Six Syllable Types

For years, my school district has pushed back on qualifying students with learning disabilities with reading fluency only. The stance has always been--there is always a reason for being disfluent. Go back and look for the reason.  Well, time and time again--they have been right. The larger reason--the true root cause of the student's learning need!

For me, it always boils done to students needing phonics instruction. It might be the basics: sounds and letters or a Tier 2 intervention then the student is off to the races. However, most of the time it's an advanced phonics need. The student needs to work on vowel teams or open syllables.

When in doubt, look at the words the missed on a running record or oral reading fluency. The photo is the word level analysis of a student's oral reading fluency progress monitoring over 3 weeks. I can now the information to drive my instruction and see (if anything) needs to be changed. In this case, no but I do need to double check the scope & sequence of the phonics program she is in to ensure the advanced phonics she needs does indeed get taught in a timely fashion.

For many who teach reading the mere idea of advanced phonics or what do you mean there are 6 syllable types--its greek. FYI: when looking for a phonics program or intervention look for one with a scope & sequence that covers all 6 syllable types.

Students benefit from learning the concept of syllables, such as hearing them in words, understanding the syllable-spelling connection, and knowing that every syllable has a vowel. There are six common types of syllables found in English orthography. Direct instruction how these syllable patterns work in reading and spelling can be a powerful skill building activity for students, especially those who struggle to read, write, and spell.Knowing these help them learn to read and spell. Oh, and read fluently.

I teach the six syllable types starting with my 1st graders. For example, why are certain vowels used, when should you double consonants, and how does one know the correct way to pronounce sounds in words? Reading and spelling no longer feel so random and mysterious once children learn how words work. (My school's spelling program works students through the types--CRS.)

Breaking words down into syllables simplifies reading and spelling, especially for more fluent readers and spellers. Think about how you spell long, unknown words. You probably break the word down into manageable chunks as you spell it. Systematically teaching students how to hear syllables, then teaching the six syllable types, helps students read and spell challenging, multisyllabic words they previously would have misread or skipped.

The six syllable types are:

Closed Syllables
Vowels in closed syllables are usually short. These are typically the first words taught and learned, so this is a good place to start syllable type instruction. Closed syllables have a short vowel, followed by at least one consonant: much, vet, shell, insect, publish, sunset

Open Syllables
Open syllables end in a vowel that is usually long. Some examples of open syllables are: shy, go, me, silo, zero. Words can have more than one type of syllable, such as these words with both an open and closed syllable: rerun or robot.

Vowel-consonant-silent e Syllables
Vowels in these syllables are long and the final e is silent. Some examples are: lime, those, snake. Examples of words with an open and vowel-consonant-silent e syllable are: define, migrate, and beside.

Vowel Pair Syllables
Also known as Vowel Teams, these vowel sounds are spelled with digraphs such as: plain, coat, cowboy.

R-Controlled Syllables
These syllables have a vowel followed by an r. The r affects the sound the vowel makes, and both sounds are heard within the same syllable. Examples with or, ir, er, ar, ur are: star, bird, her, turtle.

Consonant-le Syllables
These syllables are also known as final stable syllables. Students will usually discover that when they see a consonant followed by le at the end of a word, the three letters form a syllable. Some examples are: bubble, maple, kettle, and fiddle.



Though I stick to phonics programs to teach syllable types you can do this in guided reading as you see students needing the support.

Until Next Time,


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Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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