Why do we spend so much time teaching spelling?

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by Tyler B., Apr 2, 2012.

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  1. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    Apr 2, 2012

    Last year I did not use our district's spelling program. At year-end I gave the program's final assessment and found no difference in scores over the years I did use the program.

    What I did do:
    Every week I would have a "ticket out the door" whereby my third grade students needed to write a 30 word essay with no spelling errors. We also had major writing projects every two weeks that were "published" (Put up on the wall.) which had to be error free.

    Stopping the spelling program gave me an extra 20 minutes a day for Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) and writing projects. I'm never going back.

    Here are some research finding by Stephen D. Krashen:

    • Students who read more become better spellers
    • SSR just as effective or more effective than teaching spelling by direct instruction
    • Uninstructed students learn to spell just as well as instructed students when given time for SSR
    • Children can spell a substantial number of words they haven’t been directly taught
    • Each word taught through direct instruction requires 20 minutes of time.
     
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  3. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Aficionado

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    Apr 2, 2012

    I totally agree with this.
     
  4. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    We stopped teaching spelling a few years ago and focus on more vocabulary instead.
    Kids don't really learn their spelling words. They memorize them, pass the test, and the forget them. The don't apply them to their writing. Therefore, it is a waste of instructional time (in my opinion).
     
  5. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Fanatic

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    Tyler,

    You bring up some excellent points. I think what it shows is how great silent reading can be. I agree SSR is more important than a spelling program. I do think a spelling program with SSR can be even more beneficial. I don't think spelling instruction is "bad", I just think the benefit is limited enough that items such as SSR should not be interfered with. I use spelling instruction, but not near the amount that those silly publishers recommend. I find a little bit of direct spelling instruction is needed and helpful though.
     
  6. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    How right you are! Remember that "ticket out the door" assignment? It quickly became clear who needed help even when abundantly motivated.

    Those students received spelling strategy instruction right when they were the most curious.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  7. CFClassroom

    CFClassroom Connoisseur

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    Apr 3, 2012

    It depends on what you're teaching. I don't think you can really 'teach' spelling. You're teaching memorizing. I DO think you can and should teach word study.

    I agree there are countless benefits to SSR, but kids need explicit instruction as well.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :thumb:
     
  9. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Apr 3, 2012

    Exactly. If you're simply giving the students a list of words, and the instruction focuses on learning those words, then they are only memorizing those words. But if you are looking at a pattern, analyzing the pattern, finding examples, exceptions, and non-examples, and applying the patterns to new words, I believe there is a benefit. My students always have "cold words" on their tests--words that have the patterns we are learning, but that they haven't studied. This allows me to see who has internalized the rules, and who needs some extra practice with them.

    I also believe spelling is an area where it is important, and fairly easy, to differentiate.
     
  10. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Apr 3, 2012

    We study spelling patterns, and words that go along with our spelling patterns are our spelling words for the week. I do find it very beneficial because the students become aware of the different patterns, making them more successful when they come across an unknown word with a familiar pattern. In addition, those words are in the stories we read for the week. I find that this actually helps them become better readers.
     
  11. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I don't really see how you teach "spelling." To me "spelling" is more than just memorizing letters it's understanding vocabulary and phonics. While I agree reading makes students better spellers I don't think independent reading should completely replace direct instruction in vocabulary/phonics.
     
  12. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    We all have different teaching situations. These come with expectations from our administrators and parents.

    As for me, I find removing the spelling workbook, weekly tests and phonics, and replacing it with additional reading and writing activities, to be profoundly beneficial. Students learn the spelling anyway and get a extra dose of reading and writing.


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    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  13. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Apr 4, 2012

    I agree with what you said Tyler about spelling and weekly tests, etc. For my kids though, I love using the Sitton Spelling program because it teaches high frequency words (core words) and word patterns. It helps them in writing and reading, yet there isn't a "weekly test". Perhaps its because I'm in 2nd grade, but my kids def need something. Its been really good for my class, but I know it doesn't work for everyone.
     
  14. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Most kids earn A's and B's in Spelling. And MOST kids spell atrociously. So yes, I also believe the standard way of "teaching" Spelling is a waste of time. But TBH, what alternative is there? The learning day is already jam-packed.
     
  15. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Fanatic

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    Apr 5, 2012

    I teach grade 1, and have decided not to do a formal spelling program this year. I am still teaching spelling, though. There are no lists to memorize or weekly tests. Instead I am teaching phonices, blends, digraphs and word families. I want students to understand patterns at this point, rather then memorizing lists of words.

    They have 5 weekly sight words to learn and we use these in a variety of ways throughout the week.

    I really like the "Words Their Way" approach to spelling, because it focuses on pattern. When I taught grade 6 I used this and felt like I really 'taught' spelling for the first time.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Apr 5, 2012

    As some of you know, my 9 year old has auditory processing issues.

    She's a bright little girl, but phonics is simply lost on her. She can't sound out a word. She'll say "ccccccc-aaaaaaa-tttttt- TAP!!"

    For her, as much as it's agonizing to do, memorizing spelling is the only thing that works. Her teacher is wonderful, and gives her a modified spelling list-- and Kira still does miserably. But until we come up with something that works better, formal spelling lists are the only way she seems to be able to learn to spell.
     
  17. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    Kira deserves a teacher who will meet her academic needs. It looks like that means a memorization program.

    65% of students will learn all the grade level words with no instruction whatsoever. Their needs need to be met as well. They shouldn't have to sit through a spelling program they don't need.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  18. appleaday180

    appleaday180 Rookie

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    Apr 5, 2012

    I recently purchased a program, Samson's Classroom, that focuses solely on language arts to work on my student's spelling. Once this software comes in I will do away with "teaching spelling words" and essentially have this program tighten up their spelling skills! By having them read, they will fine tune the words the are uncomfortable with.
     
  19. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Habitué

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    I don't have a problem with software giving students practice. It should be used for students who need the extra practice with phonics.


    _______________________________________________
    favorite blogs: http://ed-is-life.blogspot.com/ and http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/
     
  20. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Apr 7, 2012

    :thumb:
     
  21. Mrs Teacher

    Mrs Teacher Rookie

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    Apr 11, 2012

    Shocking.... but yet not shocking at all! haha. If I did the same study... I may find the same results, very insightful!

    I want to tweak my spelling too. I LOVE your 30 word exit essay... just the thought that they MUST spell all the words... makes you wonder how well they can spell if they actually try.

    I'm thinking of incorporating more instruction on HOW to find the correct spelling if you don't know as well as ways to generalize spelling patterns (and be aware of exceptions).

    There's just so much to do in a day!
     
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