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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

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!


  1. I love this anchor chart! My students are having such a hard time with syllables! I'm your newest follower. Please stop by my blog and enter my giveaway if you'd like!

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  2. I love this..I plan to have my students do this in their journals this year. What a grade idea to have the foldable to use as a guide and for review.

  3. I am a certified Orton-Gillingham provider with 20 years of experience in special education. Your chart is good start but if you are working with severely dyslexia or learning disabled children, I suggest finding a training program, such as IMSE. They provide a multi-modality approach to encoding and decoding. Children struggling to read in 3rd and 4th grade generally struggle with reading for the rest of their lives without explicit, strategic and systematic teaching. The reading gap becomes difficult to close as struggling readers attempt to memorize.

    1. Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for your feedback. I am also a certified Orton-Gillingham provider with formal IMSE training. This is just one visual that we use to put some of our teaching practices down onto paper. It helps some kids and some it doesn't. :)


  4. Hi. I wanted to drop you a quick note to express my thanks. I've been following your blog for a month or so and have picked up a ton of good information as well as enjoyed the way you've structured your site. I am attempting to run my own blog but I think its too general and I want to focus more on smaller topics. Being all things to all people is not all that its cracked up to be.

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  5. Thank you! I'll try this tomorrow!

  6. This is a wonderfully colorful way to show the segmentation! And the bridge is clever! Thank you! My daughter is a tactile learner so we may also add a "building" option with legos or something for fun.

  7. Oh.My.Day. Thank you for sharing this in-depth explanation. I am going to use this with my second graders. We use Orton, so I know they'll get it! May God bless you 100-fold for sharing this. Thank you, thank you, thank you!