In this video, Sam Modest, a Grade 2 teacher at The Nueva School walks us through the on-going iterations of how he and his co-teacher Erin Metcalf are tracing and organizing the trail of orthographic learning going on in this classroom. (I am the "visiting scholar" supporing SWI at Nueva for the 201-2016 school year.) Notice how these teachers have instituted (and are continuing to revise) structures for collecting students’ questions about words and then how those questions are used as a context for guiding inquiry-led investigations. 

For some time Sam and Erin had made a conscious decision to bring a greater focus and precision to their inquiry of orthographic phonology. But guided by their learning about English orthography over the last few years, they understood that effective phonological instruction had to occur with explicit attention to morphological and etymological constraints. 

It was a students interest in the word <hypnosis> provided the launching pad for this investigation. They use the chart of 4 questions to use when investigating an interesting word. Since they are truly committed to the process of “inquiry learning” they jump into this investigation of the structure of <hypnosis> without knowing how to resolve the analysis themselves. Instead they let themselves take the investigation as far as they can, and then draw on various resources -- Etymonline, Gina Cooke’s (LEX) Matrix Study Sheets and LEX Grapheme Cards and other colleagues to help them come to a better understanding. We also see how Lyn Anderson’s (Beyond the Word) recent visit inspired ideas for organizing the phonological aspect of this investigation. 

Notice, by the end of the video, they still have unresolved questions -- and that this is totally appropriate! 

Below I will paste some images and resources that are referenced in the video to facilitate your ability to take advantage of and build on this exceptional work of Sam and Erin. 

Download the "4 Questions for Investigating a Spelling" HERE


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Here are images of the charts addressed in the video...

1) The spelling, meaning, structure and relatives of <hypnosis>

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2) Chart investigating the phonemes that the <y> grapheme can represent.


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NOTE: If you look closely, you will notice that compared to the chart in film, the image of the chart above has been edited to to show the IPA symbol /j/ for the phoneme representing the grapheme <y> in <you>. After posting, I noticed that on Sam's chart they used the IPA symbols /juː/ which actually represents the pronunciation not of <y> but of the whole word <you>. Having noticed the error, I wanted to make sure that the chart that readers are most likely to inspect is accurate.

As ever, an error like this is an opportunity for learning. When Sam and Erin share their initial error and this revision, they and their students gain the opportunity for a deeper understanding of how the IPA symbols work. The <y> in <you> represents a phoneme that is comprised of only one "phone". Many phonemes are comprised of more than one phone. For example what is often referred to as the "long i" is actually a phoneme comprised of two phones. Here is the IPA representation of that phoneme /aɪ/.  Note how the IPA representation  uses one symbol for each phone ina phoneme.  The second grapheme in <you> is the vowel digraph <ou> which represents the phoneme /uː/ in this word. Teachers can sometimes be worried about diving into using IPA symbols for fear of making a mistake. But as we teachers are forever saying to kids -- if we are not will ing to make "mistakes" we will never learn. I'm quite confident that for Sam, Erin and their grade 2 students sharing this initial error and how to understand it will end up providing one of the richest learning opportunities in terms of ortphgraphic phonology in this already rich lesson!

3) Graphemes for the "long e" phoneme

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4) Meaning, Structure, Relatives, Phonology of <moment>

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5) The graphemes and phonemes of <moment>

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