Using Known Patterns to Write Unfamiliar Words

Using Known Patterns to Write Unfamiliar Words
Connie Campbell Dierking
Excerpted, with permission from

Teaching Early Writing and Reading Cover.jpgMake the most of the writing/reading connection by thinking about some basic questions when you’re crafting your literacy instruction in grades K-2:

1. How can I connect the conversations in reading and writing    workshop?
2. What can I learn about the readers in my classroom through their    writing?
3. What can my students learn about reading through writing?
4. How can I teach young writers to support their readers?
5. How can I teach readers how to use a writer’s supports intentionally?

Try this print awareness mini-lesson to connect writing and reading in your classroom.

Using Known Patterns to Write Unfamiliar Words

Reading Connection: Students who are ready to use analogies to decode and encode unfamiliar words will find strength in this strategy with both reading and writing. Noting similarities and differences between words will allow students to increase their known word bank by blending previously learned word parts. Paying attention to spelling patterns is necessary for students to store words in memory for use in reading and writing.

• word wall
• chart paper
• white boards for each student (optional)

Prep Step: Identify words from the word wall that you will ask students to spell.

Remind students of previously learned words that are now displayed on the word wall. Re-read several of them together and reinforce how smart it is to know so many words. Discuss how there are thousands and thousands of words in the English language and that there is no way that they could possibly know how to read or spell of them. But there is a way to be able to read and write more words than are on the wall.
Today I want to teach you how to use the patterns in words you know to write unfamiliar words.

Write a word from the word wall on the board or a sheet of chart paper. Read the word and underline the spelling pattern. Read the spelling pattern by blending the sounds together. Then say, “If I can spell ________, then I can spell _________. If I can read _________, then I can read ______________” For example, if the word on the wall was back, you would say, “If I can spell back, then I can spell sack. If I can read back, then I can read sack.” Continue writing words that have the same spelling pattern, modeling for students how you use the same spelling pattern but change the beginning sound. Re-read the list of words that you made using the underlined spelling pattern.

Active Engagement
On a white board, have each student write an identified word off the word wall and underline the spelling pattern. Practice writing new words by adding new onsets to the familiar spelling pattern. Then choral read the words and then have students read their list to a partner.

Link to Future Work
Remind students that writers and readers always use the words they know to help them read and write.

Follow Up
This activity could be used to practice inflected endings or adding both onset and rime. It might sound like, “If I can spell want, then I can spell wants.” Or “If I can spell car and I can spell lap, then I can spell cap.”