Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 7: Word Identification

Defining Word Identification

IMG_E0941.JPGSeveral terms have been associated with identifying words: word attack, word analysis, word recognition, and decoding. Word identification means putting a name or label on words that are encountered in print. Word recognition is a process that involves immediate identification. This could include sight-word recognition or sight vocabulary. The terms word attack, word analysis, and decoding suggest the act of translating print into speech through analysis of letter-sound relationships. Also commonly referred to as phonics. Phonics provides readers with a tool to “attack” the pronunciation of words that are not recognized immediately.

Phases of Development in Children’s Ability to Identify Words


Prealphabetic phase: Occurs before the development of alphabetic knowledge. Children are able to recognize some words by sight because of the distinctive visual and contextual cues in or around the recognized word. This can include cereal boxes, restaurant logos and other environmental print.

Partial alphabetic phase: When they begin to develop some knowledge about letters and detect letter-sound relationships.

Full alphabetic phase: Emerges in a child’s leteracy development when readers identify words by matching all of the letters and sounds. Sounding out letters and blending them into words may be laborious and slow at the beginning but eventually it will become more smooth.

Consolidated alphabetic phase: Would be able to segment word into to larger letter or spelling patterns and match them to larger sound units known as onsets and rimes. Onsets are the initial consonants and consonant patterns that come at the beginning of syllables. Rimes are the vowel and conconants that follow them at the end of syllables.

Approaches and Guidelines for Teaching Phonics

Analytic phonics: A whole-to-part approach to word study in which the student is first taught a number of sight words and then relevant phonic generalizations, which then apply to other words. The instruction involves these steps:

  1. Observe a list of known words with a common letter-sound relationship
  2. Begin questioning about how the words look and sound the same and how they are different
  3. Elict the common letter-sound relationship and discuss
  4. Have the learners phrase a generalization about the letter-sound relationship

Synthetic phonics: A part-to-whole phonics approach to reading instruction in which the student learns the sounds represented by letters and letter combinations, blends these sounds together to pronounce new words, and finally identifies which phonics generalizations apply. The instruction involves these steps:

  1. Teach the letter names
  2. Teach the sound or sounds each letter represents
  3. Drill on the letter-sound relationships until rapidly recognized. Discuss rules and form generalizations about relationships that usually apply yo words
  4. Teach the blending of separate sounds to make words
  5. Provide the opportunity to apply blending to unknown words

Linguistic instruction: A beginning reading approach based on highly regular sound-symbol patterns. This approach emphasizes learning to decode words through regular letter patterns like fish, wish, dish, and swish. Decodable text contains the following features: It is text that is written with a large number of words that have phonetic similarities and there is typically a match between the text and the phonic elements that the teacher has taught.

Language of Phonics:

  • Digraphs – when two or more consonants or vowels are combined to produce a new sound
    • ch
    • sh
    • th
    • wh
    • ph
    • gh
    • -nk
    • -ng
    • oa
    • ee
    • ea
    • ai
    • ay
  • Consonant Blends – two or three consonants grouped together, but each consonant retains the original sound
    •  l blends
      • bl
      • cl
      • fl
      • gl
      • pl
      • sl
    • r blends
      • br
      • cr
      • dr
      • fr
      • gr
      • pr
      • tr
    • s blends
      • sc
      • sk
      • sm
      • sn
      • sp
      • st
      • sw
    • three-letter blends
      • scr
      • spr
      • str
  • Diphthongs – sounds that consist of a blend of two separate vowel sounds
    • /oi/ as in oil
    • /oy/ as in toy
    • /au/ as in taught
    • /aw/ as in saw
    • /ou/ as in out
    • /ow/ as in how
  • Syllables –  a vowel or a cluster of letters containing a vowel and pronounced as a unit. The number of syllables in a word is equal to the number of vowel sounds.
    • Long vowels
      • CV
        • be
      • CVe
        • like
      • CVVC
        • paid
    • Short vowels
      • VC or CVC
        • it
        • hot
    • R-controlled
      • Vr
        • art
      • CVr
        • car
    • Digraph/diphthng variations
      • VV
        • saw
        • book
        • boil
        • out

Analogy-based instuction: Children are taught to use their knowledge of letters representing onsets and rimes in words they already know how to pronounce, rather than their knowledge of letter-phoneme correspondences to pronounce unfamiliar words. Children learn to read words in context better than out of context and that “chunking words” by letter patterns is what good readers do.


Embedded phonics instruction: Often associated with holistic, meaning-centered teaching.

