Services- Adaptation Instructions

Services- Adaptation Instructions

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Adaptation Instructions*

Suggestions For Using The Phonograms – 47 Rules Of Spelling,
Syllabication, And Plurals In Any Spelling, Decoding, Or Reading Exercise

*As a supplement for non-phonics based language arts programs for the Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road To Reading and Thinking By: Myrna T. McCulloch

*To supplement non-phonics based language arts programs with the Riggs Institute’s Writing and Spelling Road To Reading and Thinking. [This adaption is the only adaption that is published by the Riggs Institute, this adaption stays true to our materials and methodologies]

For Free Distribution with Purchase of Riggs Institute’s Supplementary Phonics, Spelling, Handwriting Kit (Required items listed below)

Handwriting Kit [$70.00]: Adaption Instructions, Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Revised “Orton” Phonogram Cards, Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Phonogram Sound CD & the Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Student/Teacher Practice Audio CD with black-line master [Homeschool use add a half ream of lined paper $8.00 add’l]

Glossary As Used In This Method Of Instruction:

Phonogram – Is a combination of phoneme and grapheme. When these phonograms are spoken, they are phonemes; when they are written, they are graphemes.
Phoneme (sound/s) – An elementary sound of English speech.
“Elementary” Sound – One which cannot be further divided (these are never blends such as str, bl, or nd which simply combine two or more elementary sounds).
Grapheme (letter/s) – A written symbol (letter or letters) which represents a phoneme on paper, i.e., the phoneme /oo/ is commonly written with food, do, dew, due, fruit, through, you, shoe, neutral, two, lieu

Applications for use: After your students have learned about one-half of the phonograms (phoneme/grapheme correspondences) along with letter formation skills (including margins and spacing) and the concurrent cognitive auditory, verbal, visual, and motor sub-skills, you may begin to teach them to apply the phonograms in words found in any other spelling, reading, or writing exercises. The rules of spelling, syllabication, and plurals may be applied to any spelling memorization word list, any decoding (reading), any vocabulary development exercises found in workbooks, or any other such lessons in any materials you might be using in any subject. If there is not enough language arts time scheduled in your school, consider applying this same practice to science, math, and social studies vocabulary. The point is to begin using the phonics you are teaching from this supplementary kit.

Our 47 rules of spelling, plurals, syllabication (breaking words into syllables), use of apostrophes and capitalization are printed in the student/teacher practice audio CD booklet and they are voiced on the phonogram sound CD. Note: Be sure to remove the cover of this CD’s case and study it thoroughly on both sides. These illustrated rules [with sample words in brackets] are taught through application, not rote, and can be used and applied as appropriate, for example:

  1. The /or/ phonogram in the word, works is pronounced with the “er” sound because Rule 18 says, “o-r may say ‘er’ when w comes before the o-r.”
  2. The /ei/ in “veil” is pronounced with a long “a” sound “ā” though spelled with the vowel digraph /ei/, using the first sound “ā” as it has been taught with the phonograms. Rule 19 applies.
  3. When adding a vowel suffix, silent final e words are written without the e (time, timing, or timed). Use Rule 25.

Our full curriculum uses a composition notebook and/or wall charts for K – 1 to record and illustrate the use of many of the various spelling, plural, capitalization, and syllabication rules. This is a great time saver and tends to make your students independent learners. The information recorded can be used in “across the curriculum” assignments, and for seat and homework assignments. A general suggestion for building charts is to:

  • Record the rule or concept
  • Illustrate concept with some examples
  • Add to them through the year
  • Use them for checking accuracy in reading and writing assignments
  • For review, and homework aids.

Vowels are taught in the order of the frequency of their use in words as shown in the sample words. The third sound of i and the fourth sounds of a, o and u are needed early for both spelling and reading of simple words. Note: y takes the place of i for spelling and is used both as a vowel and a consonant

To illustrate the use of the multiple sounds of vowels as they are taught in this program, here is an example:

First Sound
(closed syllables)
Second Sound
(open syllables)
Third Sound Fourth Sound
a at at want talk
e end me
i it fi nal ra di o
y dot go do cost
o dot go do cost
u up mu sic tru ly put

