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Copy and Memorize


Decodable books and stories use words based on syllable patterns that the student has been strategically taught, but they typically also contain some phonetically irregular words that cannot be decoded. These words only make up about 5-10% of the English language, but they occur frequently in books and in spoken language. Their use should be limited ideally to 5% of a text or less in decodable books. We call these words Learned Words, though other programs may use different terminology. They need to be pretaught before reading a decodable book using the steps below. In addition, if a text contains words that are regular but based on patterns that have not yet been introduced, they should be taught as learned words for the text to be considered decodable.

  1. Say – Say the word out loud and have the student repeat it.
  2. Copy – Have students copy the word, naming each letter as they write it. End with saying the whole word out loud again. Start with near-point copying with the word next to where the student is writing and evolve to far-point copying with the word on a whiteboard five or more feet away. They may also start with tracing the word that someone else has written and then making a copy next to it.
  3. Check – Instruct the student to check to make sure they have copied the word correctly. If not, repeat steps one and two.
  4. Study – Look at the parts of the word and determine what sounds are spelled in an unexpected way.
  5. Copy – Copy the word again. Start with saying the word out loud. Copy it naming each letter. Say the word again.
  6. Memorize – Cover the word and write it from memory. Tell students to name each letter as they write it and end by saying the whole word out loud again.
  7. Check – Uncover the word and check for accuracy. If needed, repeat the steps.