Syllable Division

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Unlocking Multisyllabic Words: The Power of Syllable Division in Reading Instruction

As elementary school teachers, one of our primary goals is to equip our students with the essential skills they need to become proficient readers. For struggling readers, decoding multisyllabic words can be a daunting task, hindering their ability to comprehend text effectively. However, there is a powerful tool that can significantly aid them in this process: explicitly teaching the power of syllable division. By imparting the knowledge of syllable division rules, we can empower our students to unlock written words, enhancing their reading comprehension and overall literacy. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of teaching syllable division and delve into the steps of dividing syllables with the patterns VCCV, VCCCV, and VCV.

Why Teach Syllable Division?

Syllable division is a crucial component of reading instruction, especially for struggling readers. When students encounter multisyllabic words, they often struggle to break them down into manageable parts, leading to mispronunciations and comprehension difficulties. Understanding syllable division empowers students to segment these complex words into smaller units, making them more approachable and easier to decode. This, in turn, allows students to comprehend the words on the page and make sense of the text as a whole.

Moreover, knowing syllable division rules aids not only in word reading but also in spelling. When students can confidently divide words into syllables, they can more accurately spell them, reinforcing the connection between reading and writing.

Syllable Division Patterns

1. VC’CV Pattern: The “Rabbit” Rule

The VC’CV pattern refers to words with two consonants separating two vowels. In this pattern, the first vowel is short, and the division occurs between the two consonants. Here’s a step-by-step guide on dividing words with the VCCV pattern:

Example: “rabbit”

Step 1: Identify the two vowels and the consonants in between them. In “rabbit,” the vowels are ‘a’ and ‘i,’ and the consonants in between the two vowels are ‘b’ and ‘b.’

Step 2: Divide the syllables between the two consonants: “rab-bit.”

Step 3: Since the first syllable results in a CVC syllable (a closed syllable), the vowel sound is short.

2. VCCCV Pattern: The “Monster” Rule

The VCCCV pattern involves three consonants separating two vowels. This pattern can be a bit more challenging, but following these steps will make it simpler:

Example: “monster”

Step 1: Identify the two vowels and consonants in between them. In “monster,” the vowels are ‘o’ and ‘e,’ and the consonants in between are ‘n,’ ‘s,’ and ‘t.’

Step 2: Keep the expected consonant blends together. Divide between the single consonant and the set of consonant blends by swooping up underneath each syllable.

Step 3: Label the vowels (if needed) as either short, long, or other and read the word: “mon-ster.”

3. V’CV Pattern: The “Tiger” Rule

The VCV pattern consists of a single consonant sandwiched between two vowels. Here’s how to divide words with this pattern:

Example: “tiger”

Step 1: Identify the two vowels and consonant in between. In “tiger,” the vowels are ‘i’ and ‘e,’ and the consonant is ‘g.’

Step 2: First try to divide between the first vowel and consonant by swooping up underneath each syllable.

Step 3: Read the word with a long vowel sound in the first syllable. “ti-ger.” If this is a recognizable word, read the word again and move on.

4. VC’V Pattern: The “Camel” Rule

Step 1: If the “Tiger” VCV syllable division rule did not result in a recognizable word, try dividing AFTER the consonant (VC’V)

Example: “cam-el”

Step 2: Label the first syllable as short (a closed syllable) and read the word again. “cam-el”

So, what is next?

After teaching these initial syllable division patterns, you can also teach the -cle pattern (the “Turtle” rule) and the VV pattern (the “Lion” pattern). Teaching syllable division is a powerful strategy that can significantly improve the reading and spelling abilities of struggling readers. By breaking down multisyllabic words into manageable parts, students gain the confidence to tackle complex vocabulary, leading to better comprehension and overall literacy.

Once students master these syllable division rules, they will better be able to transition to breaking down multi-syllabic words at the morphological level with prefixes and suffixes. But until then, let us incorporate this valuable skill into our reading instruction, empowering our students to unlock the world of written words and become confident, capable readers.

Remember, every step we take in teaching syllable division brings our students one step closer to unlocking the wonders of reading.

Syllable Division and Syllable Combining Activities and steps for instruction by Orton Gillingham Mama
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