Pupils are taught to determine the sound of the vowel by its position in the word and by its associate letters. When pupils learn to read by means of diacritical marks their reading for the first year or more must be largely confined to the reader from which they are taught. The method presented in this book gives the pupil immediate mastery of a word taught and the words of its family, regardless of where he may find them. Diacritical marks should not be taught until pupils are sufficiently advanced to use the dictionary.
Pupils should be taxed with the fewest possible rules.. In this course only those are used which are simplest and most necessary for word-recognition. Do not require pupils to memorize them; frequent application of the principles involved will insure a thorough knowledge of them.
The separation of the family name from the initial sound greatly assists the pupil in acquiring the " blend." It becomes less necessary and is therefore used less frequently as the work proceeds. Strive for the "blend" at all times. The pupil's power to discover new words depends upon his ability to blend the sounds of which they are composed.
Constantly require pupils to apply their knowledge of phonics to their reading lesson; that is, do not tell the pupil a word in his reading lesson which he is able to get for himself. The habit of "making the sounds tell the word" must be thoroughly fixed. Thus the pupil will daily become more self-helpful, and after a few months his general knowledge of phonics will enable him to recognize many words containing sounds beyond his phonic training.
"When a word occurs in the reading lesson that does not conform to the rule, as, have, give, etc., and the pupil pronounces it incorrectly, ask him if he knows such a word; when he replies that he does not, tell him there is something wrong with his vowel. He will immediately correct it and will soon learn to expect " exceptions," and to try another sound of a letter if his first sounding does not give him a familiar word, or a word that " makes sense " in the context.
If a word unusually long yet containing only sounds previously taught occurs in the reading lesson and seems difficult for the pupil, assist him by writing it on the blackboard and underscoring each compound phonogram or family name; also teach him to put a finger over such a word,moving it off slowly so that he sees but one family name or one syllable at a time. This may be well demonstrated to the class by using a long narrow strip of pasteboard with which to cover the word on the blackboard and removing it in the way described above. With a little training pupils will soon learn to do this and will find it very helpful. When the teacher discovers a weakness in a phonic principle previously taught, she should promptly refer the pupil or the class to a lesson which demonstrates that principle. If it is a forgotten phonogram, the pupil should be given a quick review of the family of words in which that phonogram is the common element. Make up sets of script phonic cards for seat work. Write four or five families in as many columns on each card. Write the initial consonant sound in red ink and the compound phonogram or family name in black. Again write the consonant sounds in red on strips of pasteboard and on other strips write the family names in black. Cut these strips up so that there is but one consonant or one family name on each card. Pupils use these small cards for building families of words to correspond with those on the large card. Keep the small cards and the corresponding large one in the same envelope. When desired, the pupils may use the large cards for study or for copying. Each large card should be numbered on the back to correspond with the number of the envelope in which it. belongs. Write on the outside of the envelope the name of each family included in the envelope; then it will not be necessary to look into the envelope in order to know what work the envelope contains.
When pupils have had a few weeks' practice in writing, begin conducting phonic spelling lessons, in order to reinforce the power to recognize compound phonograms. Write a family name on the blackboard, as, at; write it several times, one under another, making a column; now pronounce this family of words, — cat, bat, fat, hat, mat, rat, pat, sat, requiring different pupils to go to the blackboard and prefix the sound which makes theword. Or write on the blackboard the compound phonogram which is to be the common element of the series, then have the pupils copy it on their paper. Now pronounce the words, having children write as the words are pronounced. The ability to recognize compound phonograms as wholes, without separating them into their elementary sounds, greatly shortens the process of word recognition. This also serves to impress phonic principles upon the minds of the pupils and teaches them to apply those principles to all spelling, thus making spelling a matter of reasoning. Pupils should be taught to look over a spelling lesson, when one has been assigned that is made up of words of different families, and to determine the " dangerous places " in the words. For instance, in a spelling lesson of ten words, seven of those words may be strictly phonetic; that is, they may be governed by phonic principles and be spelled as they sound. The pupil does not need to waste time on these. But in the remaining three he rinds unphonetic elements, so he studies only those three " exceptions." It is a good plan, in teaching children how to do this, to write the spelling lesson on the blackboard, making in red chalk the letters on which pupils are likely to trip. Some teachers have aptly called these " red danger signals."
If the pupils are taking up this course in the fall after having had part of the work the previous year, they should take a rapid review of the pages up to the point where their new lessons begin. When pupils enter the class from schools in which this phonic course has not been taught, the most satisfactory method of preparing them for work with the class is to take them rapidly over the work which the class has covered. Whether pupils complete this course in one year, one and a half, or two years, when they have completed it their ability to read anything they can comprehend is assured. Each pupil should keep the course in his desk for ready reference, general reviews, and drills, as required, until the close of his third school year. The words in this book are grouped according to their pronunciation in Webster's New International Dictionary.
By Florence Akin