Individualized spelling?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 773 Miles Away, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. 773 Miles Away

    773 Miles Away Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2010

    My class this year has such a WIDE range of abilities! I teach 5th grade, but I have students reading at a 1st grade level and students reading at a 6th grade level. The spelling test seems foolish because its the same words for all. I've heard of teachers individualizing the spelling for each student... some even having students create their own lists based on words from their writing etc... but how do you assess this?? I certainly can't take kids one at a time aside to quiz them... and I'm assuming that's not how it's done...


    Thoughts?
     
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  3. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Oct 5, 2010

    My kids have individual spelling lists. I give 3 pretests on Monday (3 diff. levels); students' lists are made up of words they miss on the pretest and words from their personal spelling notebook (we use a comp. book with one page for each letter). As for their tests, my kids do partner tests. They are responsible for making sure their partner can say every word on their list before they start. They take their jobs as test givers VERY seriously, and so far it has worked well.
     
  4. cruiserteacher

    cruiserteacher Comrade

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    Oct 5, 2010

    I just started Word Journeys this year with my fifth graders, and I am so glad I'm doing it! I was so bored with my "normal" spelling activities, where they were just expected to memorize the words. This year, I assessed all students and all fell within three categories. The spelling lists are based on specific features (low spellers are working on beginning consonant blends, the middle spellers are working long a sound spelled ei and ai, and the high spellers are working on adding -ed to words). They are given a new feature each week and a spelling test on Friday in addition to a tic-tac-toe weekly homework. The spelling tests are written. I give a sentence with the word underlined, either spelled correctly or incorrectly. They have to identify if the word is spelled right or wrong, and if it is wrong, they have to write the word correctly on the line. I bought the Word Journeys book as part of an undergrad class, I would be willing to bet there are copies floating around your building!
     
  5. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Oct 5, 2010

    We do buddy study... their partner gives them the test.
     
  6. Ladybug Teacher

    Ladybug Teacher Companion

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    Oct 5, 2010

    773 Miles Away (I love your name)...I've been giving two different tests each week but wishing I could do something even more differentiated. I thought if I started more groups I would use Spelling City (the audio test on there) so the kids could all take a test at once. I'm not sure if this will work out or not, but I want to give it a try.

    Cruiserteacher...this sounds like it would be ideal for my group. Is the whole book made up of lists you can use? I was browsing it a bit on Amazon. You are giving three lists each week? Thanks for the information!
     
  7. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Oct 6, 2010

    Can the students keep individual dictionaries of words they have misspelled in their writings and words they had to look up in the dictionary in order to spell.If you decide to give different level spelling tests they might also add any misspelled words to their list.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 6, 2010

    I use Words Their Way (Donald Bear et al)...Based on a pre-assessment, my students are in 4 spelling 'groups' based on their spelling developmental levels. They work in their groups all week doing word work/word sorts based on their pattern. I give 4 spelling tests simultaneously on Fridays. In addition to 12 words from the sort, each student is tested on 3 words they have chosen as their personal words. I let partners switch lists and 'test each other' on these words.
     
  9. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Oct 6, 2010

    I also use Words Their Way and highly recommend it. The nice thing is that you can buy the curriculum and supplements on amazon and they are fairly inexpensive. Really, you only need this http://www.amazon.com/Words-Their-Way-Vocabulary-Instruction/dp/013223968X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1286420332&sr=8-1 book and can buy the word sort books or make the word sorts yourself to save money. I teach 4th grade and the 5th grade teacher and I were able to work together to form and teach 7 ability-based groups between our classes this year. I used this last year with my students for the first time (only 4 groups) and their spelling improved immensely. I would never go back to a standard "one size fits all" test again.
     
  10. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Oct 6, 2010

    I also pair the students up with someone from their group (which ensures they can read each other's words) and they give each other the test at the end of the week.
     
  11. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Oct 6, 2010

    The only question I have with doing this is, aren't the students supposed to know the material for their grade? For example, if you give a 5th grader first grade spelling words for their test their grade isn't based on what they should know for 5th grade... I hope I explained that clearly enough.
     
  12. cruiserteacher

    cruiserteacher Comrade

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    Oct 7, 2010

    There are lists in the appendix Word Journeys book. It would also not be hard to come up with some lists of your own based on the feature of the week. The author of the book (Ganske) also has two word sort books. I'm not sure what the title of those are, but those are nice because they have the sorts all ready for you. Our literacy consultant bought those two books for us when she found out some of us were doing a word study program this year. Good luck!
     
  13. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2010


    This is a really good question, and one for which I do not have a perfect solution. What I do know is that if a student is truly working at a first grade level, it is cruel and unusual punishment to require him/her to memorize a list of 5th grade level words each week! Not to mention that the child will learn/retain/understand absolutely nothing from it.

    I'd ask you to think about reading, as nearly all elementary schools do guided reading. Of course, in the case of reading, a child must work with his/her appropriate level of text. As teachers, we would not ask a child to read through a 5th grade level books if this student can only decode consonant-vowel-consonant words. What we would do in reading is have the child access the fifth grade text in other ways, such as through an audio cd, teacher read-aloud, or buddy reading Yet, he/she would still work with 1st grade level materials for a substantial portion of the literacy block. It is the same with spelling.

    In spelling, the child works with and studies first grade words. This is necessary to build the foundation and to progress to fifth grade level words in time. However, the child can be expected to spell fifth grade level words that are on a class word wall or on a 100 most common word lists that you place in her writing notebook. In addition, this child might keep a spelling dictionary where you write down words that he requests to refer to on assignments. In this way, the child is still learning at his/her first grade level, but is also held accountable for important 5th grade words.


    For reporting purposes, our school uses a system in which we report simply whether the child is not meeting, nearly meeting, meeting, or exceeding the benchmark in each area. There is also a mark for effort in the area. So, in the case of spelling, a student working with first grade level words would certainly be marked "not meeting benchmark" if he/she was in 5th grade. However, if he/she is working hard to learn these first grade words, studying them, and passing tests, then he/she would likely be marked very high in effort. Is this a perfect system? No. But hopefully in this way, teachers can meet students where they are while still reporting an accurate measure of both their ability and progress.

    Hope this helps!
     
  14. glitterfish

    glitterfish Comrade

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    Oct 8, 2010

    *When I say the child is held accountable for 5th grade level words, I don't mean that the child has these words memorized. Rather, you have taught this student strategies for how to find and use the correct spelling of the word when needed. This makes sense because, even as an adult, we almost always have access to spelling tools in our professional work. In our state, starting this year, students can even use the spell checker when completing their state writing assessments. So, it is important for us as teachers to not only teach students how to learn spelling patterns at their level, but also how to independently check spelling that is difficult for them.
     
  15. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Oct 8, 2010

    I did this for several years.

    Group 1 would start with 7 words; group 2 would have those words plus some words in the same word families. Group 3 would have all of these words, plus some words from a theme we were covering. Everyone would have the same extra credit "challenge" words, 2-3.

    This worked really well. Group 1 would drop out when they had finished their words, Group 2 when they had finished their words, and then Group 1 would wrap it up. Then everyone would do the challenge words, if they chose to.

    This was a neat set up in first, because everyone had the opportunity to be successful. Kids would move to the next group once they got 100% on their test and the next group's test. They motivated themselves to move up! It was very interesting.
     

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