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Part 3 – Developing the skill of writing

The children are taught how to hear and identify the sounds in words, which is an essential skill for writing. Dictation is demonstrated, starting with letter sounds and progressing to words.

Part 3: Developing the skills for writing

 

One of the most effective ways of teaching children to write is through dictation. In the beginning, dictate letter sounds. For example, the teacher might say, “I want you to write an /a/”. The children then try and write /a/ on the board, their own board or on paper [demonstration]. If only one or two children are involved in the dictation, then it is easy to see if the letter sound is written neatly and with the correct formation, but that is impossible in a whole-class situation. Instead, the teacher could demonstrate it on the board afterwards, saying, for example: “Did you remember when you wrote the /a/ to go up and round, back up to the top again and down? Did it look like this? Well done. Then give yourself a tick. Now try and write a /p/.”

 

Dictating a few letter sounds every session improves the skill of writing, as well as continuing to revise the letter sounds. This is enormously helpful to the children who have poor memories and who find it difficult to remember the letter sounds.

 

The next stage is to show the children how to write words. For this skill, the children initially need to be taught to hear the sounds in words (segmenting). A way of developing this skill is to model it by calling out words and then saying the sounds, such as bus … /b-u-s/, pet … /p-e-t/ or hot … /h-o-t/, and so on. Usually six to ten words are enough for each session. It is not long before the children, after being told a word, are able to say the sounds by themselves, without any help. It only takes a minute for each session. Somehow, holding up a finger for each sound seems to make it easier for the children to hear the sounds in words and it certainly keeps them active. At the end of each quick session, it works well to demonstrate on the board how we actually write words. For example, you might say that you would like to write the word hat and then ask the children to call out the sounds for you. As they say the sounds, you write the letters [demonstration].

 

Once a child can hear the sounds in words and knows how to write the letters for those sounds, then he or she will be able to write words from dictation. So each dictation session would then include a few letter sounds and a few words. It works well to do a little bit, often, rather than have long sessions. When dictating words, it is important to choose ones that are regular and that only use the letter sounds that have been taught. A downloadable word bank for each step can be found in the Resources section (or by scrolling to the bottom of the screen in Steps 1 to 5), providing samples of suitable words. For example, if the letter sound /b/ has been taught, then any of the /b/ words, as well as the previous words, would be suitable for dictation.

 

The speed at which children are able to learn the letter sounds varies enormously. When teaching an individual child, it is possible to teach the letter sounds at the pace that the child can learn them. That is a luxury! In a whole- class situation it is very different. There are many children in a class and they need to be taught at the same time.

 

With whole-class teaching it is important to have a good pace to the teaching, and it is recommended that five letter sounds are taught each week, one a day. Sometimes there are special circumstances and a slightly slower pace can be used. The really important thing to remember is that the children should not be asked to read words that use letter sounds that have not been taught. That means, in the early steps, keeping to regular words that can be blended successfully. With knowledge of just 18 letter sounds, hundreds of words can be blended, such as /p-e-g/ peg, /h-o-p/ hop, /k-i-ck/ kick, and so on.

This applies to writing words as well. Banks of suitable dictation words for each step can be downloaded from the Resources section. Many of the words will be the same for reading and writing; however, some words are avoided for writing, such as those with double letters, like bell and rabbit, or those spelt with a ‹k›, such as kick. This is because the children may not know at this stage when to use double letters or know which /k/ to write when they hear it: the caterpillar /c/, the kicking /k/ or both.

 

At this early stage, we tend to use only the caterpillar /c/ for dictation. By carefully selecting the words, the children can spell the words correctly just by listening for the sounds and writing the appropriate letters. After blending words a few times, most children can say the words without blending, which is the aim of the teaching. Then blending is only needed for new words that have not been read before. Similarly, after a word has been segmented and written a few times it becomes known and then segmenting is only needed for words that have not been written before.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - color - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds

    The first 18 letter sounds taught in Step 1. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters or for word building practice.

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - bw

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - colour

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - b&w - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - color- print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on coloured card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank - print letters

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on colored card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - color - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.