Ryan doesn't like the short-vowel /e/ sound or other short- vowel sounds for that matter. As a matter of fact, short-vowel sounds, especially /e/can remain forever "silent" as far as he's concerned. Ryan can read numerous sight words and decode some unfamiliar multi-syllable words, but when it comes to distinguishing the short- vowel sounds in words such as sit, set, sat; big, beg, bug; or pit, pet, pat, he gets stumped, frustrated, and proclaims that "It is time to take a nap!"
Ryan is a classified student, but he is not alone in the struggle in distinguishing short -vowel sounds in one-syllable words. It is not uncommon. Oftentimes students present with the ability to read grade -level text aloud, but either skip or mispronounce words such as pen, pan, pin; fin, fan, fun; bit, but, bat; bell, ball, bill, etc. These students often also offer substitutions (words that are substituted for the correct word), and make omissions (words skipped or not read), as they read independently or aloud.
The great thing about System 44 is that teachers can directly tailor instruction to meet specific individual students' needs and the plan for this individualized instruction is available at an educator's fingertips!
My goal for Ryan was for him to achieve both accuracy and fluency in decoding one-syllable words with short- vowel sounds. Without being timed and with some prompting, Ryan was able to correctly pronounce words with short- vowel sounds. My goal was for him to automatically do this, without thinking twice. After all, there is quite a difference between the words big and beg, and incorrectly reading these words can greatly interfere with comprehension. Sometimes, our students' low comprehension scores reflect errors in decoding simple words. For example, the sentence "I want to bag my groceries" can be misread as "I want to beg for my groceries." Once a student has made this error, their comprehension of the sentences that follow often suffers.
In order to get Ryan to master short-vowel sounds, System 44 resources were available at HMH Teacher Central to help him get there.
The System 44 Resources Jackpot!
Log into HMH Teacher Central
Click System 44 Next Generation - Resources for Differentiated Instruction
Type short \e\ in "View All Resources"
Click Phonics and Word Study Lessons and then go to Series 3 Lesson 20: short /e/
Open it and Download the Zip Bundle which contains most of the resources for short /e/, including lesson plans and answer keys
Log into HMH Teacher Central
Go to Resources to Support Small-Group Differentiation
1) Click Decodable Digest and then Lesson 20: Short /e/
2) Click Flip Chart and go to Lesson 20: Short /e/ (I project this flip chart page onto the Smartboard but also use the hard copy of the flip chart when available)
3) Click Success Passages and print or project "Run, Jesse, Run" (Software Connection 3.2) and review with the student
4) Click 44 Practice Pages to be directed to pages that reinforce the learning of the Short /e/ sound in words
In addition to using these online resources, there are also Word Building Kits which you can use to design practice activities for the students to engage in. In the photo below, Ryan needs to place the correct short-vowel in between the initial and final letter of words to spell the word that is orally given to him. Then, Ryan gets to manipulate the vowels to create words of his own. The Word Building Kit is available online in the Interactive Teaching System, but students can benefit from a more kinesthetic experience in lessons that they struggle with.
So how did the journey end?
Ryan still doesn't particularly care for short- vowel sounds in one-syllable words, but he is acquiring the skills needed to read these words. His frustration has decreased, and when stumped on a word, he now smiles (with a slight grimace) and says "short /e/ again!", instead of "I want to take a nap!"
With continued systematic instruction and practice, Ryan will someday confidently read words with short-vowel sounds and say "Yes! I've got this!" instead of "It's time to take a nap."