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Beginning Reading Design: Uhhh, I'm Confused!

Uhhh, I’m confused!

Beginning Reading

Jacquelyn Johnson

 Rationale: This lesson teaches children the short vowel correspondence u= /u/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the letter u. They will learn a meaningful representation by saying “Uhhh, I confused.” to emphasize the /u/ sound, they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence u=/u/.


§  Picture of a caveman scratching his head, saying “/u/”

§  Cover-up critter

§  Whiteboard for modeling and individual use

§  Letter tiles for each child

§  Letterbox sets for each child

§  Magnetic letters for teacher: r, u, n, l, m, p, h, i, a

§  List of spelling words on poster to read: hit, trunk, put, sat, tub, shut, trush

§  Decodable text: Bud the Sub (1990)

§  Assessment worksheet

1. Say: “To become a great reader, we must learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. Who in here likes codes that help us figure out how to do different things? I know I do! Today we are going to learn about short U. When I say /u/ I think of being confused and scratching my head because I am not sure of an answer. When that happens we say “/u/” but we drag out the sound because we are confused and do not understand (pronounced like “uhhhh”).” I will show the picture of a caveman scratching his head and ask the students to say the sound /u/.”

2. Say: “Before we learn about the spelling of /u/, we need to listen and hear the sounds /u/ in words. When we say /u/ our mouths are open, our tongues sits at the bottom of our mouths, and we are making the sound from the back of our throats  [Make a vocal gesture for /u/.] I’ll show you first: run. I heard /u/ sounding confused and I felt my mouth open and my tongue flatten on the bottom of my mouth. There is a short u in run. Let’s see if we hear short u in mute. Uh oh, I didn’t hear the confused sound like a caveman in mute, did you? If you hear /u/ in these next few words I’m going to read aloud, I want you to scratch your head pretending you are confused like the caveman. Do you hear /u/ in cup or hat? sit or gum? punk or pack? slump or hop? trunk or plan?

3. “Now how about we start using the code to learn to read. Let’s learn to spell words that have the confused /u/ sound that we are learning about today! What if I want to spell the word tug? First, I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word tug so I stretch it out and count: /t/u/g/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that confused sound of /u/ just before the /g/ so I am going to put a in the 2nd box. The word starts with /t/, so I need to place a t in the first box right in front of the u. [Point to letters in boxes when stretching out the word]. Now, let’s read this word together. /t/u/g/, tug.

4. Say: “Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out with two boxes. The balloon flew up into the sky; up. What should go in the first box? What goes in the second box? I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound that goes in the first box and then listen for the/u/. I tuck my legs under the table when I sit. [Allow children to spell word and check so see if they put the digraph ck in the same box. Model on board if necessary. Have students spell trunk, put, hunt, tub, shut]

5. Say: “Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled, but first I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster board with lump on the top and model reading the word.] This is how I would know how to read the word without the letterboxes. I start by covering up every letter except the /u/ in the middle. We learned today that /u/ makes the confused caveman sound and it makes me want to scratch my head. Everyone act confused like a caveman with me, Uhhhh, I’m confused! Next, I know that the word starts with the letter l which makes the /l/ sound. After the /u/ sound, I see the letter m which I know makes the /m/ sound so now I have /l/u/m. Finally, I add the last sound, /p/, that is at the very end of the word. So now I have /l/-/u/-/m/-/p/.” [Show words hit, trunk, put, sat, tub, shut, trush (psuedoword) on poster board. Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

6. Say: “Since everyone has done such an excellent job at reading words with our new spelling /u/: u.  Now we are going to read a book called Bud the Sub. Bud is a submarine and loves to travel in the water. Gus, his boss, takes care of him and takes in places by moving his knobs to help him go underneath the water. One day, a tugboat is hit by big glacier, and Gus runs Bud to go save the people on it. Do Bud and Gus save the people on the tugboat? Let’s read and find out!” [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads Bud the Sub aloud together, and stops between page turns to discuss the plot.]


Say: “On this worksheet, there are columns of words that you will read aloud that have the /u/ sound that we learned today. Then, I want you to read the story. As you read, circle the words duck, pup, bus, fun, bump. After you have circled all of those words in the story, answer the three questions on the bottom of the worksheet. Make sure to double check to make sure you are reading each word correctly.”[Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]



 Sarah Esser: Uhh, I Don't Know!, http://www.auburn.edu/~sje0003/esserbr.htm

 Assessment worksheet:http://www.justmommies.com/articles/easyreading-short-u.pdf

 Bud the Sub, 1990. Phonics Readers, Educational Insight

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