Tomorrow I will start a new fourth grade small group tutoring club for some English language learners. In the pretest, I noticed they didn’t acknowledge the long vowel in silent e nonsense words.
In addition, these fourth graders’ pre assessments showed a lack of variety in the vowel sounds for the cvc words they pronounced. We have always had difficulty teaching so many vowel sounds to our students. Arabic has only 8 vowel/diphthongs and English has 22 different vowels and diphthongs. We really notice it when trying to teach the short vowel sounds. For instance, even for native English speakers, the differences between /i/ and /e/ are subtle.
We have created some visual cues to help the children. These have proven helpful to children with spelling. Rather than just tell them the letter names of “regular”-sounding words, we tell them the sounds in the word as we use the visual cues, which are also hanging on posters in the room for them to refer to at all times.
Another important reason for us all to have a unique visual cue for each of these vowels is the fact that each teacher brings his or her own unique English accent from Egypt, India, Uganda, U.S.A., Sri Lanka, Philippines, Canada, England, and more countries over the years.
Today I wrote some poems, which I may bring to my fourth grade students. I found it fun thinking about these little tricksters and writing these poems today. I used a Fibonacci sequence to 13 and then backwards to one syllable.
Sounds like apple /a/
Elephant /e/, igloo /i/, Whee!
Olive /o/ and umbrella /u/ – Try one of these sounds
When a c-v-c word you see–
pap, pep, pip, pop, pup
There’s the key
names to Z–
Great big silent e
Quietly changes c-v-c
Say their name sounds now: A, E, I, O, and U, you see–
blaze, these, ripe, rope, ruse–try some more:
mame, meme, mime, mome, mume