Teaching Spelling

Discussion in 'General Education' started by runsw/scissors, Jun 29, 2019.

  1. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Is there a specific order that spelling rules and patterns should be taught?

    I have a student who will be a 5th grader in the fall that is VERY behind in his spelling skills. He does get help from the sped teachers for reading and writing, but I don't think spelling is part of it (at least not directly). I know one of his goals on his IEP last year was knowing the silent E rule. The thing is, the young man KNOWS spelling is hard and expressed to me at the end of the school year that he needs help with his spelling. I know some rules and strategies I can give him and plan to work with his teacher next year to try and target his needs. I'd like to spend one day a week focusing on a spelling strategy and then helping him transfer that to his writing. But the best order in which to do it eludes me. I've tried researching this online and looking through professional books for the answer, but I can't find anything specifically about when to introduce different spelling patterns and rules.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    It sounds like he might be dyslexic and in need of a structured phonics program. Each of those programs has their own scope and sequence for the order in which the concepts are taught. You probably need to make sure that you work in conjunction with the sped teacher. Whatever program is being used for reading should also be used for spelling so that they skills are learned together for each concept.
     
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  4. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    We just got a new reading curriculum last year that has weekly spelling lists, but the words on those lists are way above his success level. I think he averaged 50% on those weekly tests last year even with modifications like shortened lists. He is an ELL student which makes the struggle more pronounced. He does need phonics skills, but I don't think he is dyslexic. He has never showed any signs of that.
     
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Difficulty with spelling is a definite sign of dyslexia. Regardless, a program designed for supporting a student with dyslexia will also support any student needing significant spelling support. An explicit, systematic, structured phonics program teaches letter-sound knowledge and syllable rules for both reading and spelling (phonology and orthography).
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    As someone who has endured a life-long struggle with spelling, let me say the "spelling rules" did nothing to help me. [There are 16 ways to spell the /sh/ sound.]

    What I do with my third grade students is require they submit a daily sentence or short paragraph with everything spelled correctly. These sentences are content related, so students must use vocabulary related to what we are learning, but with no list of words.

    This is a breeze for my natural spellers, but my poor spellers gradually develop strategies to find and correct misspelled words.

    At the year beginning and end, I give the spelling progress test and, despite having no other spelling program or spelling lists, my students do just as well (or poorly) as students in classes where the teacher spends 20 minutes a day on spelling.

    I spend that 20 minutes on writing skills, plus—when not in a spelling testing situation—my weak spellers can identify and fix spelling errors.

    Guess whose class outscored everyone else on the writing tests?
     
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  7. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    This is one of the best pedagogical ways to ensure that all learners achieve mastery in the classroom. By doing this, your students are being set up for success throughout their entire lives. Well done, Tyler!

    [​IMG]
     
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  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    This seems like a reasonable approach for a regular classroom setting. However, the OP seemed to be asking about an individual student with documented special needs who is severely behind in spelling. I’m not sure your approach is the best method for such a student, but, of course, that’s up to the OP.

    You seem to have a lot of freedom to teach however you want at your school. Does everyone in your school have this much freedom or have you earned that over others? In every school where I’ve worked, whether or not spelling (or any given academic content or program) was taught was determined by administrators, not individual teachers.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    What do you do if they do turn something in with errors? Do you check each one every day?
     
  10. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    If it were me, I'd purchase or have the family purchase a workbook such as Evan Moor Building Spelling Skills, Grade 1 or 2. The Spectrum series is also excellent for covering the basics. That way you would have a regimented plan with fewer gaps. You could still bring in outside activities but you would have a curriculum map to follow.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2019
  11. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    My goal for the OP was to show another way of dealing with a dyslexic speller. Slamming them with workbooks might cause more damage and defeat to an already weak student.

    I smile and nod during meetings where we are told how and what to teach, but do my own thing based on my assessment of my students' needs. I'm more inclined to ask for forgiveness than ask for permission. I keep my head low and try not to draw attention to what I'm doing. Parents love me and high test scores tend to foster a lot of forgiveness. In nearly 30 years of doing this, only once did a principal push back.
     
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  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I can check the spelling of 25 third grade sentences in less than two minutes.
     
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  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    I admire your willingness to do what you believe to be right, even when told to do otherwise. My principals have always done too many walkthroughs and observations for me to feel comfortable enough to do whatever I think is right. Although, if I had been at the same school for as long as it seems you have, then maybe I would feel a bit bolder.

    Aside from that, there is no research base for showing that your method works with dyslexic students who struggle with spelling and decoding. Again, it seems like a fine way to do spelling in a regular classroom with typical students, but it is not explicit, systematic, and structured phonics, which is a must for students who have dyslexia. The OP doesn't seem to think this student has dyslexia, so she might want to try your method. However, the OP should keep in mind that a significant deficit in spelling compared to grade level expectations is a huge red flag and obvious indicator of dyslexia, even if the student is otherwise able to use the various cueing systems for reading.
     
  14. fallenshadow

    fallenshadow Rookie

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    Jun 30, 2019

    Separate the words into syllables. Have him memorize them a syllable at a time.
     
  15. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I’d teach the types of syllables. There are several programs out there that teach them, but all you’d really need are word lists and letter tiles.
     
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  16. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    If you see strong results from a phonic approach to teaching spelling, then I say more power to you.

    With less than 50% of English words which can be accurately sounded out using phonic rules, the massive amount of time I spent trying to learn them did not help me learn to spell. Some people benefit greatly from the study of phonics—especially emergent readers. My experience shows me that some people are excellent spellers and some are not. It's like teaching someone to sing well—lessons will work well for some people, but others just don't have it.

    The research I'm using is the past performance of my students. For over 20 years, I used whatever spelling program our district adopted. At the end of the year, my strong spellers were strong and my weak spellers were weak. This is still the case, but now my weak spellers are strong writers.

    If you see the phonic approach to teaching spelling is working well, then go for it. If it shows limited effectiveness, uses lots of instructional time, and leaves dyslexic children feeling vaguely like failures: it may be time to seek a different approach.
     
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