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  #1  
Old 11-30-2008, 02:34 PM
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Pisces_Fish Pisces_Fish is offline
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What the heck is a schwa?

My phonics skill for this week are schwa words. The problem is, I don't know what the heck a schwa is! I googled it, but none of it makes sense to me. How can I teach it if I don't understand? Someone dumb it down for me?
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  #2  
Old 11-30-2008, 02:43 PM
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czacza czacza is offline
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From wiki:1 : an unstressed mid-central vowel (as the usual sound of the first and last vowels of the English word America)
2 : the symbol ə used for the schwa sound and less widely for a similarly articulated stressed vowel (as in cut)

Schwa is the most common vowel sound in English, a reduced vowel in many unstressed syllables, especially if syllabic consonants are not used:

like the 'a' in about [əˈbaʊt]
like the 'e' in taken [ˈteɪkən]
like the 'i' in pencil [ˈpɛnsəl]
like the 'o' in eloquent [ˈɛləkwənt]
like the 'u' in supply [səˈplaɪ]
like the 'y' in sibyl [ˈsɪbəl]


You could explain it to your kiddos as how sometimes vowels don't sound like 'themselves' and sometimes the sound they make is called 'schwa'...Some call 'schwa' the 'weak vowel' sound in words...

Some words here:
http://www.dwcummings.com/cbs/CBS%20320%20te.pdf
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:44 PM
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It is the "uhhh" sound in a word, example is the word about the a makes the "uhhh" sound. In medium the u makes the "uhhh" sound, at my school we refer to it as the "DUH" sound because during a training no one knew what it was, even the OCR trainer.
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Old 11-30-2008, 02:52 PM
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Hmmm.....

That helps it make more sense, but now I have a problem. I use Words Their Way, which basically means I make up all my own word lists (very frustrating, but it's what my school uses...)

My partner teacher and I made up what we thought was a schwa list (more specifically, schwa + N). Anyway, some of the words we listed don't seem "schwa" to me, such as violin. I don't hear a schwa there.

Here it is. Do you see any words in there that aren't "schwa?"

1. Captain
2. Fountain
3. Bargain
4. Curtain
5. Stolen
6. Listen
7. Occasion
8. Hidden
9. Penguin
10. Eleven
11. Chosen
12. Woman
13. Cotton
14. Ribbon
15. Opinion
16. Cousin
17. Gallon
18. Apron
19. Again
20. Violin
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  #5  
Old 11-30-2008, 02:59 PM
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czacza czacza is offline
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Look up your word list in a dictionary or dictionary.com...if the pronunciation has the upside down e in it, then it has a schwa...

I use Words Their Way...dont you have the word sorts books? Those are what I use for spelling words...The blue sort book (derivational spellers) has some schwa sorts:

Sort 20 Vowel Alternation: Long to Short or Schwa 56

Sort 21 Adding Suffix -ity: Vowel Alternation, Schwa to Short 57

Sort 22 Vowel Alternations: Long, Short, and Schwa 58
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Old 11-30-2008, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by czacza View Post
Look up your word list in a dictionary or dictionary.com...if the pronunciation has the upside down e in it, then it has a schwa...

I use Words Their Way...dont you have the word sorts books? Those are what I use for spelling words...The blue sort book (derivational spellers) has some schwa sorts:

Sort 20 Vowel Alternation: Long to Short or Schwa 56

Sort 21 Adding Suffix -ity: Vowel Alternation, Schwa to Short 57

Sort 22 Vowel Alternations: Long, Short, and Schwa 58
What a great idea about dictionary.com.

I have the orange WTW sorts book, I think it's for derivational spellers (?) it's too high for most of my kids, so I don't use it. I get most of my words from Scholastic's Teaching Phonics and Word Study.
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Old 11-30-2008, 03:35 PM
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Well, I tried Mirriam Webster's online dictionary because dictionary.com doesn't use the upside down e. It turns out that all my spelling words have a schwa, but not always at the end of the word. For the record, violin is a schwa. It's vi-upside down e-lin.

Thank you! It all makes sense now
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  #8  
Old 11-30-2008, 03:42 PM
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Sarge Sarge is offline
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It's a vowel that can't remember the sound it's supposed to make, so it scratches its head and goes "uh?"
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  #9  
Old 11-30-2008, 03:47 PM
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I call them lazy vowels.
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  #10  
Old 11-30-2008, 04:14 PM
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Upsadaisy Upsadaisy is offline
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Just think of words that have the duh sound. I don't think violin is a great example. Many people prounounce the second syllable as a long o.
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