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First Year Teacher Program



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 1.  Print awareness
 2.  The sounds of speech
 3.  Phonemic awareness
 4.  Phonics
 5.  Informal classroom-based assessment
 6.  Fluency
 7.  Vocabulary
 8.  Spelling
 9.  Writing
 10.  Text comprehension

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Module 8  –  Spelling

  |   Pre-test  |  Intro  |  In depth  |  In practice  |  Assignments  |  Post-test  |  


Video Clip

Word Families

At Sudduth Elementary School in Starkville, Mississippi, Tina Scholtes teaches first graders a handy spelling pattern that helps them recognize word clusters.

Many people think spelling is memorizing all the words in a dictionary and that spelling comes naturally to some and not to others. This understanding is wrong! Good spellers aren't born they're taught! Nearly 90 percent of English words can be spelled if you know basic patterns, principles and rules of spelling. If a child can spell a word, he or she can usually read the word. Students can use these rules as an aid to spelling unknown words. Good spellers are better readers and writers.

Putting spelling in perspective

There are about 400,000 words in a dictionary. Only 13 percent of these words are truly exceptional, in that they must be memorized by sight. In about 50 percent of these words, sound and letter associations connect perfectly. These words don't have to be memorized. The remaining 37 percent are easily learned through instruction of letter-sound correspondences. It is these last two categories from which 90 percent of written English words derive and where students can learn to understand spelling principles and patterns.

Spelling instruction should include

  • Alphabetic principle knowledge of which individual letters match up to sounds, in a left to right sequence (In the word cup each sound is represented by a single letter).

  • Pattern information which groups of letters function as a pattern to represent sounds (Examples of patterns would include: CVC (Consonant/Vowel/Consonant) pattern to form short vowels (e.g. like the word cat) or CVCe/CVVC patterns to form long vowels (e.g. like the words same or meat).

  • Meaning information which groups of letters represent the meaning (The prefix re- as in redo, means to do again).

Adapted from: Bear, D.R., M.A. Invernizzi, S. Templeton, F. Johnston (1996) Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling Instruction

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First Year Teacher was a pilot project of Reading Rockets, which is service of WETA, Washington D.C.'s flagship public television station. Funding for First Year Teacher was provided by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs; The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; and The Overbrook Foundation.

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