After learning the first 55 phonograms and letter formation, spelling can be efficiently taught using direct, Socratic and multi-sensory instruction. We begin the spelling process by again using dictation to teach the words. The first word is me. It is used in a sentence and then each sound is asked for, i.e. “What is the first sound you hear when I say, me?” The students, in unison, answer ‘m’ (the sound) and are requested to write m (the symbol) on their paper. Accurate spacing, margins, etc., are again stressed, but this is now easier because of the previous practice when the phonograms were taught. Instruction continues, “What is the next sound when I say, me?” Again, they answer in unison, ‘ē’ and are then asked, “Which ē will you use?” [At this point, they have already been taught three ways to spell the sound ‘e’] They decide it is ‘ĕ’,’ē’ – meaning a single e phonogram – and write that next to their ‘m.’ The students then, in unison, dictate back to the teacher who writes the word on the board (or overhead), going through the same questioning process, and the students compare their me to the teacher’s. Give them a moment to decide if their word looks like your word; ask if anyone needs help to correct theirs, then teach them to apply Rule 13 (Vowels a – e – o – u usually say ‘ā” – ‘ē’ – ‘ō’ – ‘ū’ at the end of a syllable) by saying it and having them repeat it a few times until they have it. See a complete paraphrased dictation script for teaching spelling on page 7 of this document.

You have just taught them how to think and the process they must use when they are writing a word in a creative composition, not just the weekly spelling test which they have memorized. Our full program has children underline vowels which say their names or long sounds in words (see diacritical marking procedures page 4). These simplified mnemonic memory devices help students to establish long term memory just as the charts do.

Each phonogram stands for one sound in a given word. In the word church, for example, there are only three sounds (ch ur ch) but six letters. You see what would happen if the student did not know the sounds for these multiple-letter phonograms. The phonogram ch has two other common sounds in other words such as chef and echo as they are taught in the explicit phonics exercises with the cards. On the other hand, /ur/ sounded “er” has five other commonly used spelling patterns such as /er/, /ir/, /ear/, and /or/ part of the time when it follows a “w”. Note: Sounds are not always “voiced”, e.g. p, t, sh, f, etc. are merely emissions of air; the vocal cords are not involved.

Listening is the first skill of this method.  It is critical for learning how to “map” the 45 elementary sounds of English speech (those which cannot be further divided) to their printed spelling patterns. It is true that spelling is considered to be more difficult than reading, but it is also much more easily
organized because the teacher and student deal with one sound and one or more letter/s at a time rather than addressing the whole word as a unit. The rationale of teaching correct spelling through Socratic dictation [We ask, “What is the sound you hear in____?] must come from the child’s knowledge base – the letters that match the sound/s as taught in the phonogram drill, from their own speech, and the application of the 47 rules and marking system (see next page). Students quickly learn to separate the sounds of speech to spell words using the concurrent graphemes (letters or letter combinations) they’ve been taught. Conversely, applying phonics first to reading (decoding) presents the problem so familiar to teachers and parents – which part of the word is causing the problem? Good spellers are almost always good readers while the reverse is not true much of the time. At present, children who read often cannot spell, write, and think equally well. Accurate spelling and writing lead directly to fluent reading – a prerequisite for comprehension – the goal of reading. The mind does not FREE itself for comprehension until the words are read with fluency.
Spelling words are always used in complete sentences for vocabulary development, oral comprehension, usage and to allow the teacher to “model” excellent speech in grammatically correct sentences. Have the students repeat this performance as volunteers in the beginning instruction. In three or four weeks after beginning spelling, even beginners can be writing simple sentences such as “I can do it.” They have these words, (pronunciation and comprehension) in their spoken vocabularies upon entering school. You have taught them the symbols to go with the individual phonemes in each word through your spelling dictation, the letter and word spacing, margins, letter formation, etc. If they can say it, they can learn to write it accurately, and when they do, they have their own individually “decodable’ text for their very first reading assignments. They must write their own sentences because only then can they, their teachers and parents be assured that they will be successful in their first attempt at reading — an accomplishment critical to their self-esteem.

Mnemonic Marking System for use with our spelling and vocabulary lists
Note: We use this simple mnemonic marking system instead of the normal diacritical marks from a dictionary (many of
which do not agree with each other) for primary-level children. We’ve found it simpler and more effective.

The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking Spelling/Pronunciation “Diacritical” Marking System

1. Vowels are underlined when they say their names in a given word (be long, name, old). Associated letters in silent final e words are also underlined once (see 3 below).

2. Phonograms of two or more letters are underlined to show that the letters in these combinations are not pronounced separately, but form “one sound” in each word (fault, eight, sight, nation, badge, pack, echo). The multiple letters in consonant “blends” or clusters are not underlined since they each retain their own sound value even though they are ‘blended’ to, seemingly, form a single sound (strike, melt, proud). This ensures that oral phonemic awareness is not destroyed. 

