Teaching Ideas

Phoneme Grapheme Relationships

Submitted by Sue (10-10-2012)

Teaching phonemic awareness and letter name recognition is crucial to beginning reading - don't forget vocabulary, comprehension and fluency.

I use THRASS as a tool to develop understandings of phonemes and associated graphemes. In my school we begin this in Transition (4 year olds) and continue through the grades.

THRASS is a tool, not a programme! It provides the resources, teaching aids, ideas etc, but your programme will be based upon the syllabus and your students needs.

I begin by teaching letter name recognition and automatic recall. At the same time, I teach phonemic awareness (blending and segmenting two and three phoneme words, moving on to four, five and six when students are ready), reminding students that letters do not have a sound until they are in a word.

At all times I use the correct language (phoneme (speech sound), grapheme (spelling choice)graph, digraph, trigraph, quadgraph, letter name etc) as do all of the teachers, so we are all on the same page. Correct letter handwriting is also taught, to ensure students develop automaticity and can concentrate on reading and writing rather than letter formation.

Once students are ready, I move onto teaching the graphemes that represent the phoneme, one phoneme at a time initially. This assists in decoding and encoding when reading,as well as spelling. For example, the phoneme a can be represented as a, ai, ay, eigh, ey and so on.

Teaching one letter one sound will limit children's understanding of the English language - that's why you have children spelling 'was' as 'woz',and 'said' as 'sed' and then teachers and students wonder why they can't spell the word!

Sight words are taught, with children saying the phonemes, reading the word and spelling the word. There are no tricky words, as all words can be said phonemically - and the appropriate grapheme taught.

If in doubt, have a look in a dictionary that uses IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). I use one all the time, especially when working with my older students.

This works !!!!!!!!
I have used this method for years with great success with students of all abilities.
Remember that the quality of the teaching is so important(systematic and explicit, with quality feedback), and opportunities for teacher modelling, guided and independent practise (the effective teaching cycle).

To teach this way successfully, you must have a good understanding of how the language works. Professional development is crucial, as is being willing to embrace the teaching of reading and spelling from a different perspective to that traditionally taught.

This is just a brief outline, as there is so much to the teaching of reading. I recommend to teachers to continue reading their professional journals and to keep up with current research - a google search is the easiest way.

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What others are saying...

Megan (10-01-2013)

Great Sue. Your teaching is very closely aligned to the phases of the 'letters and sounds' program. A good program for those looking to mirror your style of teaching. IT WORKS!!

Mary (10-10-2012)

I read Sue's piece on Phoneme Grapheme Relationships with great interest. The concluding comments encouraged teachers to continue their own professional development in the area of reading, a suggestion I strongly support. Does Sue have a 'TOP 5-10 reading sites' list that she could recommend to others who are seeking to access quality, up-to-date current research on this topic?

Sue (10-10-2012)

Hi Mary
I am taking an Australian perspective.
The easiest way I find current research articles is to read professional association journals. Your school should be members of these organisations and the journals available to you. They would definitely be in your local university library if you are near one or a member - most have discounted membership for alumni.
The internet alternative if looking for a particular topic is to use Google Scholar, or a database such as ERIC or Proquest - there are others. You could also go to professional organisation websites, as these generally have a research area and an area for papers presented at conferences- have a look at ALEA (Australian Literacy Educators' Association), AASE (Australian Association of Special Education), The University of Sydney Division of Professional Learning, THRASS, ACER, Curriculum Corporation. These are ones that I have used. I am a member of a number of professional organisations, and therefore receive journals and attend some of the conferences when I can. Fantastic PD, and gives an insight into what is happening here and overseas. A good investment!
I often find that a google search will send me in many directions, depending upon the links I follow. Also, some of the articles are not free to view on the net. It is also good to check if an article has been peer reviewed.
Have a look at the National Curriculum site, as there should be some interesting reading there also - I haven't been there for a while myself.
I hope that is of some help to you.


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