Purpose: This method starts with a theme or context (the “whole”), pulls out specific parts to analyze, then goes back to a text to practice the “part” in context. It can help students work on spelling and pronunciation skills.

Preparation Time: 10-15 minutes

Materials: Work with your core text, a level-appropriate reader, or create your own text.

The Talk of the Block series from New Readers Press contains readings on various themes that work well for this type of activity.

Preparation: Look for vocabulary in a text that can be used as the basis for a spelling and pronunciation lesson. For example, in the story, "Food from the Heart" from the Talk of the Block series, words using the long “e” sound are featured. These include words like meal, meat, and peel, which illustrate different spellings for the long “e” sound. You could write a simple story of your own about family, using words like nurse, daughter, and first to illustrate the different spellings for the same sound.


  1. Based on your theme, elicit vocabulary from learners. Using visuals to prompt learners’ memories is very helpful. Add to these words the ones you want to highlight for your spelling/pronunciation lesson. Elicit spelling when writing all the words on the board and pre-teach any new vocabulary that students will encounter in the story.
  2. Focusing on the sounds and letter combinations you wish to emphasize, circle or underline them in the words on the board, model them, and practice the pronunciation.
  1. Erase the words on the board and give students a brief dictation or spelling test.
  2. Give students a copy of the story to read. You may decide to have them read it silently first, then aloud to see if they remember the spelling and pronunciation rules. Again, list the words in the story that illustrate the spelling lesson, or ask learners to identify them.
  3. Ask students to write sentences using the words.
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