3. All silent letters (limb, naughty, raspberry), those which use a different sound from those taught in the 71 phonograms as: consonants (sure), consonant digraphs (question), vowel-consonant digraphs (clothes) and double consonants that drop in pronunciation (yel low) are double underlined. This includes silent final e words (t i m e, ha v e, res cu e, ch an c e, ch a r g e, l i t t l e, are). See Rule 20.

4. If a phonogram has more than one sound, small numbers are placed above it to indicate its sound in the order in which it has been taught in the phonograms.
do – low – you – cough – pie – has  

  • It is not the first sound as taught with the phonograms. First sounds are understood so are not marked (am, not, bet)
  • It is not an underlined vowel which says its name (see 1. in previous column) following Rules 13, 14, and 15, and 
  • A spelling rule does not first explain its use. Spelling rules supersede these marking rules (age, chance – see spelling Rules 2, 3, and 20). 

5. Some words are bracketed (in a vertical list) to show similarity or peculiarity in spelling or meaning, [won, one, lone, alone, once, only, none]. These are paronyms.

6. A “thinking cap” caret  ̂ is put over vowels (thê, â lone) and vowel digraphs (cer t a ̂ i n) when they are pronounced differently than they are spelled. 

Students can practice the application of the explicit phonics they’ve learned by using the marking system above; a classroom wall chart will help to make them understand and give them a visible example of these applications which enables them to find their own answers. It seems like something of a puzzle, so they enjoy it. Have them begin by underlining all of the 2-, 3-, and 4-letter phonograms in their reading, comprehension, composition, and vocabulary exercises. Then examine words to discover the different sounds of the vowels, vowel, and consonant digraphs (ea, ch, ng, ei/ey, etc.) and diphthongs (ou/ow and oi/oy). This improves fluency by teaching students to “see” words in sound bytes rather than in individual letters of the alphabet which have been identified, all too often, by the name of the letter, which has no relationship to speech sounds except for the vowels about
one-third of the time. We sound, ‘k’ ‘ă’ ‘t’ for ‘cat’ – not ‘see-a-tee.’ The consonants’ names are never heard in English speech. Spelling requires encoding of speech sounds unless a student is a visually gifted individual who can simply record the information once they have “seen” it. It is well established that about two-thirds of the population are visual learners, but only 10-15% are visually gifted – those who just recall everything they’ve seen. Those who are not visual learners (the other one-third) plus those who are not visually gifted find a logical spelling system, with complete phonics, the rules, and a
memory aid system to be “learner friendly” PLUS less frustrating than visually oriented methods of teaching – like worksheets.

We emphasize the writing and spelling applications because there are but two basic forms of communicating our thoughts in any language – speaking and writing. But, writing is the only reliable form of world-wide communication. In 1860, there were but 42 elementary sounds in English, with which we could pronounce all English words; in 2004, there are said to be more than 250 nuances of sounds and as many diacritical markings in all the dialects of English spoken worldwide. By comparison, correct spellings, set by the 1860’s Webster-Oxford collaboration to standardize them for the world, are still relatively stable. We wonder why the present fixation on the least reliable part of the phonetic equation (the phoneme) rather than the letter or letter combinations (the graphemes) of the English spelling system.

We have found the following order of instruction to be the fastest and most beneficial for skill building for the majority of children:


1. Listening
2. Oral phonemic awareness
3. Explicit Phonics (encode phonemes/graphemes)
4. Letter formation and Oral Comprehension
5. Recoding – reading phonemes from graphemes
6. Spelling Dictation (using explicit phonetics, rules of orthography, syllabication and plurals, and a mnemonic marking system
7. Applying phoneme/graphemes through Socratic, dictated instruction8. Reading words, in isolation
9. Oral syntax (listening to the modeling of oral sentences using specific spelling words
10. Composition or written syntax – writing different kinds of sentences using specific words (See sample chart below*)
11. Reading complete decodable text sentences – stressing fluency and comprehension
12. Vocabulary Exercises – stressing roots and affixes, synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, homophones, homographs (See sample chart below **)
13. Syntax/Grammar – formalizing begins with graphic analyses of simple sentences

Birds fly. Fish swim. Cats sleep.

14. Composition, organizing
15. Rules of Syntax – by application in sentence patterns

The charts below are further examples. Using the wall charts (K-1) or notebooks (2+) to save student/teacher time and teach analytical thinking, creates an atmosphere for independent learning, affords the means of meaningful homework assignments before children are old enough to use other
reference materials successfully. Materials for spelling, grammar, syntax, composition, and vocabulary charts can easily come from worksheets, textbooks, assessment instruments, etc. Take the state standards and turn the concepts into teaching charts. It is a simple and effective way to enhance learning and to make sure everything is presented, practiced, and mastered.

