A Look into Teaching -ck

A Look into Teaching -ck.png

Today, we want to walk through some of the components we want to pull in when teaching ‘ck’ to students. Whenever we are are working with a student, we like to take the SMARTER approach.

We know that by using all of these components, our students will have a greater chance at learning and mastering the material we are teaching them.

So, how do we teach ‘ck’ using the SMARTER acronym? Great question! Let’s take a look:


First of all, we want our lesson to be systematic. This means that we’re starting with the most basic concepts and slowly working our way to the more advanced concepts. In our scope and sequence, ‘ck’ is Lesson 1. This means that it is one of the more basic concepts within the sequence (a good scope and sequence should be sequential and cumulative building from easier to more difficult concepts). Interested in the rest of the scope and sequence we use in our systematic lessons? You can check it out here!


Teaching ‘ck’ in a multi-sensory way doesn’t mean we need play dough or sand in our lesson. It means we want to try to engage more than one sense at a time while teaching the content. To add in a multi-sensory aspect while teaching ‘ck,’ I have my students write ‘ck’ while saying “c, k, says /ck/” three times out loud. This is engaging three senses at once, since they are writing it (kinesthetic), seeing it (visual) it and hear themselves saying it (auditory). If you wanted to take it a step further, you could have your student write and say “c, k, says /ck/” on glitter paper or textured paper, but just know that you don’t need these extra components to make it multi-sensory. If you’re interested in learning more about Multi-sensory Reading, check out this blog!


While it is important for a student to show mastery on a concept in isolation, it is even more import for a student to be able to apply that concept outside of a school or intervention setting. A great way for a student to do this with ‘ck’ would be to highlight words with ‘ck’ in a book they are reading. I like to tell my students’ parents what concept we worked on that day, so that the parents can bring up that new phonogram in natural settings, like this: “Look, Chick-fil-a has a ‘ck’ in it! How cool!” By doing this, parents are showing their child that what we’re working on doesn’t just apply at school or during intervention, but that it is going to show up in multiple settings!


That’s right, you’re going to want to use a method that is supported by data and research! We want to make sure that data is supporting the type of results we are expecting to see from our students! Research supports explicit teaching methods, which means you’re going to want to clearly state whatever rule or pattern you’re working on so that it leaves no room for guessing (more on this with letter “e” in SMARTER.)

We also want to make sure that whatever program we are using is backed by research and isn’t considered “pseudo-science.” This is the only way to guarantee that what you are doing has been shown to help.


Whenever possible, we want to make sure we’re pulling in specific activities for our students’ specific needs. All of our students have different ability levels, and so it wouldn’t make sense for us to pull in the exact same activities for each of them. Some students are able to decode multisyllabic words, where some are focusing on decoding at the single-syllable level. Some are ready for writing support, while others need to focus on the mechanics of writing ‘ck’ correctly in isolation. Really pay attention to where your students are at and pull in the necessary “extras” so they can get the exact type of instruction they need!


As noted earlier, students really benefit from being taught explicitly. This means you state the rule or phonogram pattern to them exactly as it is. This leaves no room for guessing, and you’re not teaching incidentally either. When teaching ‘ck,’ we explicitly tell our students, “ck says /k/ at the end of a single syllable word when it follows a short vowel.” We also make sure to review what syllables are (so they understand what single-syllable means) as well as short vowels. This rule applies to all closed syllables. If you want more information on closed syllable rules, you can find them here!


Lastly, be realistic with the work your students can do. Meet your student where they’re at. Like we mentioned before, every student is at a different level. Some students may be ready to explore more advanced concepts in a shorter amount of time, while other students may need to spend multiple lessons on really solidifying concepts.

Also, be realistic with your expectations of yourself! You’re doing great, and nobody’s perfect. It’s okay if things don’t go as planned, or you have a session that was less than perfect. Chances are, your student won’t even be able to tell!

And… so many of you have been asking:

What Does a SMARTER Intervention for Struggling Readers Look Like?

Well wait no more. We are happy to share how we teach -CK (and in our lessons we often layer in reading fluency, comprehension, and morphology so you will get a sneak peek of those resources too).


And if you love it, we’d love to tell you more about why this works so well in our upcoming free online training which you can register for by clicking right here!

Seriously, what are you waiting for? Intervention has never been so easy and so effective!