The Spelling Scholar:
Word Study as the Foundation of Reading
•Common Core Standards
•Vowel Concepts/Teaching Ideas
•Alphabetic Layer
Eileen Mattmann
Rosanne Cowan
•Pattern Layer
•Meaning Layer
•Other Vowel Stories
“Spelling is the foundation of reading and the greatest ornament of
–Noah Webster
Word Study Makes a Difference
 Explicit word study instruction and inquiry learning enhance
acquisition of reading.
 Word structure and analysis helps build fluency (alphabetic
and pattern layers)
 Understanding affixes and roots contributes to vocabulary
growth (pattern and meaning layers)
 Fluency and vocabulary increase comprehension.
How Predictable is Spelling?
 Three Layers
Dispelling the Myth
 Alphabetic Layer
Sound/letter relationship
One sound
 Pattern Layer
Spelling patterns, rules and inflected endings
 Meaning Layer
Homophones, contractions, affixes, Greek and Latin
word parts, word origins
Moving from Alphabetic to Meaning
Alphabetic Layersound/letter
Pattern Layer- base
words and endings,
vowel teams,
position, rules
jumpt, stade, wouldent
Meaning Layercontractions,
homographs, roots
and affixes, word
Great Vowel Shift
 Move from Middle English to Modern English (1400-
 Blending of French and English
 Vowels sounded as they do in the romance languages
Spellings stayed the same as in Middle English
Vowel sounds start to shift at different rates
Some spellings changed, some didn’t
 Printing press instrumental in locking in spellings
 Vowel sounds constantly changing-dependent on area of
Vowel Spellings
 “ough” combination - 10 pronunciations
 cough, through, dough, bough, slough (slaw, sluff)
 Each standardized at a different time during the Great Vowel Shift,
causing the confusion that we have today.
 Long /e/ - 23 different spellings
 eat, debris, fleet, field, happy, key, deceit, people, mete
 rarely said incorrectly, and occurs early in children’s speech
 Short /i/ - 33 different spellings
hit, myth, sieve, busy, building, pretty
more difficult for children and non-native speakers to master the short
"i" sound.
Alphabetic Layer-Common Core
 Kindergarten
 Rhyming words, blending onsets and rimes, isolate and
pronounce C-V-C pattern, spell simple words
 Grade 1
 Long and short vowels, every syllable has a vowel
 Spell untaught words phonetically
Pattern Layer-Common Core
 Kindergarten
 Identify long and short vowels -2 vowels vs. 1 vowel
 Grade 1
 Know final “e” and common long vowel letter teams,
open and closed syllables, every syllable has a vowel,
spell untaught words phonetically
 Identify root word to add ending
 Grade 2
 Know spelling/sound correspondences for common
vowel teams
 Generalize learned spelling patterns when writing words
(e.g., cage →badge; boy →boil).
Pattern Layer-Common Core
 Grade 3
 Use conventional spelling for high-frequency and other
studied words and for adding suffixes to base words
(e.g., sitting, smiled, cries, happiness).
 Use spelling patterns and generalizations (e.g., word
families, position-based spellings, syllable patterns).
 Recognize word structure in reading, apply it in writing
(suffix rules, meaningful word parts).
 Grade 4-6
 Spell correctly.
Meaning Layer-Common Core
 Grade 2
 Use an apostrophe to form contractions.
 Know final -e and common vowel team conventions for
representing long vowel sounds. (Gr. 1-2)
 Grade 4-6
 Homophones (bare, bear; meddle, medal)
 Word origin
 Spell grade appropriate words correctly
Alphabetic Layer Concepts
 Introducing the “magical” vowels
 Vowels make you keep your mouth open
 Vowels and word families
Vowels and Word Families
Alphabetic Layer Concepts
 Word Builder Cards
 Identifying long and short vowel sounds Long and Short of It Game
 Long vowels in the alphabetic layer
 “o” and “i” can be long with one vowel in word (gold,
mild, find)
Pattern Layer Concepts
 Long or short vowel?
 tch, ch
 dge, ge
Open Word Sorts: Inquiry Lesson
 c/ck/k
 The open sort What do you notice?
 How should we group?
 Let’s make a rule.
comic pack seek
panic speak look
blank soak
duck traffic music milk
Completed Sort
Words end in “ck”
Words end in “c”
Words end in “k”
What about words like make, trunk, ask, and milk?
What about picnic, arctic, and jacket?
