For this activity, students divide several target words into syllables. Then, they arrange these component syllables on a chart (called a RAN, or Rapid Automatized Naming, chart), and practice reading the syllables on the chart as quickly as they can. Finally, they return to the original words and practice reading them again. This activity develops students’ ability to use syllabification for accurate and automatic decoding of longer words. The repeated reading component develops automatic recognition of word chunks, which facilitates greater automaticity in word recognition and retrieval.
- Identify several multisyllabic words from a text or unit of study. (Or plan to allow students to do this themselves). Ideally, you should find words that follow the standard rules of English syllabification; avoid foreign words.
- Teacher reviews what a syllable is, and what it means to divide a word into syllables. Teacher reviews six syllable types and rules of syllable division. Teacher leads discussion about the value of syllable identification and syllabification.A syllable is each part of a word that contains a vowel sound. There are six syllable types in English, and knowing these syllable types helps a learner to spell and decode, since the type of syllable determines the pronunciation of the vowel sound.You will want to show at least one example of a word in which the syllables and morphemes do not match up. You can draw lines through the word to indicate syllable breaks with one color pen, and indicate morpheme breaks with another color pen.Display the syllable types and the rules of syllable division if needed.The book Solving Language Difficulties by Amey Steere, Caroline Z. Peck, and Linda Kahn has very clear explanations of syllable types and syllable division patterns, as well as many no-frills exercises to practice using them.
- Students prepare to work individually or in groups. Teacher gives each individual or group several words.You can easily differentiate this activity by giving simpler words to struggling students.You can also ask students to identify words themselves, but in this case you will just want to ensure that they are good choices (i.e., multisyllabic and regularly spelled).
- Students analyze the syllable structure of the words. Using standard patterns of syllable division, students draw vertical lines between letters in the word to indicate syllable breaks.
As students are working you can circulate among them and ask them what they are noticing, and what they understand. Provide a review or reference sheet about syllable types and syllable division as needed.
- After dividing a word into syllables, students identify the vowel sound of each syllable. They mark vowels as either short or long (they can leave diphthongs and R-controlled vowels blank, since these are confusing). This is repeated for each word.
Circulate among students, and remind them of the properties of each syllable type. Discuss their syllable division choices.
- Students pick five syllables from the words they divided.
Encourage students to pick syllables that seem common or challenging—the ones that will be most useful to practice.
- Students create a RAN chart with the selected syllables. The chart should have five rows, each row ten syllables long. Each of the five selected syllables should be randomly repeated ten times, so that the finished chart has ten columns and five rows, f
Provide several models of RAN charts. You may also want to provide a blank RAN chart with boxes or lines where students can write each syllable.
- In pairs, students take turns reading the RAN chart as quickly as they can. A partner should time each student’s reading, and record the time. The partner should also record the errors. Students alternate until each student has read the chart three timIt can be nice to provide students with a plastic sleeve and a dry erase marker, so that they can mark the errors for each reading without permanently marking the chart. Alternately, students could indicate errors using three differently colored highlighters or pens, one for each reading.Circulate as students are working to listen to their reading, clarify confusion, and probe their thinking.
- Students read the original words aloud. They discuss with a partner how the experience of reading the whole word is different after the syllable practice.This activity should make reading the whole word easier and faster.As an optional extra step, students can make a RAN chart with the whole words as well, and practice reading those.
- Alone or in groups, in conversation or in writing, students reflect on their learning process.
Students respond to questions including:
- How do syllables help you to pronounce a word?
- How do syllables help you to spell a word?
- How can you train your brain to identify words more automatically?
- Why is it important to be able to identify words automatically?