“Help! My student can read the words but can’t write them!” This is something that I hear a lot and is a question I used to ask often. I was constantly puzzled by kids who could read the words, but it was a struggle when it came to writing those EXACT same words.
After asking our literacy coach this question 100 times and having her tell me the same exact answer 100 times, I finally tried her simple solution: sound boxes! And let me tell you, I have used them with students in K-5, and they have been a game changer; I have noticed such an improvement in students’ spelling!
A GAME-CHANGING STRATEGY
Sound boxes are just what they sound like – individual boxes representing each sound in a word that students are writing. It’s a simple yet effective visual tool that helps students differentiate between letters and sounds. By focusing on the sounds they hear in words, rather than the individual letters, students gain a clearer understanding of phonemic awareness.
If a sound is made by more than one letter, like the /sh/ sound, students can easily place both letters in a single box, reinforcing the connection between the sound and the corresponding letters. Using sound boxes empowers students to break down words into their component sounds, enhancing their spelling and phonemic awareness skills.
Sound boxes are a versatile strategy suitable for both primary and intermediate students. They help students grasp basic sounds and develop phonemic awareness in the primary grades.
For intermediate students, sound boxes assist in writing multisyllabic words, enhancing spelling skills and deepening their understanding of word structure. By incorporating sound boxes into instruction, students can become more confident readers and writers, improving their accuracy and fluency in decoding and spelling words.
IMPLEMENTING WITH GRADUAL RELEASE
I use the Gradual Release method when introducing sound boxes to my students. First, I model for them how to stretch out the word and how each sound should go in its own box. Next, we practice the skill together.
At first, they may need several reminders to understand that two letters can go in one box if they make the same sound. Finally, they began using sound boxes independently. Sound boxes don’t have to be a life sentence, so if students become self-sufficient, they can return to regular paper as needed.
UNDERSTANDING THE READING-SPELLING CONNECTIONS
Now, let’s address the elephant in the room. Why is spelling often the last skill to solidify as children learn to read? It’s a question that might have crossed your mind. Well, here’s the deal: reading and spelling are like two sides of the same coin. When children start reading, they primarily focus on decoding and understanding words.
Spelling, on the other hand, requires them to encode words and translate sounds into written symbols. It’s a more complex cognitive process that often takes time to develop. So, while they might be proficient readers, spelling mastery is still a work in progress.
EMBRACE SOUND BOXES IN YOUR CLASSROOM
FREE Sound Boxes
You can access a free sample set of ready-to-use templates for your students, allowing them to practice segmenting words into sounds and allocating each sound to its corresponding box.
These lessons are specifically designed to provide additional guidance and strategies for students who may require extra assistance with specific phonics skills.
These lessons are specifically designed to provide additional guidance and strategies for students who may require extra assistance with decoding multisyllabic words.
The free resources are a great starting point for introducing sound boxes in your classroom and supporting your students’ phonics and spelling skills. The intervention lessons provide a more comprehensive structure that includes dictation.
Sound boxes are a powerful tool that bridges the gap between reading and writing. Incorporating sound boxes into your teaching gives students a visual and hands-on approach to connecting sounds with letters, boosting their writing abilities.
With the gradual release method and supporting resources at your disposal, you can empower your students to become confident and independent writers. Embrace the magic of sound boxes in your classroom and watch your students’ writing potential flourish. Happy teaching!
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