Help with blending

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Elizabeth
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Help with blending

Post by Elizabeth » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:04 pm

This is a message I was sent asking for advice about a child who has trouble with blending. I have permission to copy it (without the names). Can anybody help?

We have started Jolly Phonics this year with our kindergarten class ... We were just wondering if you could help us out with some thoughts about a student who has continued to have difficulties with blending and segmenting words longer than 3 to 4 phonemes. There are currently 28 students in our kindergarten class – 27 of whom are experiencing great success with both activities thanks to Jolly Phonics. We have assessed several times throughout the year and have seen progress in all areas for 27 of our 28 students. Our concern with this particular student is while she knows the basic code well, and recognizes most alternatives visually, putting sounds together or taking them apart past 3 phonemes proves very difficult for her. It is impeding her ability to read a sentence and she has no comprehension of what she’s read because she has struggled with decoding.

We emailed you earlier in the year about this student and problems with segmenting. You advised more revision of the basic code and practice in blending and segmenting. We have seen progress with CVC and to some extent CVCC, but not consistently.

This child was six in September, has supportive parents who work with her at home. They recently became more aware of her difficulties after hearing her six year old cousin reading well, also in kindergarten at a different school.

She has zero interest in reading and writing – it serves a functional purpose for her only. She is reluctant to read when we call her over for assessment or soundbook revision; surely because it is a struggle for her. She does seem to do better when someone is there.

We have started to cover the phonemes in words and expose them as she reads. However if the word is longer than 3 phonemes she has extreme difficulty recalling the first phoneme. She often transposes the first two consonants in CCVC words then loses the thread of what she’s blending.

She also maintains the last sound and transfers it to the beginning of the word even when she sounds out the first sound loudly.

The consonant blends have evolved naturally for our children because their basic code is so strong. Our children have had real success in recognition and even using them in writing. This student will often add a vowel sound in between the consonants. For example, the blend “bl” becomes “b/uh/l.” If shown ‘b’ and ‘l’ separately there is no shwa; it’s almost like she’s trying to make a CVC word from two consonants.

Dictation of words tends to go well when she is listening to someone else. She segments with her fingers first and then can transfer the phoneme to grapheme. Surprisingly, she does really well with the digraphs both in reading and writing. She uses them in her independent work. We have been surprised that blends are difficult and digraphs come easier for her.

Even though she’s able to blend the first few sounds of short words it is not consistent. We have noticed that really the only strategy she relies on is blending. She is not substituting or guessing. This does indicate however there is so much effort with segmenting and blending she has no room it seems for comprehension. There is no fluidity when she blends. Everything is deliberate and a struggle.

Another observation is her preference for headphones to block extraneous noise during language arts activities as well as in math.

One thought we’ve had is could this be something to do with insufficient active working memory? Or are we reading too much into this? Have you ever come across anything like this personally? We suspect this because of her inability to hold the first phoneme past three sounds in a word. Presumably, if that’s the case should it be more of the same practice with blending and segmenting?

We have 7 weeks left of school and it has become very noticeable as we assess to determine reading readiness for first grade. We do have the ability to work one-on-one with her daily and can pull her for 20 to 30 minutes in the morning. This is definitely the best time to work with her. Here are some of the things we are hoping to implement.

• The JP blending cards with sound buttons; have her blend the word say it; remove the card; segment the word and write the word on a whiteboard – check her work

• Using the JP texts to focus on blending words and recalling what she’s read. We feel that pulling the same simple decodable text to work on at home and school which will allow her the opportunity to experience success in blending

We are hoping we are not expecting too much of her, bearing in mind she’s nearly seven and she’s had three full years of early childhood education. This has become so noticeable because of the continued success of all our students. We’re not sure if we are asking too much of our students because they are quite capable in these areas [they are a year older than their UK counterparts].

Since this is our first year of JP we really are not sure of what we should be expecting of our students? What would you expect to see in the first year of JP – regardless of age? Her parents are starting to see the difference between her ability and her peers. They’re smart people with other children so what they are seeing is valid. Truthfully, what we are seeing compared to all other students in our class is a concern.

Please let us know if we are on the right track, and if not can you offer suggestions for how we should work with her?

We appreciate you taking the time to consider our dilemma. We really care about her success and our continued success with Jolly Phonics. We want to make sure we are meeting her needs and that we haven’t missed or overlooked something we could be doing better in the program.

from three teachers in the USA
Elizabeth

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:53 pm

I would suggest using my Sounds Book Activity Sheets with this girl. This will revise 'old code learning', it will rehearse blending and segmenting skills using shorter words and slightly longer words - but it will be through (to all intents and purposes) 'new' material which will not feel as if she is going over 'old' ground by using the same resources that she has used previously.

