In our dictation class this year students have been working with spelling patterns for long and short vowel sounds in one-syllable words. For example, the short vowel sound is typically spelled CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) and the long vowel sound for many words is spelled CVCe (silent e at the end) or CVVC (vowel team). The students have learned that the same sound can be spelled with more than one vowel team, so they often need to consider certain factors. Where is the vowel sound in the word? If it is in the middle, certain vowel teams are more typical. If it is at the end, other vowel teams are more typical. For example, long-u sound in the middle of a word could be spelled oo as in smooth or ui as in fruit. If it is at the end of a word, it could be spelled ew as in new or ue as in blue. Is it a homophone? Because we could also have knew or blew. Does it look right? Sometimes students try out spellings—among the likely choices—to see which one “looks” right. Is it brume, broom, or bruim?
Each class begins with the students cooperatively sorting a set of words. Students use the words to review digraphs, consonant blends, double consonants, spellings of the sounds /k/, /s/, or /z/, and the use of silent letters (such as k in knew). They find, discuss, and use rhyming words and homophones. They practice writing pattern words as well as writing sentences that use pattern words. Students increase their understanding of words by playing games such as Rhyming Go Fish.