Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spelling Instruction Tips

These spelling suggestions are based upon the traditional 3 or 5 day spelling week format beginning with a pretest and ending with final test.
1.   Give pretest orally (give the list yourself; have an older student give younger students the list; record the word list or use  which can administer customized audio lists to student).
2.   Use each word in a sentence when giving the test and repeat it a few times so student can clearly understand the word.
3.   Have student pronounce each word orally to you.
4.   Correcting test. You can correct the test as you go along or at the end. I like to correct as we go along. You can also have student correct the words at the end against a prepared list.
5.   Have student record misspelled words on a Misspelled Words tracker.
I don’t give grades for pretests.

After giving a spelling pretest, be sure to do the following activities to help student ________________________:
1.   Have student define each word orally or give a sample sentence with the word in it that shows student understands the meaning (if student cannot do either, supply a meaning, or if time permits, have student look words up)
2.   Discuss spelling rules (if list is based upon a spelling rule or concept—which I highly recommend).
a.    explain the rule (e.g. ph makes /f/ sound) and when it applies; exceptions to rules
b.   e.g. the effects (on spelling and meaning) of adding suffixes

If you are using spelling lists and not a prepared curriculum, be sure to obtain a spelling rules reference book to help you teach the rules. It is a good idea to write out discussion notes beforehand.

For spelling practice, I prepare a basic weekly spelling routine. This helps to automate spelling time.
Some spelling programs suggest working only with the misspelled words rather than the whole list, which makes sense. However, in our weekly spelling routine, my students do activities with all the words as my goal in spelling is to also reinforce grammar and writing skills.
My weekly spelling routine is perhaps a little intense, but seemingly effective for most of my kids. For simpler routines, here are some sample activities:
·         Spelling sort (sort by the spelling rule, number of letters in the word, syllables, etc.)
·         Writing of the misspelled words (repeatedly or in a fun and creative word)
·         Meaning match exercises, crossword puzzles or word searches
·         Fill in the blank in a sentence with the correct spelling word.
·         Proofreading exercise

Give a final test similar to the pretest. You may also give the student sentences to write (which include the spelling word). I don’t always give traditional tests; sometimes we play “Spelling Showdown” where the kids each compete with their own spelling lists.

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