Pattern Layer Concepts
 Open and Closed Syllables
Rabbit Rule
Pattern Layer Concepts
 Common vowel teams (long vowel sounds)
 Ai, a-silent e, ay
 Ee, ea
 i-silent e
 Oa, o-silent e
 ue, ew, u-silent e
“I” Before “E”
When sounding like
Except after
ē, it’s i before e,
And when sounding like
ā as in neighbor, ī as in height, or ĭ as in
“I Before E”
Other Vowel Teams
 Vowel pairs(oy/oi)
Try It!
Other Vowel Teams
• Vowel pairs (au/aw/al)
Another Vowel Pair
• Vowel pair (au/aw)
Try It!
Vowel Pair
• Vowel pairs (ou/ow)
Powerful Silent “e”
 Powerful Silent “e”
 Makes a long vowel CVCe (make)
 Words don’t end in “i” or “u” (lie, blue)
 Clarifies meaning, pleas/please
Makes “c” and “g” soft, dance, prince, cringe, badge
 Reading-Watch for 2 consonants before the silent e.
Changes the sound of the last consonant (tens/tense)
 Words that end with /v/
 give, have, love,
 givving/giving,
havving/having, lovving/loving
 Provides a needed vowel in a syllable
“The Spelling Scholar” Unit:
Discovery and Discussion
title single
tickle maple
handle simple camel
Pattern Layer Concepts
 Inflected endings
 Suffixes that don’t change the meaning of the base word
or the part of speech
Nouns-plural (desks, beaches)
Verbs-tenses (plays, played, playing)
Adjectives-comparative/superlative (fancy, fancier,
Contained in the dictionary base word entry
Find the Base Word
 hopping vs. hoping
 1-1-1 Rule or V-C
Silent “e:” Find the Base Word
What happens when we want to add a suffix to a base word that ends in silent “e?”
pile + ed = piled
mule + ish = mulish dive + ing = diving
broke + en = broken
What happens if we add a suffix that begins with a consonant to a base word
that ends in silent “e?”
wire + less = wireless
huge + ly = hugely
care + ful = careful
Drop “e”
huge + ly
admire + ation
delete + ed
bubble + ing
Drop “e”
Keep “e”
separate + ly
achieve + ment
amuse + ment
trouble + ed
surprise + ing
commute + er
double + ing
engage + ment
Keep “e”
Inflected Endings
 Y to I
Pattern Layer Concepts
Other Spellings for
Pattern Layer Concepts
 e, i, y: softens “c” and “g”
Pattern Layer Concepts
 e, i, y: softens “c” and “g”
Meaning Layer Concepts
 Word Origin-Words from French
 A long a sound at the end of a word can be spelled: with et as in
cachet, crochet, and croquet.
 A long e sound at the end of a word: ie as in prairie and sortie.
 Words ending with an \zh\ sound: spelled age as in collage, mirage,
dressage, garage, barrage, camouflage, entourage, and fuselage.
 A \k\ sound at the end of a word is often spelled que as in mystique,
boutique, and physique.
 Words from Greek
 Spell short i with “y” as in acronym, calypso, cryptic, cynical,
dyslexia, homonym, Olympian, polymer, symbiosis, synonym,
synopsis, and syntax.
More Thinking Strategies as Stories
 England always doubles (labeled vs. labelled)
 Mnemonics (ight, ould, aught, ought)
 Words with short U, spelled with O (love, come)
 (build word lists)
 (list of roots and meanings)
 (list of
roots and meanings)
General Student Practice Sites
 (practice games for your list or theirs)
 (more challenging games; your list or theirs, very
easy to difficult)
 (word family work)
(many games)
 (many games)
 (word sorts provided or make your own)
“When children are taught to think
about language, it allows them to learn
HOW to spell, not just memorize
words.” (Moats, 2009)
 Developmental-Spelling Research: A systematic Imperative,
Marcia Invernizzi, Latisha Hayes, Reading Research Quarterly,
How Spelling Supports Reading, Louisa Moats, American
Educator, 2005-2006
How Words Cast Their Spell, Malatesha R. Joshi,, American
Educator, 2008-2009
Questions Teachers Ask About Spelling, Shane Templeton,
Darrell Morris, Reading Research Quarterly, 1999
Why Spelling is Important and How to Teach It Effectively, V.
Berninger & M. Fayol, Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy
Development, 2008
 Word Study Instruction in the K-2 Classroom, Cheryl Williams,, The Reading Teacher, April 2009

The Spelling Scholar