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Sound Waves

Professional Reading



Helping students make correct grapheme choices: Unpacking the Kite Sound Box

Some phonemes (sounds) are represented by just one or two different graphemes (letter/s). Other phonemes can be represented by several different graphemes and therefore require more complex decision-making to achieve correct spelling.

Take the phoneme you hear at the start of kite. Students learn that this sound can be represented by the graphemes k, c, q, ck or ch – just to list a few.

Fortunately, for this phoneme there are a number of reliable patterns you can teach students to ensure they can confidently choose the correct grapheme. Let’s look at some of these handy spelling patterns!

Case study: Balarang Public School embarks on their Sound Waves journey

Finding the right spelling resource takes careful consideration. Beyond the pedagogical approach and how it matches the curriculum, you may be wondering, ‘Are the teacher resources clear and easy to use? Does the program contain remediation and extension opportunities that are feasible in whole-class settings? Is there any training available for teachers?’

Spelling specialists, Amanda Zaffonato and Charlotte Crow, from Balarang Public School had all these questions and more, and found that Sound Waves was the right fit for their school. We caught up with Amanda and Charlotte to find out about their experience.

Helping students make the right grapheme choices

Australian English is made up of 43 phonemes (sounds) that make up our spoken language. Each phoneme can be represented by a number of different grapheme choices (some have more than 10 to choose from). While it may seem like the number of grapheme choices is overwhelming, studies indicate that the phoneme-grapheme relationships in the majority of English words are predictable when you take into consideration some key factors that influence spelling1. Let’s look at four main factors that can influence grapheme choice in spelling.

How pronunciation influences segmenting

Some words have more than one widely accepted pronunciation in Standard Australian English. This won’t affect communication but may affect how your students segment words during spelling lessons.

For example, do you say often with /t/ or without? Your answer to that question will determine the number and type of graphemes you end up with when you segment the word.

Variation in pronunciation commonly occurs when either a consonant phoneme or a schwa is dropped from a word, resulting in different – but equally correct – segmented answers. Let’s look at some common examples of alternative pronunciations, how they affect segmenting and how to discuss this topic with your students.

Extension List Word activities for your spelling stars

Do you have students in your class who excel at spelling? You’ve no doubt discovered the Extension List Words available for every Sound Waves unit, but how many different ways do you use them? Here are a few ideas to help your top students take their spelling skills to the next level.