Drop in spelling tests... :-/

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by snickydog, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Dec 15, 2007

    We have weekly spelling tests, and lately my students have been struggling. I've been steadily increasing the number of words they have, and they're up to 9 words now. The past couple weeks, many of my kids have been doing poorly. I'm not sure if it's the words we're working on (sh-, ch-, and th- words... first as initial sounds, like them and short, then as final sounds, like which and rush) or what.

    We do review activities about four times a week, and the kids have daily practice in the words for homework. I read the words in context after discussing the meaning of the words, and we talk about similarities in the words (all the words end in "h", listen for the "ch" sound, etc). We haven't focused on the words in centers as much because we've been working on Young Authors stories... Normally we'd do rainbow writing, magnetic letters, more kinetic activities with the words.

    Is 9 words a lot to ask for from first graders? I should mention my kids are English Language Learners, and part of why I chose these word beginnings/endings is because I see the children making errors with these words in their writing and reading. However, they should be studying the words...
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Dec 15, 2007

    I don't think 9 words is too many, but if most of the children are doing poorly, I think I'd look at the choice of words.

    Sh, ch, and th might be too hard for right now. Maybe word family words would work better.

    That's the only thing I can think of.
     
  4. teachtech

    teachtech Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2007

    I don't think it is too many. My first grader gets 6 words and then she gets I think 6 high frequency words. The regular words she needs to practice and know. The high frequency words she has to be able to identify them off of the board (later on in the year it will be off of the word wall) and then copy them correctly. I do agree that word families may work better.
     
  5. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    Dec 24, 2007

    I would really think about WHY you're testing on the words your using.

    Are they from books you are using that week?
    Are they from poems you are chanting?
    Are they in songs you have taught?

    Testing on words in isolation is really teaching the children nothing except how to remember a word long enough to test on it.

    If you use words that you will see over and over in books and songs, then they will have a better chance of conneting with the words and actually remembering them after Friday.

    When I taught First Grade I would have the children help me pick the words from books on Monday and we would use them all week and test on Friday. They had ownership (I still had the yep / nope power) and they did great. I also found that they USED the words in their writing much more after I changed my spelling word policy.

    Kel :)
     
  6. snickydog

    snickydog Groupie

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    Dec 26, 2007

    Thank you for the input! I choose HF words with a general theme... words that my kids are seeing in their guided reading books, words they see in the community, words they should be seeing and using in their writing. (For example, if a focus is words with initial or final "st" then I might pick words like stop, first and last... the children should know stop as a Dolch word and from something like a stop sign, and first and last are used in modeled writing we do in class from time to time as well as in some ordered writing I'd like them to be trying.)

    I like the idea of having the children help choose the words. Good idea! When you have the kids choose the words with you, do they choose from a particular book (a read aloud, their GR books), or from any books they might be reading?
     
  7. MrsMikesell

    MrsMikesell Cohort

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    Dec 26, 2007

    On Monday I used to read the poem of the week, the big book of the week and the song of the week. We then picked from those...

    It made it easy because they would hear the poem, book and song over and over and over in centers. It was basically pounded into their head.

    It made it easy for me too because I just picked focus books, poems and songs for the week and my plans were done!

    Kelly :)
     
  8. Youngteacher226

    Youngteacher226 Enthusiast

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    Dec 26, 2007

    Have you ever considered Words Their Way by Donald Bear. My school uses this program for spelling instruction and it's going great! Basically, what it does is allows you to give the children a spelling inventory to see where they are in their spelling and what patterns are they "using but confusing". So you don't give the kids words that have patterns that they are not even using in their writing etc. (ex. ch words if they are not even trying to write them). Instead, you base your spelling list on what you notice in their kids writing and in their spelling inventory. So you would differentiate groups based on that and give each group their own differentiated spelling lists. The kids use the list to do word sorts, word hunts in books, writing sorts, they play games with the words etc.

    I can't go on enough about this type of spelling assessment. Check it out. He also has books you can buy along with the book mentioned above that has the words already planned out for you for each group along with the sorts, games etc.
     
  9. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Dec 26, 2007

    It's not too many words but you may look at several factors:

    Which type of words are being missed more often. Are they too similar or not similar enough?

    You said you have used your centers less. I notice a drop when I miss my center even once that week.

    We also use words they use. We do it a little differently. We don't use words they are going to be reading but instead words we predict they might need for writing.
     

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