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Teaching Syllable Segmentation

In my 3rd and 4th grade decoding and encoding intervention groups, we have been working on syllable segmentation. I had a major internal conflict on whether or not to teach it as part of an intervention group, and in the end, I decided it would be worth the time to focus on it, and I was right!

After lots of research, and a lot of time spent looking at student data that clearly conveyed some of their deficits in reading and spelling, I decided to teach syllable segmentation for these reasons:

  • Students can do it.  They find success in things such as this, and success is just what they need.
  • Segmenting syllables helps students encode (spell).  It gives them another tool to identify consonant-le words, prefixes, suffixes, doubled consonants, etc.
  • Segmenting syllables helps students decode (read).  When students–particular those with reading deficits–come across multisyllabic words, they often struggle with whether or not sounds are short or long, which letter pairs are digraphs, diphthongs, etc.  Learning to look at words in syllable chunks can help students immensely. 
  • It helps students with the correct pronunciation of words.
  • It helps students to hear all the sounds in words.
  • It’s an advanced form of phonemic awareness.
We only spent a few days on it, but we made a foldable for them to keep in their desks to help remind them, and I made an accompanying anchor chart.  The kids really enjoyed it, and to reinforce the concept, we do a lot of auditory syllabication and then paper syllabication.

You will notice that we use the Orton-Gillingham approach to some of the syllabication strategies in that the students identify the vowels first (since there can only be one vowel sound per syllable in any given word), and then build a bridge.  Students then know that they are only looking at the letters in between  the bridge to determine where to split.
I could write a book on syllable division/segmentation, but I hope the anchor chart and foldable can help you and your students!

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