Monday, March 25, 2013

Sound Pictures

If you follow our website you know that Katie and I use the term "Sound Pictures" often to refer to letters because technically, letters are "pictures" for sounds and the term "sound pictures" cues kids into the nature of what letters do...they stand for sounds. 

We also use the terms "Advanced Code" & "Code Variation" to describe when two or more letters represents a sound and when one sound in our language can be represented more than one way.  (For further info on advanced code and code variation, visit our Reading Activities II Page at

Here is a one pager that demonstrates what I am talking about: Vowel Code Variation

The power of using controlled word lists that are organized by sound to improve reading decoding is undeniable. 

I'll demonstrate with two quick videos...

Video #1: Cold Read

This is my second grade friend Aaliyah working on words that contain the Long E sound. Watch her first attempt at these words and then read on...


Video #2: After Highlighting the Advanced Code

You can see in Video #1, Aaliyah truly struggles to read accurately.  Her word attack strategies were poor, she often guessed and I certainly did not prompt her to read the words from left to right. I gave her no corrective feedback at all.  Now watch what happens no more than 5 minutes later after I highlight the advanced code and all the code variation (spelling patterns) for the Long E sound.

Big difference huh?  By simply using a controlled word list and highlighting the advanced code, her accuracy goes up, her word attack skills improve and her confidence is higher!   

That is what we like to see. 


The advanced written code causes more reading problems than you can possibly imagine.  By teaching it explicitly and systematically to your students  you can truly can see remarkable reading gains in a short amount of time. It also helps to have such a hard worker like Aaliyah.  I heart her!

To learn more about teaching the advanced code and to download the FREE Advanced Code Word Lists I used with Aaliyah (one for every vowel sound), head over to the Reading Activities II Page  at 

We hope our resources help some of your students too!

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