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15th May 2014 - Helping your struggling learners with long vowel sounds

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How should I set targets for the long vowel sounds?
This is quite a tricky question but the important thing is to practise the long vowel sounds in a systematic way.

What’s on the target sheet?
On the Catch Up® Literacy target sheet, there is a heading for ‘Phonic knowledge’ and two bullet points with space for the supporting adult to record which aspect of phonic knowledge the learner most needs to work on.

How do I know which phonic skill to target?
Decisions about what skill to target will be determined by the learner’s performance on the Catch Up® Literacy Assessment 3 (Phonic knowledge). Don’t forget: working on long vowel phonemes will only be suitable for learners who are competent at the previous stages of phonic knowledge.

Top Tips:

1. The Catch Up® Literacy session is not designed to initially teach long vowel sounds. The 6 minutes of linked writing in the individual session are an excellent opportunity for learners to practise segmenting and blending phonemes they have been taught elsewhere in the curriculum.

2. If the learner is new to long vowel phonemes, it is better not to confuse them by introducing the alternative spelling options for the same grapheme all at once. (So do not teach ‘train’ ‘play’ and ‘make’ together.)

Order of teaching long vowel phonemes
Step 1

It’s easier for the learner to grasp the long vowel sounds where the vowel says its name, so initially it is better to target the most frequently used of the spelling options for those sounds:
ai ee igh oa oo

Set two of these for the phonic targets but choose one at a time to work on in the 6 minutes of linked writing.

Step 2

Move on to practising the following phonemes with these grapheme options:
ay ie ow (as in slow) ue oy

Set two of these for the phonic targets but choose one at a time to work on in the linked writing.

Step 3

Next, the learner is ready to practise the split vowel digraphs
a-e i-e o-e u-e

These can often be taught as a group, as the same principle applies to all (the ‘e’ at the end has the effect of ‘lengthening’ the vowel in the middle). So the phonics target could just be: Split vowel digraphs

Step 4

By now, the learner should have a good general understanding of the principle of long vowel phonemes and so it is time to introduce the alternative spelling options for some of the phonemes already taught. For example, oe (to link with ‘oa’) , oi (to link with ‘oy’) and ew (to link with ‘u-e). There’s not a lot of point in specifying these in the targets in separate bullet points, so the phonics target could be: Alternative spellings for long vowel sounds.

Good luck helping your learners getting to grips with long vowel phonemes.

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