Decodable Story: “A Big Bad Rat”
Focus Concept: VC and CVC words – short vowels
Aligned to Orton Gillingham Level 1 Instruction
“A Big Bad Rat” is an original story written for beginning and/or struggling readers in alignment with Orton Gillingham (OG) Level 1 instruction. It has been written entirely with 1-syllable words and features many uses of VC and CVC words using short vowels. Before reading this story independently, students should have been explicitly taught the short vowels and all consonants. In addition, the suffix –s appears in a handful of instances.
Also included in the story are a number of OG Level 1 learned words (sometimes referred to as sight words). All are listed on the included Educator Guide. Students should be familiar with these learned words before reading this story.
What is included in this download?
1. Educator Master: a 1-page version of the story text that mirrors the 1-page student copy; includes a “Quick Guide” to ensuring the text is aligned to the student’s learning and a place to track timed reading and calculate WPM (words per minute). Perfect for recording errors and omissions as with a running record.
2. Student Copy: a 1-page copy of the story with a font size and spacing appropriate for a beginning or struggling reader; can also be used on an interactive whiteboard or overhead projector.
3. Educator’s Guide: includes word count, a full listing of the sight words used in the text as well as the words that align to the focus concept, and expectations for the phonograms and phonic skills and concepts the student should have already been explicitly taught. Ideas for how to use the text and possible extension activities are also included.
4. A student-friendly list of the words from the text that align to the focus concept as well as a list of all the sight words in the story. This list can be used for a supervised pre-reading with an adult to ensure the student is ready to practice decoding independently.
5. A print-ready “I Spy” worksheet that asks readers to find and write words from the story that align to the focus concept.
6. A foldable booklet version of the story that can be printed double-sided (instructions below), folded, and stapled to add to a student’s personal library. Each page has ample space for illustrations to be added by the student.
Notes on the foldable booklet version:
When printing the booklet, make sure that your printer is printing “actual size” and not trying to “fit” to the page. The text is meant to print double-sided. If you only have a single-sided printer, no problem. Simply print the odd pages first, then reload the pages upside down and print the even pages. This may take some trial and error depending on your printer.
I am just beginning to post this type of content on TPT, and am currently developing similar stories and resources. Please follow my store for updates or check back soon. I welcome any and all feedback!
What is a “decodable” story?
Decodable stories are not simply “easier” or “simpler”. Instead, decodable stories are those that feature only the phonic skills and concepts that a child has already been exposed to. As such, a decodable story offers the opportunity for the child to solidify foundational phonic skills and concepts in the context of a story that is engaging and motivating. Aside from a handful of sight words that a child must learn to recognize visually, every word in the story can be sounded out. This discourages bad habits like guessing or skipping unfamiliar words. For a beginning or struggling reader, this opportunity to feel success in breaking the reading code can be a powerful and transformative experience. With continued practice, readers are able to move beyond the code-breaking aspect of reading (mastering sound-symbol correspondence) and on to the challenge of reading with fluency, expression, and understanding. Decodable stories such as this one are not intended to replace other kinds of books. Instead, they can be used as a tool to precede and facilitate the reading of more challenging texts.
The Educator’s Guide that accompanies each story features a list of the specific phonograms and phonic skills and concepts included in the story. When deciding whether this story is the proper fit for a child, make sure the skills and concepts listed align with what the child has already been explicitly taught.
How to Use this Decodable Story
Each story can be used in a variety of settings: the classroom, at home, or in private tutoring sessions. Listed below are just a few suggestions for how this text might be used.
• As a culminating experience to a related phonics lesson
• For fluency practice, timed or untimed (Educator’s Guide features word counts and a place to track WPM performance)
• To build home-school connections by having a child bring the text home to read to a caregiver
• For encoding (spelling) practice: use full sentences from the story as dictation challenges; pull focus concept words as spelling words
Each download includes a list of the sight words and focus concept words used in the story. Some children may benefit from a supervised reading of these words in list form before being asked to read the story independently.
Questions or special requests before purchasing? Feel free to send me a question or request via Q/A on TPT.
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