Guidelines for Contemporary Phonics Instruction:

  1. Phonics instruction needs to build on a foundation of phonemic awareness and knowledge of the way language works
  2. Phonics instruction needs to be integrated into a total reading program
  3. Phonics instruction needs to focus on reading print rather than on learning rules
  4. Phonics instruction needs to include the teaching of onsets and rimes. Phonograms or rimes have been found to be generalizable. There are 286 phonograms that appear in primary grade texts, 95% were pronounced the same in every word in which they are found
  5. Phonics instruction needs to include spelling-based strategies

Strategies for Teaching Phonics

Making Words: Flip books make students aware of their word-making capability when they substitute different consonants at the beginning of a rime. Consider these steps:

  1. Decide on the rime that you wish students to practice, ad develop a rime card for each of the students
  2. Develop a set of consonant letter cards for each student that can be used to make words with the rime that has been targeted for pratice
  3. Direct students to use the letter cards to make a word
  4. Have students change the first letter and make a new word
  5. Repeat through the activity until all letters are used

Word Walls: Adapted for a variety of word study purposes at different grade levels. Kindergarten classrooms often begin word walls by listing the letters of the alphabet in large, bright letters. High-frequency words, words that occur repeatedly in text, are added to the wall underneath the letters of the alphabet. Middle-level teachers may include more homophones, compound words, or commonly misspelled words for students to reference.

Using Meaning and Letter-Sound Information to Identify Words

Modified Cloze Passages: Can be constructed from materials that are at first relatively easy to read. Gradually, the difficulty of the reading material can be increased. Teachers often create their own materials which seem to be more effective as the teachers are in the best position to gear the material to the needs of their students.

Cloze activities can contain 1-20 deletions in a passage. If cloze activities seem too hard, choices can be given for each blank.

Cross Checking and Self-Monitoring Strategies: Help readers combine letter-sound and meaning information to make sense while reading. Cross checking simply involves rereading a sentence or two to “cross check,” confirm, modify, or reject, probable pronunciations of unknown words encountered during reading. If the sentence makes sense, the meaning confirms the reader’s cross-checking; if the sentence doesn’t make sense, the reader tries again. Cross-checking is crucial in learning to read, especially at the earliest stages of development. Another way to help children self-monitor is to discuss with them what to do when they come to unknown words, encourage them to use meaning and letter-sound information.

Using Structural Analysis to Identify Words

Structural Analysis involves identifying words through meaningful units such as prefixes, suffixes, and root words. The smallest meaningful unit of a word is a morpheme. This also includes inflected endings, which are suffixes that change the tense or degree of the word but not the meaning:

  • ing as in going
  • d as in saved
  • ed as in looked
  • er as in smaller
  • s as in books
  • es as in dresses
  • ly as in slowly
  • est as in tallest

Stuctural analysis also includes compound words and contractions.

Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman.

Classroom Application

I loved all the different strategies for word identification. I have seen flip books used before for making words with similar rimes, I like the idea from the book to use different cards to make different words as a group and talk about their meaning. I think it is also important to know all the parts that words can have such as diphthongs and digraphs so that they can be taught to the students included as a reading strategies.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 6: Assessing Reading Performance

Trends in Assessment

High-Stakes Testing

Consequences of this testing, good or bad, are based only on the performance on the test. This test is intended to provide the public with a guarantee that students can perform at a level necessary to function in society and in the work force. Relied on to improve instruction and benefit the students and not to punish schools or students.

Authentic Assessment

Students are doing reading and writing tasks that look like real-life tasks and students are primarily in control of the reading and writing tasks. Students develop ownership, engage thoughtfully, and learn to assess themselves.

Retelling can be part of this. Narrative retelling encourages young children to think about stories and begin reasoning skills. Children begin retelling a story by telling the audience about their favorite parts of the story. They will then gradually move from discussing preferences to discussing identifiable and important parts of the story.

Information gathered from assessment should be useful in planning classroom instruction and guiding students to become reflective in order to help them assess their own strengths and weaknesses. This assessment becomes formative assessment. The information gathered is used to adapt instruction to meet students’ needs.

Formative assessment helps readers to think about their own learning and use self-assessment strategies. Students will answer questions such as:

  • Where am I going?
  • Where am I now?
  • How can I close the gap?

Having students take an active role in the assessment process broadens the view of literacy development.

Some tools to help teachers authentically assess students include:

  • observation techniques
  • anecdotal records
  • checklists
  • interviews
  • conferences and conversations with students
  • writing folders
  • portfolios

Formal Assessment

Pressures for accountability have led many school districts and states to use formal reading tests as a means of assessment.

