Mastering R-Controlled Syllables: Innovative Orton-Gillingham Techniques You Need to Know

The R-controlled syllable is the R in REVLOC. In REVLOC, R-controlled syllables dominate all.

The remember sentence says: Always look for R first, then look for E, V, L next, and last look for O and C.

REVLOC is a made-up word, but tells students the order to look for when decoding words.

R-Controlled Syllable Pattern

For someone new to reading who has been taught closed syllables, “fir” might look closed, right? It’s a vowel closed in by two consonants. But, that ir means it is r-controlled.  

We teach R-Controlled vowels first using our multi-sensory approach and then we can move on to R-Controlled syllables. Students read, label, and learn syllables then we move to Hornet Words in the VCCV syllable division pattern.

By this time, students have been dividing Rabbit, Reptile, and Candy words. They’ll be taught R-Controlled vowels and how the R makes the vowel change the way it sounds, and have their learning reinforced with OG multi-sensory learning. Hopefully, dividing words with R-controlled vowels will be easier once they get the hang of sounds and practice with syllables.

Teaching R-Controlled Syllables

The r-controlled, or Bossy-R, syllables may seem confusing, but the point in making the distinction is to pull out the syllable and make it more manageable.

If you get a word like: murder


Underline vowels, divide between the two consonants to get two syllables.

Mur Der

Now we can use the ur and er rules to figure out the sounds. Spelling it if you have never seen the word might be difficult because both of the syllables sound just alike, but reading a word like “murder” will be easier.

We are delivering these words in groups and this makes remembering these words easier in the long term.

WAYS TO PRACTICE R-Controlled SYLLABLES           

Activity #1

First, you have cards in your reading vowels deck that teach each sound with a keyword.

Do this before you ever mention the R-Controlled syllable. Get the student used to seeing the pattern, and knowing the sound, and keywords.

Start small, with OR and AR because those are the most phonetic in reading and spelling. ER, IR, and UR all sound alike. Those are trickier when it comes to spelling.

The deck then expands into more complex R-Controlled vowels, for example, EAR, URE, ERE, IRR, and more.

Activity #2

Have cards with syllables on them and have students go through and read the syllables out loud. Once you get them used to seeing R-Controlled syllables, mix in closed, magic E, and open syllables.

You can also use these cards for sorting into syllable types, but make sure they read out loud too.

Activity #3

Have your students label syllables with an R (the R in REVLOC). You can start with Closed and R-Controlled, then move to Closed with Magic E, Open and R-Controlled.

Activity #4

Have students put two syllables beside each other and read them slow then read faster. They will be reading words and be impressed with themselves!

For example, have cards with the syllable DIN (closed) and NER (R-controlled), student reads, DIN (slow) NER (slow), and then DIN-NER (faster, then fast). They read DINNER!

This is a great start to dividing VCCV HORNET words.

Final Word

A student has now been working with syllables and syllable types, so they should have a grasp of what a syllable is by now. They will have been dividing words as well. The hardest part of R-controlled vowels and syllables is the spelling because so many sound alike.

This is where grouping words and being patient with the learning process comes in. It takes time to learn how these words are spelled. It’s easier to teach reading these words.

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(2) Comments

  1. I just purchased the bundle and was in the middle of downloading the electronic copy when my computer shut down. I cannot find the link to download the electronic copy on my receipt. Can you please send me the link for both of the electronic workbooks that came with my purchase? Thank you.
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    1. Hi! I just emailed you the links. You should also receive links in your email, but sometimes those go to junk folders.

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