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Rule Revisions

By Rodney Everson • Updated Jul 27th, 2023

OnTrack Reading Phonics Program

Teach your student the phonics advanced code in as little as 8 weeks with our 170-page workbook and instruction manual.

Revision #3: Necessary Changes to the Rules

Because the OnTrack Reading Homeschooling Program disregards Ms. Spalding's five rules for the ending "e" and instead utilizes ending digraphs, those particular rules obviously need to be dropped from the presentation. In addition, several other rules can be dropped without harm. They're listed here (from the 5th edition) along with the reason for dropping them.

Rules to be Dropped or Modified

Rule 4: Vowels a, e, o, and u usually say /ae/, /ee/, /ie/, and /ue/ at the end of a syllable (na-vy, me, o-pen, mu-sic). Drop rule 4 if you adopt the OnTrack Reading chunking technique for decoding multisyllable words.

Drop rule 5: The letters i and y usually say /i/ (big, gym), but may say /ie/ (silent, my, type). Drop because the /ee/ sound has been added to both phonograms i and y.

Drop rule 6: The letter y, not i, is used at the end of an English word. Drop because it is too inconsistent to be useful (ski, taxi, hi, and a few dozen more).

Drop rule 7: There are five kinds of silent e's... Drop because the entire concept of a "silent e" is omitted from this curriculum and ending digraphs are used instead.

Modify this part of rule 8: The phonogram or may say /er/ when it follows w (work). Modify it by adding "and the phonogram ar may say /or/ when it follows w (war, warm)." Actually, it says /or/ when it follows the sound /w/, including the /w/ in "qu" (/kw/-quart) and the /w/ in "wh" (/hw/-wharf). If rule 8 is taught, it should also include this pattern. Note that "wor" is not a phonogram in this curriculum, increasing the utility of this rule.

Drop rule 15 (4th edition's rule 12): The phonogram si is used to say /sh/ when the syllable before it ends in an s (ses-sion) or when the base word has an s where the base word changes (tense, ten sion). Drop because ssi in words like session and mission is treated as a phonogram for /sh/ in this expanded set of phonograms. Also, the last part of the rule is of little value given the few words that it covers.

Drop rule 16 (4th edition's rule 13): The phonogram si may also say /zh/ as in vi-sion. Drop because the phonogram si is taught to be the two sounds, /sh/zh/, so the rule is unnecessary.

Modify the part of rule 28 that states: The phonogram ed has three sounds. Change it to "The phonogram ed has two sounds," because in the third case, "ed" is not a phonogram. Instead the "e" and "d" each represent separate sounds, /e/ and /d/, respectively. The rest of the rule is fine; your child does need to learn that the spelling "ed" has three possible interpretations, and the rule will accomplish that.

Rule 29: Words are usually divided between double consonants... Drop if you adopt the OnTrack Reading chunking technique for decoding multisyllable words because doubled consonants are usually digraphs for a single sound and therefore should not be split and placed into two separate chunks.

Rules and Concepts to be Added

The following need to be incorporated into the regular WRTR curriculum. How and when to do so will be explained in the Step-by-Step Instructions section.

1. The split vowel digraph in words like game, theme, time, tone and cute needs to be introduced and explained.

2. The concept of a vowel sound should be explained as it being the loud sound in a word or chunk. The remaining quieter sounds are all consonant sounds.

3. The concept of a chunk being different than a syllable in form, but similar in that every chunk and every syllable contains exactly one vowel sound should be explained. Thus, every four-syllable word also has four chunks.

4. The Main Rule for chunking needs to be introduced.

5. The Three Exceptions to the Main Rule each need to be introduced.

The first rule added ensures that your child understands the meaning of a split vowel.

The last four items form the foundation of the OnTrack Reading Multisyllable Method discussed next as we switch the emphasis from coding words to decoding them in the section Improved Decoding.

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