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Spelling

The buzz about the Spelling Bee

There are just 40 days until the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Our elementary school holds a local event, and classroom-winning third through fifth graders wring their hands on stage working to spell some tough words! This year, a middle schooler from our school district won our regional competition by correctly spelling "Bolshevik." He will be among the competitors at the national level in Oxon Hill, MD.

Reading aloud with kids around the globe

What if your students could share a popular work of children's literature with other students around the world? Fourth-grade teacher Jan Wells has blown the lid off her small school in Meriden Kansas (population 813) by taking advantage of (free) projects offered by the educational community on Edmodo that allow her to do just that.

Careful watching and listening during those first few days of school

First day jitters? First week jitters? Assessing kids those first few days and weeks of school probably isn't a great idea. Kids need a chance to settle in to school, to learn the new routine, and generally become more comfortable in the new classroom. Hopefully, by waiting, a child's assessment results more accurately reflect her true skills.

Using but confusing, with laundry

I've written before about using a child's writing as a way to understand what she needs from her instruction. This weekend provided me with more insight into Anna's (our 6 year old) development by showing me what she's "using but confusing," a term used by Donald Bear and colleagues in their research in word study.

The girls' Sunday chore was to organize their dresser. Always industrious, Anna took it a step further and labeled each drawer. You can see her work in this photo:

No more Friday spelling tests!

I think I'll open a can of worms this week and declare that teachers should abandon the age-old practice of Friday spelling tests. You know the routine (because you went to elementary school, and it hasn't changed): students get new words on Monday, "practice" them during the week using various drills; they take a test on Friday, and then on Monday, misspell the words and all the other words that share that spelling feature.

Spelling made fun

Within Molly's first-grade class, there is a huge range of spelling and reading skills. Her teacher groups for reading and spelling; usually the kids who read together have the same word study words, but not always. There are four word study groups within the classroom.

Having four spelling groups is great in terms of differentiation, but tough to manage! I came across this fun site for spelling that just might be one answer for Molly's teacher.

Can Santa read this?

We're still reading and writing around our house, with Anna adding to her list each day. Because of this, I'll be busy right up until the last minute trying to figure out what a few of these things might be!

Happy holidays to you — thanks for reading Sound It Out this year, and I look forward to next year! We'll have lots to talk about, including infusing technology into literacy instruction, analyzing student spelling, using text sets to motivate reluctant readers, summer reading, and writing instruction for all students. See you then!

'Tis the season to read and write

Like everyone, we're in for a busy couple of weeks. Our homework and storytime routines sometimes get pushed aside, and at first I was feeling guilty about that. But when I think about how the girls are spending their time, there's plenty of reading, writing, and math going on...it just looks different! Here's how Anna spent her afternoon yesterday on the computer:

Dear Santa,

"The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can't." — Mark Twain