In the Sounds Book Activity Sheets, words of different lengths are integrated. This means that the girl will always have the shorter words which the teachers say she can manage anyway (so she will experience 'success'), and yet it will be rehearsing the blending and segmenting of some longer words which is where she needs additional rehearsal.

There are also 'I can read' instructional bite-sized pieces of text which will add to the bank of cumulative words that she can practise reading.

For even further rehearsal of blending and segmenting, there are hundreds of words available in the 'My Words - word lists' and other word level resources.

This girl may well have working memory difficulties - and greater difficulties than her peers in the skills of blending and segmenting, but nevertheless she has demonstrated that she can learn 'code' and that she can blend and segment to an extent.

This means that she really does need more and more rehearsal with appropriate levels of code knowledge and text - and she will be maturing all the time in any event.

I hope this helps.

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maizie
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Post by maizie » Wed Apr 22, 2009 4:58 pm

I would suggest that they try 'progressive blending'. First , decode all through the word, then blend first two sounds together, then blend the next sound to the 'chunk' already blended and so on, to the end of the word. Then she doesn't have to 'remember' all the sounds before blending them. All that needs to be held in memory is the 'chunk' already bended and the next sound to be added to it.

The comment on writing words:
This student will often add a vowel sound in between the consonants. For example, the blend “bl” becomes “b/uh/l.” If shown ‘b’ and ‘l’ separately there is no shwa; it’s almost like she’s trying to make a CVC word from two consonants.
This makes me wonder if the child is actually saying pure sounds or whether she is putting an /uh/ onto consonant sounds.

With my EAL child, who finds some English phonemes difficult to pronounce, I have found that saying each sound quite slowly and sort of 'sliding it' into the next sound helps to produce a more recognisable word as it seems to eliminate much of the /uh/ on the end of consonant sounds.

I agree with Debbie on more work on automatic recall of the PGCs so that they can be strung together as fast as possible - which may also help to produce the word without having to sound out all through and then blend.



Is it possible that a hearing test might be called for?

MDavis
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Post by MDavis » Fri May 15, 2009 12:46 pm

maizie wrote:I would suggest that they try 'progressive blending'. First , decode all through the word, then blend first two sounds together, then blend the next sound to the 'chunk' already blended and so on, to the end of the word. Then she doesn't have to 'remember' all the sounds before blending them. All that needs to be held in memory is the 'chunk' already bended and the next sound to be added to it.
I agree with this suggestion about using progressive blending as an alternative to final blending. You might also try exposing the word grapheme by grapheme using a notched index card. That way you encourage grapheme-by-grapheme processing and progressive blending and make jumping ahead and whole-word guessing much harder to do.

I also wonder if chaining games might be helpful. In a chaining game you make only one change at a time, so that the bulk of a word remains the same from one word to the next. You might try asking the student to read chains that are mostly 2- and 3- sound words (in the student's comfort zone, based on your description) but occasionally ramp up to a 4-sound word and then come right back down. I would stick to the one-to-one correspondences (avoiding digraphs) to avoid adding segmenting issues. Chains might look like this: it > at > pat > cat > cats > cat > bat > mat > hat > hats > hat > hit > hip > hips > hip > hop > pop > pup > pups > pup > pip > lip > limp > lip, etc. If you stick mostly with the three-letter, three-sound words, then the student will be working mostly with the comfortable words and you can add 4-letter, 4-sound words sparingly to develop the next level, hopefully without overwhelming the child. Hopefully the words introduced this way will also be easier because the 4-sound words strongly resemble the 3-sound words that precede them in the chain. In other words, the student may have better luck reading cats, if she has just read cat.

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri May 15, 2009 3:19 pm

Although this is a free assessment available from PI's homepage - it also provides a good range of cumulative words with varying levels of difficulty.

It can be useful for providing word-level reading practice.

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/uni ... 20grid.pdf

There is also a parallel test which I shall post on the next posting in case I lose this one in flipping around copying and pasting! ;-)

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Debbie Hepplewhite
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Post by Debbie Hepplewhite » Fri May 15, 2009 3:22 pm

http://www.phonicsinternational.com/uni ... 20grid.pdf

The parallel test!

On the free assessment section on the PI homepage, I provide exactly the same words with the non-cursive letter 'k'.

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