Spelling

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    (The other spelling post made me think of something that I have been meaning to ask!)

    Does anyone not give weekly spelling tests? I have used Words their Way for the past 3 years, and I feel like it's just too much. I have a difficult time keeping up with it, and I don't really see the growth that I would expect in my students.

    This year I was thinking of doing something a bit different. I want to try to stick to the true Daily 5 model of having mini-lessons between rounds. Once per day, one of my mini-lessons would be devoted to a specific phonics/spelling pattern.

    For example, on Monday we may focus on ay/ai. Then I would introduce the children to a word list that contains words that follow that spelling pattern. There would be a variety of words for differentiation. These would be the words that they would practice during word work time. Then, each day during our mini-lesson, we we do some sort of activity that involved the pattern.

    Of course, I will have to do some assessing so that I know if students are grasping the patterns. Perhaps a monthly or bi-weekly assessment?

    I just don't know if this type of program would be intense enough for students to really grasp the skills. They would not have homework, or words to memorize. What do you think? Does anyone do something similar for spelling?
     
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  3. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Several years ago the school I worked at did away with spelling tests school-wide. I loved it! The parents hated it. They had a really hard time understanding why we didn't give spelling tests, even though we explained we were focusing on learning patterns and rules instead of memorizing a list. The backlash from parents was so strong, we ended up going back to giving spelling tests second semester. This was at an inner city school.
     
  4. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Spelling isn't really taught at my school now. Our parish made the decision to integrate it into writing. In theory they teach it through writing. Some grades do. I know for a fact that the 4th grade ELA teacher doesn't.
     
  5. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    How interesting! I am a bit worried about feedback from parents. They really do seem to love weekly tests.
     
  6. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    My spelling tests focus on a specific pattern each week like, as you mentioned, ah/ai. They have homework from a menu as well as center work to reinforce it. In guided reading, we also stop to point out words that fit our spelling pattern for the week (and usually the previous week's pattern as well), rather than the specific spelling words. I consider the test a reflection of whether they learned the spelling pattern rather than a list of words.

    ETA - I meant ay/ai, lol. I think autocorrect did me in, there. :)
     
  7. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I wish I could do that, but it's a school-wide requirement-even in Kinder where we don't even have real grades. :(

    I also feel like spelling tests are a tremendous waste of time. A student will get a word right Friday morning and then spell the same word wrong an hour later in their writing. There's no retention. I think spelling is one of those skills that grow the more you read and see the words in print (I still do that, I'll read a word and say "that's how you spell that?". There are so many exceptions to spelling rules in English, it's hard for them to master so young.
     
  8. LMichele

    LMichele Cohort

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    Jul 4, 2014

    This is how I am approaching spelling this year as well.
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    That's kind of the philosophy that I'm going by-the more exposure they have to words, through reading and writing, the better they will be at spelling. I just don't know if it's a good philosophy, though, or if some kids will need more direct practice. However, I think I could pull small groups during guided reading time if I notice that some kids are really struggling with a certain pattern.

    I agree, though, that some kids will spell a word correctly one day, and then get it wrong on the test. It's so frustrating. Plus, we don't even grade spelling, so the weekly tests really are just for me to check and see if they are grasping the skill. I feel like I don't need a test to show their progress. Holding reading and writing conferences will tell me that.
     
  10. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    When I was in 5th, my team went to our P with research and got her to buy us Wordly Wise vocabulary books and we focused on vocabulary instead of spelling. Loved it!


    When required to teach spelling, I much prefer the Orton-Gillingham method because they don't study and memorize words only to forget them.
    The Orton-Gillingham approach is easiest to start in K. But their philosophy is that you teach them the letter sound/digraph/blend and assess them on it. You don't give a spelling list for them to study. They have to be able to encode the words by hearing the sounds. They have a strategy called finger tapping that you teach. So, at the end of K you have done the 26 letters and the digraphs ch, sh, soft th, and hard th. (Maybe a few consonant blends, too.) So those kids should be able to spell words like 'chat', 'hop', 'mug', 'bash', etc... without a problem. The test wouldn't necessarily only focus on the sound most recently taught- it should incorporate any sounds already taught. Then they suggest having a few 'red words'. Red words don't fit spelling words (the), so you would actually send home 2-5 (depending on grade level) on Monday for them to study. So, for 2nd grade, I would do a 20 word test. 3-5 red words and the rest based on the sounds they have already learned.
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    We are going to move to Words their Way in a few years...I do believe kids should have differentiated lists, but what I do is focus on a spelling pattern each week, but then differentiate within reading groups, depending on what the leveled reader is that we are doing in the group and the word patterns...
     
  12. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    My school did away with spelling tests long before I even started teaching there four years ago.
     
  13. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    This is what we do also. I've gotten some of the teachers to allow my students to do the same pattern for several weeks at a time (one week is simply not enough for them to master it), and I've seen growth in those students. However, this is more work on the teacher and some aren't willing to do it.

    I'm not surprised at the backlash from parents mentioned in another post either. I think spelling is the one thing that parents can hold on to that is the same as they were in school- you get a list and you can memorize it and get a good grade at the end of the week. I have tons of parents talking in meetings about how they do all this work at home with the weekly spelling list, and insist the kids know the words at home but then don't get good grades on this test. A lot of these students aren't really readers yet and frankly spelling is not one of my biggest concerns for them, but I can't get parents away from seeing it as the most important thing of the week.
     
