This year I want you to forget everything you know about spelling from your elementary school days. Times… they are ‘a changin’! Over the years, I have experimented with many different spelling programs and over the last few years, I have devoted most of my time and energy into the methodology and theory found within the Rebecca Sitton Spelling program.
First, here are some things that I want you to know about my personal theory on learning to spell.
1. There will be NO spelling list that goes home each week. Instead spelling lists will be individualized for each student in the “Words to Learn” list. For each spelling unit, the Words to Learn will come from the students’ own mastery or lack thereof for that unit’s words.
2. Forget the “Monday Pre-Test”. There is no set time on how long it will take us to work through each unit, therefore, I cannot say that EVERY Monday there will be a pre-test and EVERY Friday there will be a Spelling Mastery Test. Instead, at the beginning of the unit, there will be a “Word Preview” consisting of five Core words. NO, these are not meant to take home and memorize. These words will be used to teach skills throughout the unit. At the end of the unit, we will have a “Spelling Word Cloze Test”.
Which leads me to…
3. Forget the “Friday Spelling Test”. No longer will I have my students number their papers from 1 to 10 or 20 and call out a word and then make the students spell the word. There is not one theory that encourages this type of assessment. And frankly, I think it is silly. I want my students to become life-long spellers and in order to do that, I need them to have real-world practice. The way I will assess students is with the “Spelling Word Cloze Test”. Students will have a paragraph of coherent and connecting sentences with 20 words missing. I will read the paragraph aloud as students follow along. When they come to a blank space, they will fill in the word that I have said aloud. Words that students spell incorrectly will be written (by the student) on their Words to Learn list. (Which takes me back to Number 1.
4. At no point will students be required to write their spelling words over and over and over and over again. This type of activity only encourages memorization (which we know does NOT work) and is, well…. pointless. It’s a waste of time. It is rote memorization and no connections are made between the spelling of the word and the recall of that spelling. Please, please, PLEASE do NOT have your child write their spelling words five times each as practice. There are so many more meaningful spelling activities that we will do that will help your child, my students, become life-long spellers.
5. If you want your child to become a better speller, encourage them to read, read, READ! Think about it, when you are unsure about how to spell a word, don’t you write it first, look at it, think about how you have SEEN it spelled before and then make an informed decision on how to spell the word? (Or you just let the auto-correct fix it, but we’ll address that later!) It’s because you are scanning your mind for times that you have read the word!
Check back here often for many spelling resources and for what we are specifically doing in class!