A Weekly Procedure for Teaching Spelling
When students study spelling words, they usually memorize a sequence of letters that they promptly forget once the test is over. Learn about a method for teaching kids spelling words that focuses them on the sequence of sounds in words first. Also learn tips for creating a successful spelling program.
- Locate a systematic spelling program that develops students' spelling power. Sort the words on the weekly list for spelling patterns, e.g., a common phonogram, a common digraph or cluster, or a common prefix, root, or suffix. Choose a representative word from each group, a key word. After group study, this word will go on the word wall.
- Introduce key words on Monday (use the routine outlined above). Before introducing each word, make certain of the number of phonemes (sounds) and which letters spell each phoneme.
- Cooperative learning groups study the other words on Tuesday and Thursday. Teams should be as balanced as possible in spelling ability; each team should have a mix of good spellers and struggling spellers.
Plan a reward for teams that average above 90 percent on the weekly test. The reward could be something as simple as ten minutes free time or the right to choose a learning game. Avoid cutthroat competition by setting up a situation in which every team can win the reward. Team success depends on each member one low score can drag down the team average. This means that the team wins by helping one another.
On the second day, students within teams pair up to study the words. They work on the words that are other examples of patterns introduced the day before not the key words introduced by the teacher.
Each partner takes turns being the leader, following through the steps for word study. After the student pairs have practiced each of the words, the group takes a practice test, with one member giving the words to the team. The study pairs then break up to study each word either partner has missed on the practice test. For each missed word, the partners go through the steps again.
Remind students that some words will be on the test that are not on the list. It will take spelling power to get these words right. Memorization will not help.
- Review and exercise knowledge of words with whole-class work on Wednesday and part of Thursday. Include games, every-pupil-response activities, and selected work from the spelling text.
- Spelling test on Friday. With a selection of unit words, include a sample of untaught words of the learned pattern. For example, if students have studied pain, ask them to spell gain, and remind them that it has the same spelling pattern as pain.
After the test, average the team scores and reward the winners. You might have a special reward (e.g., class kickball game) if every team is successful.