Case Study of Tommy, a Third Grade Student
by Eleanor Welch


April 20, 1999

Teacher comments:

The teacher is concerned that, in spite of receiving intervention services, Tommy is still not reading with fluency. Reading comprehension is another concern, as is Tommy’s writing--in particular, his grammar and spelling. Tommy’s performance in the classroom is inconsistent. The teacher feels there are social-emotional issues, but generally finds Tommy to be kind, helpful, and positive. When reading text, Tommy appears to use context and other strategies to back up his phonics decoding skills. Sometimes he seems to be guessing vowel sounds almost randomly as he tries each one out. He ends up with the right word, but the process can be laborious. When his decoding skill are more automatic and require less cognitive effort, his comprehension in the classroom should improve.

Assessment Results:


Running Record of Text Reading: Tommy read a Text Level 24 with 97% accuracy and self-correcting rate of 1:3. His pace was slow and choppy. Comprehension: Tommy’s retelling was concise and included all pertinent information. Qualitative Spelling Inventory: (from Words Their Way, by Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, and Johnston): Tommy is in the Within Word Pattern Stage. He is “Using but confusing” the patterns in that stage. His spelling were as follows: “trane” (train), “closit” (closet), “case” (chase), “float” (float), and “ beches” (beaches). Phonics Inventory: Tommy scored perfectly in alphabet names, consonant sounds, consonant digraphs, and consonant blends. He missed several short vowel words. (For example, in the oral section, he said the vowel in “bunk” was “o”. In the reading section, he read “jav” as “juv.” He read “pal” as “paul” in the reversal section.) In both long vowel sections, vowel pairs and silent “e,” he read all words correctly. He will need instruction in diphthongs and vowel +r.

Lesson Plan:


Before going on to word work involving long vowel spelling patterns, diphthongs, and r-controlled vowels, the teacher needs to go back and make certain that Tommy’s knowledge of short vowels is solid.

A 30 -minute intervention lesson might include:

  1. Reread familiar books.
  2. Practice kinesthetic signals from Project Read or Zoo Phonics to reinforce short vowel sounds.
  3. Use short vowel word flashcards. Have Tommy read the words out loud while doing the appropriate kinesthetic signal for the vowel sound. Finish by dictating some short vowel words for Tommy to write.
  4. Do a Making Words lesson ( Patricia Cunningham) using the appropriate sound patterns OR play bingo using a game board with assorted short vowel words OR do an appropriate Word Sort from Words Their Way.
  5. Introduce the new book or new chapter in an easy chapter book. After the guided reading lesson, have Tommy be a word detective and search through the book he just read, looking for short vowel sounds. He can make a chart in his journal, listing short “a” words in one column, short “e” words in another column, etc.

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