Karen Filewych

Karen has over twenty-five years of educational experience as an elementary teacher, school administrator, and language arts consultant. She enjoys sharing her love of literacy with teachers and students. She is now booking professional development for teachers and writing residencies for students for the 2022-2023 school year!

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Words Change Worlds

"When teaching grade one I noticed how language — specifically learning to read and write — empowered students. This idea has captivated me since. Join me in my quest to change the world through words."
-Karen Filewych


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This week on the Words Change Worlds blog

As promised… an example of orthographic mapping!

Orthographic mapping is a process that helps lock a word into memory so it can be recognized instantly by sight. In the example below you will notice the explicit focus on the connection between the phonemes and graphemes. The process is most effective when we can also connect the meaning of the word to various contexts.

1. Say the word to students and ask them to repeat it.

  • “Today we’re going to map the word have. Say it with me. Have.”

2. Connect the word to meaning and/or give context.

  • “We use this word a lot. Sometimes we use it in statements like this one: I have new shoes on today. Sometimes we use it when we are asking questions: Have you seen Min this morning?”

3. Analyze the sounds in the word.

  • “As I say the word have, I want you to put up a finger for each sound you hear. I’ll say it slowly: have.”
  • “How many sounds did you hear? That’s right! Three.”
  • “Try saying the word yourself and put up a finger for each sound you hear. I should hear you stretching out that word.”

4. Analyze the spelling of the word.

  • “Okay, now I am going to write the word have on the board. Look at the letters as I say each sound.”
  • “What did you notice?” (Students can talk about the letter e used at the end of the word.) 
  • “You’re right. There is an ‘e’ at the end of the word have. What sound does an ‘e’ usually make? /e/ Do we hear the /e/ sound in have?”

5. Connect the word’s sounds with its spelling.

  • “You told me there are three sounds in the word have. Let’s look at the letters that go with each sound.”
  • Using an Elkonin box with three spaces, write the letters for the word have as you say it, stretching it out for emphasis. The last box will have ‘ve’ together.
  • “What did you notice about the letters? That’s right! The ‘ve’ are together making the /v/ sound.”

6. Give students the opportunity to practise reading and spelling the word.

(Individual white boards are ideal for this activity.)

  • “Okay, you write the word with me now. Listen to the sounds as you write.”
  • “Did you remember to put both letters ‘v’ and ‘e’ for the /v/ sound? If not, add the ‘e’ now.”
  • “Let’s read it together. Drag your fingers under the letters as you read.”
  • “Great! Now erase your board and try writing the word yourself.”
  • “Once you’re finished, read it one more time.”

7. Connect back to meaning and context.

  • “A few minutes ago, I used the word have in a statement—I have new shoes on today. Turn to your partner and say a statement using the word have.”
  • “I also used the word have in a question—Have you seen Min this morning? Ask your partner a question using this word. Here’s a hint: the word have will often be at the beginning of a question.”

8. Connect to other words that follow a similar pattern.

  • “Can you think of any other words that are spelled this way with a ‘ve’ at the end making a /v/ sound?” (love, live)
  • If time, map one of these other words as well.

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