Concepts and Activities

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Simple View of Reading
Reading is an interactive process of translating symbols on a page into words and attaching meaning to those words. Without the ability to translate symbols into words, the reader cannot access meaning from a printed age. Without the ability to attach meaning to the words on a printed page, the reader gains nothing for his or her translation efforts.
The Simple View of Reading proposed by Gough and Tumner in 1986, holds that Reading Comprehension - the ultimate goal of reading - is based on two components: Decoding and Language Comprehension. Decoding is the ability to translate symbols on a page into words. Language Comprehension is understanding what words mean.
The Simple View of Reading does not assume that learning how to read is easy, but it provides a straightforward model for understanding what skills need to be in place in order for skilled reading to occur.
Think of the Simple View of Reading as a multiplication formula with reading comprehension as the product of decoding and language comprehension. If any piece is missing or is a zero, than reading comprehension will falter. For example, someone could have a great oral vocabulary. They know, understand, and use lots of words at the speaking level, but they struggle when the words are at the written level. If you cannot decode or read a word, it does not matter if you understand the word, your reading comprehension will still be a zero. A person could be able to decode accurately and fluidly but not be able to attach any meaning to these words. Reading comprehension will also be a zero.

Phonemes (Sounds)
Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear sounds, identify sounds, and manipulate sounds in spoken words. Spoken words are made up of speech sounds that are called phonemes. English has 40-44 speech sounds or phonemes. For learners to become successful in understanding how sounds and symbols go together, learners must be able to detect phonemes in words.
A phoneme is the smallest unit of spoken language that makes a difference in the meaning of a word or changes the pronunciation of a word.
Let's practice counting phonemes.
Say a word out loud. Count out only the sounds that you hear not the letters that you see.
Dog. How many sounds? 3 - /d/ /ŏ/ /g/
Three. How many sounds? 3 - /th/ /r/ /ē/
Articulation is the vocal production of speech in which the mouth, tongue, lips, teeth, and other parts of the vocal tract are used in specific ways. It is important to be articulate and pronounce your sounds distinctly and clearly because learners imitate the sounds in the words that they hear. Many times when we speak we glide over sounds, blend them together, or leave sounds off words. (Like someone might say "Didja get it?" or "I am fixin' the leaky faucet.")
This can be a problem for some learners when they start to read and spell because the word they hear does not match the word in print. So teaching sounds or phonemic awareness requires close attention to clearly enunciating the sounds. All phonemes have certain characteristics.
Let's make a discovery about vowels. Say /ă/. Your mouth is open. Place your fingers on your vocal chords and say /ă/. Can you feel your vocal chords vibrate? Vowels are open and voiced.
Now, let's make a discovery about consonants. Say /l/. Notice that the sound is blocked by your tongue. Say /s/. This sound is blocked by your teeth. Now say /m/. What blocks this sound? The /m/ sound is blocked by your lips, isn't it? Say /b/. The lips are together and blocking the sound and then the lips release. When you say a consonant sound, it closes your mouth. Consonant sounds are blocked or partially blocked by the tongue, teeth, or lips.
Now, place your fingers on your vocal chords. Say /m/. Do you feel your vocal chords vibrate? Yes. The /m/ sound is voiced. Say /s/. Do you feel your vocal chords vibrate? No, and so the /s/ sound is said to be unvoiced. Consonant sounds may be either voiced or unvoiced.
Here are some terms:
Open - If a sound is open, that means the mouth is open and NOT blocked by the tongue, teeth or lips. It does not mean the mouth is wide open, it means that nothing in the mouth is blocking the sound. All the vowel sounds in English are open. (All the consonant sounds are blocked or partially blocked except for one - h.)
Blocked - The positions of the tongue, teeth, and lips are constant through the entire sound production. /m/ is a blocked phoneme. The position of the lips never changes.
Partially blocked - There is a release of the tongue, teeth, or lips during the sound production. /b/ is a partially blocked phoneme. The lips are released during production.
Consonant phoneme sounds may be continuant or clipped. A continuant phoneme is prolonged - you can continue to make the sound until you run out of breath - like the phoneme, /m/.
A clipped phoneme is not prolonged - it is brief. The important idea is to make sure you do not add /uh/ to the end. An example of a clipped phoneme is /t/. Notice the sound is not /tŭh/. Say it again, /t/.
Go back to the charts in your handouts and determine which sounds are continuant or clipped.
(Note: Vowel sounds are not counted as being continuant or clipped because they open the mouth.)
When voiced phonemes are produced, the vocal cords are activated during production. Place your fingers on your throat and say /m/. /m/ is voiced because it activates the vocal cords - you feel a vibration.
When unvoiced phonemes are produced, the vocal cords are not activated during production. Place your fingers on your throat and say /s/. /s/ is unvoiced because the vocal cords are not activated - you do not feel vibration.
Determine which sounds are voiced, or vibrating the vocal chords, and which are unvoiced, not vibrating the vocal chords.
PhonemeKey Word   PhonemeKey Word
/ā/ apron   /h/ house
/ē/ equal   /j/ jam
/ī/ iris   /k/ kite
/ō/ opener   /ks/ box
/ū/ unicorn   /kw/ queen
      /l/ leaf
/͜ar/ star      
/͜er/ fern   /m/ mitten
/͜or/ fork   /n/ nest
/oo/ book   /p/ pig
/oo/ moon   /r/ rabbit
/au/ saucer   /s/ sock
/oi/ coil   /t/ table
/ou/ out   /v/ valentine
      /w/ wagon
/ĭ/ itch   /y/ yarn
/ĕ/ echo   /z/ zipper
/ă/ apple      
/ŏ/ octopus   /ch/ chair
/ŭ/ umbrella   /sh/ ship
      /ng/ king
/b/ bat   /th/ mother
/d/ dog   /th/ thimble
/f/ fish   /zh/ explosion
/g/ goat   /hw/ whistle

Syllable Sort
There are more than 700,000 words in the English language and it is impossible to be able to read every single one of them without some assistance. To know how to pronounce a word correctly, you can have someone tell you what the word is or you can determine the syllable type to know how to pronounce the vowel. The majority of the words in English can be categorized into six syllable types. Knowing these syllable types provides a reliable strategy to learning how to decode and read unfamiliar words.
When we talk about identifying syllable types, remember that a syllable is a word or part of a word that is made with one opening of the mouth. Every syllable has one vowel sound. When you are identifying syllables, you are identifying what the vowel is in each syllable and what that vowel will say.
The most confusing part of reading is trying to figure out what a vowel says in an unfamiliar word. Vowels can have more than one sound. Knowledge of the six syllable types can help a reader know if a vowel is going to be long or short or have an unexpected sound.
The more than 700,000 words in English represent one syllable type or a composite of several different syllable types. The value of knowing the syllable types is that the reader can better determine the sound of the vowel.
To reinforce the concepts syllable types, learners can sort syllables.
[picture of syllable sort]
For example, "The first syllable ends in one vowel." Learners identify the syllable type: "This is an open syllable." Then learners identify the vowel. "A vowel in an open syllable is long." Lastly, learners read the word. "The word is me."
Let’s look at the next syllable. The syllable ends in at least one consonant after one vowel. The syllable is a closed syllable. The vowel in a closed syllable is short. The word is sat.
Try this strategy. The syllable ends _____________________. The syllable is a _____________. The vowel is ________________________. The word is ____________________.