Continuum Unpacked

tch, dge, floss


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Category: Word-Level Reading and Spelling

The English writing system is based not only on sound but also on meaning. Orthographic knowledge refers to the understanding of the English spelling system and its patterns, including grapheme positions and combinations in a word. Morphological knowledge refers to the understanding of how morphemes can be used to form words. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning within words, including prefixes, suffixes, and bases. All words are made up of one or more morphemes. 

Students apply their consolidated phonological awareness and phonics knowledge, as well as their developing orthographic and morphological knowledge, to read and spell words in isolation and in various text contexts.

Knowledge and Skills: Applying Phonics Knowledge in Reading and Spelling

Kindergarten to Grade 4
  • Developing an understanding that there are multiple ways to spell some phonemes and choosing between multiple graphemes to spell a phoneme
  • Using the position of the grapheme or phoneme and their knowledge of position-based tendencies, as necessary, to support spelling and determine accurate pronunciation when reading
  • (Note: Instruction in grapheme-phoneme correspondence should focus on teaching students the “most common spelling” grapheme for that phoneme in that position to support students in making the correct choices when reading and spelling. Orthographic knowledge cannot be taught in isolation and needs to be practised and applied in word decoding and spelling.)

Looks like


reading and spelling words using phonemes and corresponding graphemes that have been explicitly taught

Grade 1

  • learning the most frequent spellings for some final consonant sounds directly after a short vowel: <-tch> = /ch/; <-dge> = /j/
  • the FLSZ spelling rule (i.e., <-ff>, <-ll>, <-ss>, <-zz>)

Why is this important?

Phonics lays the foundation for reading comprehension. By learning phonics, students acquire the ability to decode words. Decoding allows students to read words, sentences, and eventually, texts accurately.
To decode, students must understand the relationship between sounds and print, or grapheme-phoneme correspondence. To support automatic, effortless word reading, it is crucial that students can accurately and automatically associate graphemes with phonemes.


This grapheme-phoneme correspondence should be systematically and explicitly taught, within a scope and sequence that builds from more simple to more complex concepts. Explicit instruction is characterized by direct modelling, guided practice, and purposeful individual practice. Grapheme-phoneme correspondences should not be taught in isolation, but should instead be closely linked to other activities in the literacy block. Students should practice both reading and writing words containing sound-spelling links they have learned, and texts should offer students opportunities to decode words with this pattern. This careful integration encourages students to apply developing knowledge and skill to other reading and writing tasks.
Students need to be taught that…