Consonants usually represent one sound during earlier lessons on alphabetic principles students would learn to recognize letters. In phonics we have to put sounds and graphemes together.
Consonants can also make blends, two letters the blend into each other such as /c/ and /l/ in “clear” or a a digraph, where two letters make a new sound such as /sh/ in ship.
Researchers, parents, and teachers agree students must know the alphabetic system inorder to grasp the meaning of what is read and this requires phonemic awareness (Ehri, 1998). We also know phonics requires integration into this phonemic awareness with lessons in fluency, and comprehension. The introduction of consonant sounds through explicit phoneme and grapheme mapping often provide the link between alphabetic principle, phonemic awareness, and phonics.
You teach two to four sound spellings a week (Andersson et al., 1985) to increase the ability to recognize the single phoneme to grapheme mapping
We use the mnemonic device CLOVER to remember the six common phonics generalization and syllable patterns.
- C-closed. meaning the word ends in a consonant such as cat. Closed words usually have a short vowel sound
- L. -Consonant-le such as“bubble” these words do not follow the magic e rule
- O Open words such as “she” that end in a vowel and not a consonant. These have a long vowel sound
- V Vowel combinations such as digraphs and dipthongs found in vowel phonics patterns
- E The magic E rule, which is really a split digraph where the magic e makes the first vowel a long vowel
- R R controlled vowel or bossy R. Negates the magic e rule. Try to say carve like cave but with a long vowel
Research Based Teaching Tips
Feel a sound.When introducing new consonants have students compare how their mouth moves. Have students feel the sounds they make. Yet When students place hand up tot their mouth have them say the letter and make the sound.
Say my name. When introducing new consonants let students trace the shape and say the letter and the sound. Encourage students to draw and label objects that start with the letter.
Stretch and Smash When introducing a new consonant start with cvc words. Have students segment and identify specific letters in the word. Have them point out the consonant you are teaching. As you progress into consonant digraphs and blends continue to make connections to phonemic awareness be blending and segmenting sounds and graphemes.
Word Building Word building activities (Beck , 2006) have students get opportunities to make associations with grapheme-phoneme connections by repeatedly changing one letter in a word.When you teach digraphs you can switch by sounds.
Decodable Text Decodable text involve using books with a specific onset and/or rhyme to help build fluency in reading common grapheme-phoneme connections. Do not rely solely on publisher based text. Making mad libs storied or writing decodable texts can often increase ownership and motivation. Two factors we know improve reading.
Word Sorts Words sorts have students sort words based on a vowel pattern. So yo you have students sort /rain/ and /bay/ into one pile and /meat/ and /feet/ in another. Or the can separate by spelling and have four piles.
Encoding Examine digraphs in writing. This also helps to identify where students need help with phonics instructions.Sounds such as /ch/ and /tr/ can remain difficult and others such as /ck/ have silent letters. (Share & Stanovich, 1995) so providing opportunities to decode and encode the phoneme-grapheme connection will help. In later readers look for mistakes around soft g and c and hard g and c based on vowel rules.
Dictation Dictation also helps with consonant discrimination. Students have a journal and the teacher dictates words they have built with the class. The students then write those words down.