Standardized Tests

Standardized reading tests are machine-scored tests that sample reading performance during a single administration. These are useful in making comparisons among individuals or groups at the local, state, and national level. A normal referenced test is constructed by administering it to a large group of students in order to develop a norm. Norms represent average scores of a sampling of students selected for testing according to factors such as age, gender, race, grade, or socioeconomic status.

All assessments have a reliability and validity to them. Reliability refers to the stability of the test. The validity refers to how well the test measures what it is designed to measure.

Types of Test Scores

A raw score reflects the total number of correct items on a test. A grade equivalency score provides information about reading performance as it relates to students at various grade levels.

Types of Assessment

Survey tests represent a measure of general performance only. It does not yield precise information about an individual’s reading ability. Diagnostic tests are a type of formal assessment intended to provide more detailed information about individual students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Criterion-Referenced Tests

The mastery of reading skills should be assessed in relation to specific instructional objectives. Performance on a criterion-referenced test is judged by what a student can or cannot do with regard to the skill objectives of the test. The test taker isn’t compared to anyone else. This type of test is used to make instructional decisions about reading skills development.

Informal Assessment

Informal assessment also doesn’t compare the performance of a tested group or individual to a normative population. Instead, informal assessments may be given throughout the school year to individuals or groups for specific instructional purposes. One of the best uses of informal assessments is to evaluate how students interact with print in oral and silent reading situations.

Informal Reading Inventory (IRI)

An individually administered reading test. Usually consists of a series of graded word lists, graded reading passages, and comprehension questions. IRI information can lead to instructional planning that will increase students’ effectiveness with print.

Determining Reading Levels

The following reading levels can be determined for individual students by administering an IRI:

  • Independent Level: The student reads fluently with excellent comprehension
  • Instructional Level: The student can make progress in reading with instructional guidance
  • Frustration Level: The student is unable to pronounce many of the words or is unable to comprehend the material well

Analyzing Oral Reading Miscues

Oral reading errors are also called miscues. Miscues are a deviation or difference between what a reader says and the word on the page. Miscue analysis can be applied to graded passages form an IRI or to the oral reading of a single passage that presents the student with an extended and intensive reading experience. To analyze miscues, you should ask at least four critical questions:

  1. Does the miscue change the meaning?
  2. Does the miscue sound like language?
  3. Do the miscue and the text word look and sound alike?
  4. Was an attempt made to correct the miscue?

Running Records

An assessment system for determining students’ development of oral reading fluency and word identification skills and strategies.

Analyzing Running Records

In order to determine appropriate material connections and instructional decisions from running records. The teacher calculate the words read correctly, analyze the student’s errors, and identify pattern of errors. The teacher pays close attention to self corrections. Running records provide insights into students’ strengths and weaknesses by allowing teachers to analyze patterns of miscues.

Other Informal Assessments

Words Correct Per Minute assessment involves students reading aloud for one minute from materials used in their reading lessons. The teacher also crosses off any words that were read incorrectly.

Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills includes a series of oral reading skill assessments. This includes:

  • letter naming fluency
  • initial sound fluency
  • phoneme segmentation fluency
  • non-sense word fluency
  • oral reading fluency

Portfolio Assessment

Portfolios are collections that document the literacy development of a student and include evidence of student work in various stages. The following elements may be included in a portfolio:

  • Varied types of work, often completed over time
  • Written and artistic responses to reading
  • Writing in various genres
  • Teacher-assigned and student-generated work
  • Notes in a reading log or response journal
  • List of books read, updated regularly
  • Students’ self-reflections

Anecdotal Notes

These capture the gist of an incident that reveals something the teacher considers significant to understanding a student’s literacy learning. Anecdotal notes are intended to safeguard against the limitations of memory. Will aid the teacher in classifying information, inferring behavior, and making predictions about individual students or instructional strategies and procedures.


A checklist consists of categories that have been presented for specific diagnostic purposes. They can be relatively short and open-ended or longer and more detailed.


Through interviewing, the teacher can discover what students are thinking and feeling. Periodic student interviews can lead to a better understanding of:

  • Reading interests and attitudes
  • How students perceive their strengths and weaknesses
  • How they perceive processes related to language learning

Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman.

Classroom Application

There were so many different types of assessment listed in this chapter that I will use in my classroom some day. The informal assessment options were very interesting because they will be something I have more control over choosing instead of formal assessments which seem to be chosen more by the school district. Running records and observations will probably be the two assessments I use most.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 5: Literacy Instruction for Beginning Readers and Writers

A Look at Literacy Programs for Beginners

Emergent literacy is a concept that supports learning to read in a positive home environment where children are in the process of becoming literate from birth. This will help children create schemas about reading and writing from personal experiences. Children are always becoming  readers and writers and that they are born ready to learn about literacy and continue to grow in their understandings throughout life. The challenge of working with beginners lies in scaffolding learning and weaving together experiences that build on children’s knowledge of language and their previous interactions with texts.


