Students master the oral segmentation of phonemes in syllables, a critical skill for reading and spelling success. Students learn to segment phonemes and words using a “tapping” system, a kinesthetic-tactile activity that guides students. Learners blend and segment three sounds at first and then incrementally progress to six sounds.
Word study is presented in two categories: phonetically regular words and high frequency words, which may include many phonetically irregular words. The Just Words curriculum provides a strong foundation for further word study.
Phonetically Regular Words: Most words in English are phonetically regular and follow rules of the basic sound system. Students will learn:
- Sound-Symbol Correspondence: Students learn how to blend sounds for reading and segment sounds for spelling. They work with words in both directions. This method reinforces the learned word structures.
- Syllable Structure: Word structure is taught according to the six syllable types in the English language. Sounds are taught only as they relate to the syllable type being studied. The type of syllable tells you how to read the vowel sound.
- Orthography and Morphology: Orthographic rules involving base words and suffixes are taught directly. Common Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes are also directly taught. These are introduced in correspondence to the syllable patterns.
High Frequency Words: Some are phonetically regular, but many are irregular, non-phonetic words that do not follow the “system” of the language. Instruction allows for these words to be recognized and spelled quickly and easily.
Further Study: Upon completion of the Just Words program, students will have mastery of letter-sound relationships, syllable structures, and basic spelling patterns. They will understand the possibilities of word building with prefixes, roots, and suffixes and with the relationships between words.
In each unit, students apply decoding skills to read words in isolation, as well as in phrases, sentences, and short passages. Students learn a strategy to read passages with prosody; that is, phrasing with proper intonation. This guided practice emphasizes fluent reading for meaning, rather than speed. Please note that the Wilson Fluency®/Basic Kit (offered separately as an optional supplement) is designed to provide explicit fluency instruction and reading practice to develop the application of skills with connected text.
Students apply their decoding and spelling skills to various kinds of vocabulary words. These words include general academic and content-specific vocabulary words. If some students have a strong oral language base, they will make mental connections and more easily decode novel words. Other students may not have a well-developed oral English base; in this case, a focus on vocabulary is essential as they develop proficiency in decoding. In Just Words, vocabulary is enhanced primarily through reading, so students become more proficient with decoding. Through this approach, learners are also exposed to more words. Although the Just Words program is not considered a vocabulary curriculum, it teaches students a process for learning the meanings of words. In each unit, there are Demonstration Words, which are presented to reinforce the mastery of the word structure introduced in that unit.
Comprehension, or reading with understanding, is the goal of reading instruction. Just Words emphasizes word recognition, but comprehension is always the goal. Students learn a strategy for reading passages with prosody. This strategy emphasizes the reading of sentences in meaningful phrases. Students learn how to focus on the meaning of the sentences to successfully phrase them. As students read, they are also asked to visualize and replay the story of the text in their heads. This leads learners to retell the passage aloud, using visualization as a guide. The 45-minute Just Words lesson is designed to supplement a comprehensive English Language Arts curriculum with comprehension strategies being a major part of the curriculum.