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More Random Tidbits About Our Language Reading Teachers Should Know

I'm sharing more ideas that I learned from my LETRS (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling) workshop from a couple of weeks ago. 

More Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know:  How many of these facts might change your teaching of reading?

The instructor, Carol Tolman, was brilliant and inspiring!  She really knows her stuff! See the previous post HERE. Here are more of the things I learned from her:

1. First Grade Instruction:

First grade Reading/ Literacy Instruction should be 40% Word Work. The other 60% should be Guided Reading, Writing, Oral Vocabulary, Oral Comprehension, and Handwriting. The word work percentage goes down slightly through the grades as the children get older.

2. Handwriting:

Handwriting is 85% linguistics and 15% fine motor skills.

3. Phonological awareness

Fifty-two studies have proved that phonological awareness is essential for reading success.  Quite often we need to back struggling readers up to this point.  (Phonological awareness is the skills that we could do "in the dark", before we start matching sounds to letters.  This refers to "Which word has the same sound as a in hat?" or "Which word rhymes with log?"

4. Words ending in S

Rarely do word ends in a single s unless it's plural. That's why words like horse and house have the silent e.  If house were spelled hous, it would mean "more than one hou". I honestly can't think of any exceptions to this!

5. Words ending in J or V

Words rarely end in Jor V  either. That explains the spellings of words like have and huge. Final e has several purposes, besides making a vowel long.

6. Words with tch

The spelling tch typically occurs after a short vowel, with ch coming after a long vowel or "vowel team". There are a few exceptions like such and much, but most words follow this pattern. I never knew this, and I had a tch in my maiden name! (After a short vowel, of course!)

7. When to teach phonics

Phonics should be taught through 6th grade (or later, if needed). After 3rd grade, kids respond better when it's called Advanced Word Study or Linguistics, but it needs to be taught daily.

8. "Air writing"

When "air writing", have children start with their shoulders, not arm or hand.  This makes a bigger neuron trace in the brain.

Well there you go! 
How many of these did you know?
What "reading facts" can you add to this list?

More Random Tidbits About Our Language That Reading Teachers Should Know:  How many of these facts might change your teaching of reading?


  1. Jessica,

    Loved your blog! I love the idea of using Google Earth for literature like Make Way for Ducklings! (Always a favorite of mine, especially since I grew up in the Boston area!)


  2. Just a comment on #4... the word bus ends in a single s and is not plural as does others like gas, has, his. Perhaps short vowel words are exceptions?
    Also for #6, tch can occur after the schwa sound of watch and swatch.
    Just wanted your readers to be additionally informed! Thanks.

  3. Another comment for #4 that I found funny, ends isn't plural and it ends with a single s. Thanks for the information. I'd love to know more about handwriting instruction being 85% linguistic.


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