Beginners should be immersed in storybook experiences. These include read-alouds, read alongs, interactive writing, rereadings of favorite texts, and independent reading and writing. They help accomplish the following instructional goals:

  • To motivate beginners to want to read and write
  • to interest beginners in listening to, reading, and writing stories, with emphasis on predicting, sharing, and extending personal meaning
  • To help beginners understand what reading and writing are all about
  • To encourage beginners to respond to stories be drawing, writing, and dramatizing their explorations of texts
  • To invite beginners to construct meaning through the use of picture cues and storybook illustrations
  • To help beginners gain familiarity with “book language” and the meaning of terms that figure in literacy instruction
  • To teach beginners about directionality
  • To teach beginners the meaning of word and the function of space in establishing boundaries between words
  • To teach beginners alphabetic principles of written language
  • To teach beginners to predict words that “must come next” in a sentence
  • To teach beginners to recognize words that they are interested in learning or that occur frequently in meaningful contexts

These goals are not sequential in the sense that one must be accomplished before another is attempted.

Learning About Features of Written Language

Children’s understanding of the relationship between speech and print can be included in linguistic awareness, which children must develop. The purpose of reading is to communicate ideas. Children also need to become aware of the technical features of reading, this includes:

  • printed letters
  • words
  • sentences
  • syllables
  • sounds
  • punctuation marks

If children are to succeed in reading, they must acquire linguistic awareness and understand the language of reading instruction.

Assessing Concepts About Print

The Concepts About Print Test examines not only what knowledge of print children possessed but also how their understanding of print changed. This test is individually given to a child. The teacher engages the child in a conversation and asks the child if he or she will help in reading a story. The teacher can then assess the child’s concepts of print as they read the book together.


Learning About Letters and Sounds

Children must learn that a word can be separated into sounds and that the segmented or separated sounds can be represented be letters which is the beginning of phonics. Phonemes are the minimal sound units that can be represented in written language. The alphabetic principle suggests that letters in the alphabet map to phonemes. Phonics is used to refer to the child’s identification of words by their sounds. This process involves the association of speech sounds with letters.

Phonemic awareness refers to an insight about oral language and the ability to segment and manipulate the sounds of speech. Phonemic awareness includes:

  • Phonemic isolation: Students are recognizing individual sounds in a word
  • Phoneme identity: Recognizing the same sound in different word
  • Phoneme categorization: Recognizing a word in a set that doesn’t fit with the others
  • Blending: Requires students to blend a series of orally presented sounds to form a word
  • Segmenting beginning and ending sounds in words: Students can isolate sounds at the beginning and ends of words
  • Segmenting separate sounds in a word: Students can segment separate sounds in a word
  • Phoneme deletion, addition, and substitution: Students take away or add something to make a new word

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear, recognize, and play with the sounds in our language. It’s the recognition that sounds in English can be broken down into smaller and smaller parts. Phonological awareness is auditory. Phonological awareness includes:

  • Sentences can be broken down into words
  • Words can be broken down into syllables
  • Words can be broken down into individual sounds
  • Words can begin or end with the same sound
  • The individual sounds of words can be blended together
  • The individual sounds of words can be manipulated (added, deleted, or substituted)

Phonological awareness also includes rhyming (rimes), alliteration (words beginning with the same sound), sentence segmenting, syllable bending and segmenting, and phonemic awareness.


We can also teach students phonemic segmentation by using Elkonin Boxes. Elkonin boxes follow these steps:

  1. Give the student a picture of a familiar object
  2. Next say the word slowly and deliberately allowing the student to heat the sounds that can be naturally segmented
  3. Now ask the student to repeat the word, modeling the way you said it
  4. Continue to model
  5. Walk the child through the procedure by attempting it together several times
  6. Show another picture and then the word
  7. Phase out the picture stimulus and the use of counters and squares

    Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman. 

Classroom Application

I will teach phonological and phonemic awareness by showing how words can be broken down into smaller parts known as phonemes or sounds. Elkonin boxes can be used for this, especially words that have sounds that don’t make the typical sound of the letter if it were by itself. There are also concepts of print that I realized was important before reading this chapter such as knowing where the front of the book is. So, this is something to work on too.

Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 370, Chapter 4: Early Literacy; From Birth to School

Phases of Literacy Development


Phase 1: Awareness and Exploration

Begins at birth and continues through preschool. Children become curious about print. Will begin to recognize logos and environmental labels. Starts scribbling and can start to identify letters and sounds. This is a great stage to incorporate environmental print. This means labeling items around the room as well as having common items with print on around the room.

Phase 2: Experimental Reading and Writing

Starts around kindergarten. Students will understand the basic concept, enjoy having stories read to them, and will start making connections to letters and their sounds, rhyming words. Will also begin to write letters and high-frequency words.

Phase 3: Early Reading and Writing

Starts at 1st grade when students are getting more direct instruction from a teacher. Students will begin to read simple stories and write about things they know. They will develop strategies for comprehension such as making predictions. Start to read more fluently because they are recognizing more words by sight. Begins to understand punctuation and capitalization.

Phase 4: Transitional Reading and Writing

Starts in 2nd grade. Students are reading more fluently and are using more comprehension strategies. Will increase their word identification strategies, sight-word recognition, reading fluency, sustained silent reading, conventional spelling, and proofreading when writing.

Phase 5: Independent and Productive Reading and Writing

Starts in 3rd grade. Students are becoming independent readers and writers. They are extending and refining their literacy skills and strategies.

How Reading Develops

Family is the greatest influence on a child. Family needs to be encouraging of a child’s reading and just exposing them to print. Also, if parents are reading, their children will be more likely to want to read too. “Children begin learning about reading and writing at a very early age by observing and interacting with adults and other children as they use literature in everyday activities” (Vacca, Vacca, & Gove, 2012, p. 107). Children need to learn that print is useful and has meaning.

How Writing Develops

Young children will learn about writing through exploration, this means they will experiment with scribbling. Early scribbling is equivalent to babbling in oral language development.

Older students will use invented spelling. Invented spelling is when students are writing and spelling words how they sound which is not always correct. These students have not quite learned all the rules of spelling yet. Teachers should encourage this, some advantages of doing this are:

  • students are making connections between letters and their sounds
  • students are becoming more independent writers and will ask for less help spelling words
  • students will have more time to write what they want and will be more engaged in their writing

Literate Learning Environments

Literate environments are also very important at a young age. Early readers thrive in environments where an adult or someone the student looks up to has a high regard for reading. Literate environments include allowing students to scribble, draw, and write. Multiple materials should be offered to encourage students to read and write. This environment could include:

  • A book area or library
  • A listening area
  • A Computer area
  • Writing area

Core Language and Literacy Skills

Oral Language Comprehension

This is the ability to speak and listen with understanding. This includes grammar, word meanings, and listening comprehension. Students should be able to quickly recognize words they hear and connect new information with what they already know. Shared book reading, singing songs, fingerplays, storytelling, and dramatic play are just some ways to encourage oral language.



Vocabulary is used to describe the words you know and can use. There are two kinds of vocabulary: receptive (listening) and receptive (talking). Reading aloud is the single most important activity for building knowledge and skills children need for later reading.

Phonological Awareness

This involves hearing the sounds in language separate from the meaning of the word. Teachers should use read-aloud books, nursery rhymes, riddles, songs, and poems that play with language and manipulate sounds.

Alphabet Knowledge

This is the ability to name and write all 26 letters of the alphabet.

Developmental Writing

Developmental writing is the first attempts at spelling words and writing. Writing materials should always be available to students to give them opportunities to write.

Print Knowledge

The ability to recognize print and understand that is works in a specific way. To teach print knowledge, the teacher can collect pictures and have the students label them, writing text under a student’s drawing, and having children identify words in their environment.

Developing Early Literacy Skills

The routines and practices that support the items listed above.

Language Experiences

language experience story is when a student is sharing a story and the teacher is writing it down. This shows the student that what they say can be turned into print and that print has meaning.

Shared reading is when the teacher and beginner readers read and reread favorite stories, songs, poems, and rhymes. This is used to show students what a book is, what an “expert” reader does with a book as it is read, and what makes a story a story.


Vacca, J. L., Vacca, R. T., & Gove, M. K. (2012). Reading and learning to read (8th ed.). New York: Longman.

Classroom Application

This chapter was so important with taking about literacy for our youngest learners. I liked the phases of literacy development. I want to work with the younger students so to see where students are developmentally and where they should be next. It is also important to remember that even though the book stated a phase starting at a certain grade level, all students are different and develop differently. That means that the whole first grade class may not be in the Early Reading and Writing phase, some may be above or below. I just always like to know where students could go next.