SWI: Investigating the letter C

Whenever a student has a pressing question about words,  the question is placed on our Wonder Wall so that we can revisit and investigate it later. During a recent Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) session, a few grade 3 students added a question for us to investigate.

They had noticed that the letter C made different sounds depending on the word it was in. They asked:

The students began their investigation by brainstorming as many words as they knew that contained the <c> grapheme. The <c> could be at the beginning, end, or middle of the word. Some of these words included: celebration, character, face, and communicate.

The student shared some of these words to be written on the white board and suggested categories for these words. We found so many words that we almost ran out of space!

After studying the categories they created, the students developed a hypothesis about the letter C and made plans to further investigate which letters (graphemes) changed the spelling of the letter C.

In the following session, the students studied their whiteboard data and discussed the location of specific graphemes and how this informed their pronunciation of the <c> in each word. The two groups are pictured below:

  1. <C> graphemes that create /s/ phonemes:

2. <C> graphemes that create /k/ phonemes…

The next day, the class took charge and presented what they had learned about the letter C and the jobs it can have inside individual words. They created lists of words they knew and organised them into categories.

Each student group reviewed their list of words and created labels for each category based on the function of the letter C within that word.

During this investigation the students became interested in the <ch> digraph and have started noting the different sounds it can make depending on the word. We have a new investigation waiting for us on our Wonder Wall!

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