*Sentence Chart ** Homonym Homograph Homophone
Declarative Makes a statement I like recess. Same Spelling Usually Yes No
Interrogative Asks a question What can you do? Sounds the same Yes No Yes
Imperative States a command [You] Shut the door. Same Meaning No No No
Exclamatory Expresses strong feeling Oh! How awful! May/may








A sentence is a group of words that expresses one complete thought. Note: Children love to bring words for this chart; they enjoy figuring out which words go where; this reinforces correct spelling for composition and reading in addition to building vocabulary.  

Other teaching tips:
• Use the syllabication and plural rules as they come up in any subject students are studying but particularly in spelling words
• Many students are unnecessarily fearful of “long words” simply because they do not understand that long words are made of short syllables, and even shorter graphemes or spelling patterns.
• Tell young children that “a syllable happens every time they open and close or change their mouth positions” while saying a word. Have them hold a hand under their chin to make this more emphatic
• A good dictionary, preferable an etymological one, should be used for accuracy and for the vocabulary building it affords.

Children can often relate to their body parts better than to spoken directions. For instance, as soon as they learn capital letter formation, but still cannot consistently tell left from right, have them hold up their left hand, index finger pointing straight up with the thumb extended horizontally. The
left hand has formed the shape of the capital L which the right hand can never do. Children who have perceptual and directionality problems, reverse many of their letters, etc. get them over it rapidly by learning to form the letters according to the instructions on the backs of the phonogram cards. They can learn to go up to “their circle hand” when they may not be able to tell up from down otherwise.


The manner in which spelling words are dictated, marked, rules applied, and tested it critical to this
method and the success you will have. Here is a “paraphrased” recap of the process which is
accomplished through multi-sensory, direct, and Socratic instruction – TEACHER INITIATED:

1. In the normal rhythm of speech, pronounce the words to be dictated. Use it in a sentence. For the first, one-syllable words, ask, “What is the first sound you hear in______?” (Name the word)
2. The words are used in sentences for vocabulary, comprehension, and “modeling” of correct sentence structure (syntax). These sentences can also convey meaningful facts, reiterate other course content, safety tips, attitudes, and appropriate behaviors.
3. After the first two-syllable word, always ask, “How many syllables?” if there is more than one, “What is the first syllable?” [Student answer together.] “What is the first sound in ____? Write that on your paper.” “And the next, etc.?” [Answer] “Which phonogram will you use_____?” (only if there is
more than one choice). “What is the next syllable?” “The next?”
4. Finish dictating the word using Socratic questions to… 1) solicit group response and 2) oral and written action. Students now have it in their notebooks (do not do markings or rules at this point) and are prepared to dictate it back to the teacher. Students recode or “read” what they have written,
sound-by-sound, back to the teacher who puts it on the overhead or board.
5. Students recode: “Now, you tell me what to write, and I will put it on the board.” “What is the word?” “How many syllables?” “What is the first sound of the first syllable? The second, etc.? Which phonogram (if there is more than one choice) did you use?” [Students answer together – see 4 above] Finish the word, then, for next step say…
6. “If your word looks like mine, raise your hand.” [Most children raise hands] “If your word does not look like mine, raise your hand, and I will help you fix it.” (This is for quality control)
7. “Now, what do we do with this word? (Do not call on individual students; always ask for group response to keep all children attentive and expected to answer.) Are there any markings to help us recall the spellings? Are there any spelling, plural, or syllabication rules which apply? If so, what are they?” (If it is new, this is your teaching time. At first lead recitation of the rules, then with students until they can do it on their own.
8. [For example, students answer] “Underline ‘ow’ in this word (now) because ‘it is a 2-letter phonogram that stands for one sound in this word.” OR “Underline y saying ī; because Rule 16 says, ‘Vowel y, not i is used at the end of English words.” (Again, see 47 rules in print in the back of the black-line master booklet with the student/teacher practice audio CD.)
9. Finally, sound and “read” the six daily words until there is fluency for all students in your class. VARIATIONS: If the word is one in which spelling patterns do not match normal pronunciation (schwa, “think to spell”, silent letter words) say, “Here, we have a “schwa” word, a ‘think to spell’ word,
a silent letter word, etc. To spell this word, we must think, write, and spell …etc.” Our teaching manuals have these scripts. See full online catalog.

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