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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.

I’m not the only one who advocates abandoning the practice; in fact this blog’s title came from a similarly titled 2005 Council for Exceptional Children article (opens in a new window). Loeffler, the author, describes how this approach of teaching spelling fails kids who struggle, particularly kids with LD who have poor memory skills. She recommends using a spelling rubric (found within the article) based on student writing as an alternative to Friday tests. I have a few issues with the approach she suggests, but I do think it’s a step in the right direction.

Teaching spelling well is a huge topic, one that can’t be covered here in a blog post. But it’s clear that we need to teach kids to spell in a way that makes sense. We know that spelling supports reading (opens in a new window) and that accurate spelling of words supports fluent writing. We also know that methods like this (opens in a new window) just fail our kids.

Let’s start a conversation about what we can do to teach spelling well. Is your child a good speller? Do you see the “Friday test, Monday miss” phenomena in your house? How can we make sure each child’s spelling words are at the right level of challenge? How can we teach sounds, syllables, morphemes, and something about word origin?

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
October 13, 2008