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K-2 Skills Block: Chaining Instructional Practice

This video shows primary students using Chaining, an instructional practice found in the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block. This instruction practice gives students targeted instruction for analyzing and decoding words with particular spelling patterns. One grapheme is changed in each successive word, and students analyze the first word to determine how it has changed as they decode the next word. The teacher gives and students decode the first word. After decoding each of the words in the chain, the teacher has students spell the words from memory, which reinforces letter-sound connections and lets the teacher check for understanding. There are optional extensions. This instructional practice is used in Kindergarten and 1st grade.


- [Class] It’s time to decode words using letter sound connections.

- [Narrator] In Stacy Cicero’s primary classroom, students are engaging in the chaining instructional practice.

- [Class] Watch for change.

- [Narrator] This practice provides targeted instruction for analyzing and decoding words with specific spelling patterns.

- [Students] Pen, pine, spine, shine...

- [Narrator] In the chaining practice, one grapheme, or letter, is changed in each successive word. Students must carefully analyze the first word to determine how it has changed as they decode the next word.

- I’m going to write a word on my white board. P-, I-, N-.

- [Students] Pin.

- How did I know that the ‘i’ said ‘ih’ in pin? Serenity?

- Because the ‘n’ is making the word closed so it’s a closed syllable.

- [Stacy] Absolutely, yeah.

- [Narrator] Stacy’s students have been deeply involved in learning about closed syllables. They understand that a single vowel letter in a closed syllable produces a short sound.

- Watch for a change. Now I want you go ahead and make that change on your board.

- [Narrator] Stacy recently introduced the silent ‘e’ syllable type to her class and this lesson employs the chaining practice to support the students as they analyze its effects.

- How did that ‘e’ change the sound in the word? Jo?

- It made the ‘i’ say its name.

- It made the ‘i’ say its name. That’s right.

- [Narrator] In order for young students to commit new sound spelling patterns to memory, they must engage in regular opportunities for repetition and practice. The intentional sequencing of words in the chaining protocol provides students with this important practice.

- [Stacy] All right. We’re gonna make one more change. Get ready.

- [Student] I was just gonna erase this.

- Okay, go ahead. Okay, so I want you to do that on your board and then I really want you to decode each of the sounds.

- [Narrator] Use nonsense words requires students to analyze the word based only on graphemes and phonemes, rather than based upon memory of a word they may have seen before.

- Eyes on the board. We’re gonna read each of the words that we just worked with.

- [Students] Pin, pine, spine, shine, shone, shope.

- Great.

- [Narrator] When students have completed the decoding of the chained words, Stacy asks the students to spell some of the words.

- Get your markers ready. I’m gonna have you write a word. Spine.

- Spine.

- Now we’re gonna try something just a little bit more challenging. Listen to this word. Sunshine.

- [Students] Sunshine.

- I want you to go ahead and try to write that on your board. Sunshine. Check your word to code each sound to make sure you have all the sounds. Look up here! Sunshine. Where would I divide this? Jo?

- In between sun and shine.

- Good! So I’m just gonna draw a little line down here. How many vowel sounds are here? One. How many vowel sounds are here? One. So every syllable must have how many vowel sounds?

- [Students] One.

- One. It might have two vowels, like a silent ‘e’, right? And an ‘i’, but it has to have one vowel sound.

- [Narrator] The word analysis and practice that chaining provides supports efficient decoding and the development of automaticity with sound spelling patterns.

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EL Education

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