Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sharing an Idea- Teaching About Silent Letters

My 4th grade curriculum map tells me that I must teach about spelling words with silent letters. Yes, we do this all the time in our writing since silent letters are everywhere, but I wanted to do a couple of more direct lessons.  I didn't want to spend a lot of time and I wanted to keep it text-based as much as possible.  I also thought it might be a good way to touch upon some other skills such as predicting and summarizing. 

As we do with many skills and concepts, we started with a mentor text. 

After brainstorming a few words with silent letters, I read the first half of Silent Letters, Loud and Clear. In this book the children in the classroom complain about how difficult spelling can be because of silent letters. So they write an email to the editor of the newspaper to complain.  The silent letters' feelings are hurt and they decide to leave the email before the student presses send. 

I stopped halfway through and to asked the students to make some predictions about what might happen next. They quickly jotted these down on their white boards then discuss their thoughts.  Most of them predicted that the email would not make sense.

The next day we finished the story (it also contains a lot of idioms and other figurative language so we discussed those). 
Then we used the "somebody, wanted, but, so, then" framework for summarizing fiction, again using our whiteboards. 
On the third and final day, the students took the silent letters out of a message I had written to them. They were surprised by how many silent letters there were.   

Lastly, the students had some fun writing short messages, leaving out the silent letters, and showing them to each other. It was fun to watch them try to read each other's writing and laughing about the misspellings. 

We ended with a quick reflection.


  1. I love this lesson! I'm going to send it to our fourth grade teachers! Thanks for sharing, GiGi :)

  2. Such a fun lesson! I love ideas like these that make the children think and write. Thanks for sharing.