  14. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    For those of you who don't give spelling tests, have you noticed any difference in students' spelling? Giraffe, I looked up Wordly Wise. Is giving tests part of the program, or just something your school adds?
     
  15. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    I use the program spelling patterns every week and yes, give a weekly spelling test (also spelling dictation). 10 with a pattern, 2 review words, and 3 "challenge" words (beginning spellers are just responsible for the 10 patterned words)...
    In my JOBS time, which last for about 1 hour, the kids have one spelling activity they must do and then have a couple of spelling activities that we call EXTRAS (activities that can be completed when all JOBS are finished.) (write spelling words on iPAD, giving each other spelling tests, wt....)
    Mondays, we learn the pattern, discuss meaning and jump/kick/squat the spelling of each word:) We then read a story that contains the spelling pattern and kids work in partners to find the patterned words.
    Tuesdays, it is highlighting the pattern and cutting up the words.
    Wednesdays, it is putting the words in ABC order.
    Thursdays, it is sorting and classifying then gluing the words into their particular pattern. The second half of the year, my higher kids like to create stories around their spelling words...
    Homework is a bit of spelling practice each night with different activities...
    I am not a huge fan of spelling tests for all the reasons mentioned above...But it takes 25 minutes out of our Friday and parents like it.
    So we do it.
     
  16. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Tests?

    Research shows that memorizing words for a spelling test does not improve spelling. So my teachers, as a team, researched some vocabulary programs because we felt this was a bigger need. Worldly Wise is set up with multiple lessons with activities and practice that repeat with each lesson. We did assess them after each lesson (5-7 days). They had to apply their knowledge of the words in multiple ways, and it included multiple meanings, synonyms, antonyms, etc... We actually saw such an improvement that my P ordered it for K-5 and required everyone to use it. Most grade levels still taught spelling in addition to the vocabulary.
     
  17. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I think I figured out my confusion about tests. The second part of my post, about Orton-Gillingham, elaborated on something I posted in the other spelling thread. I went and added a bit so hopefully it is less confusing.
     
  18. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    I'm a fan of spelling tests (if the weekly tests follow a spelling rule/pattern).

    Each Monday, I'd introduce the spelling pattern for the week (for example the oi/oy sound).

    Throughout the week, we'd read stories in our Phonics Library books that focused on the oi/oy sound. Our homework would also focus on the oi/oy sound.

    In short, we'd work on the spelling pattern throughout the week (via mini-lessons).

    Side note: Kids who scored well on Monday's pre-test would get the "challenge list" assigned to them (which would also focus on more difficult words with oi/oy).
     
  19. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I used a variation of this approach last year.
    - no weekly tests
    - no words lists
    - no pattern study
    - same amount of spelling growth by the end of the year

    In instead of spending so much time studying spelling, we spend the time writing. Each week, my students need to produce some piece of "publishable" writing that goes up on the wall. Of course, if it's on the wall, it can't have spelling errors.
     
  20. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I can't say I notice a "difference" since I've never given spelling tests, but I can say I see their spelling improve throughout the year without giving tests. We do a lot of writing and students have personal word walls where we add the words they need for their work that they are spelling wrong repeatedly. They are responsible for taking out the word walls and using them when needed. When I look at their work from September to June there is an obvious difference. This begins to transfer into work they do without even taking out their word wall.
     
  21. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    That's an interesting approach, Tyler, thanks for sharing.

    I think I'll still have word lists for word work time that follow the pattern of the week, which we'll practice during phonics mini-lessons. I'm excited to try this out! I'm glad my district allows us to do whatever we want to do (which may change in the future...).
     
  22. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I think having students apply the patterns with unknown words helps spelling growth far more than tests. Every week, I have some type of assignment where students work with the pattern using words that aren't on their spelling list.
     
  23. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Giraffe, are students tested weekly with OG? My plan was to follow the OG scope-and-sequence in the Recipe for Reading book. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I was going to do a mini-lesson on the skill. On Tuesday and Thursday I was going to focus on Red Words. Would a bi-weekly or monthly test be realistic?

    I know a little bit about the program, and have some of the materials. However, I don't think I have the time in my schedule to do the whole routine. I love it, but my district hasn't been sold on it yet, so I have tons of other things I have to fit in.
     
  24. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    OG doesn't specifically tell you when/how often to do it. My trainer shared what she did in her classroom, and she did weekly tests. It would depend on how you focus on sounds and how much time you spend on it.
     
  25. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    How is this different from words their way?
     
  26. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Because with Words Their Way students are split up into spelling groups, and the teacher meets with each group throughout the week, similar to guided reading. I would just be teaching a spelling/phonics pattern to the entire class, and they would all practice that pattern throughout the week.
     
  27. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    If you didn't see the expected growth with words their way and this is the only difference in practice between them, are you expecting to see better results or are you just doing it because it will be easier to manage?
     
  28. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    This is very interesting to me. This is common in the retail service industry.

    I wonder how prevalent this is in the engineering field, medical field...etc.
     
  29. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Every decision I make in my classroom results from me thinking "What is best for my students?" I would never sacrifice the education of the students in my classroom because it is "easier to manage" for myself. :mad:

    I think it would be more effective to teach the same patterns to the entire class. I could refer to these patterns throughout the day, as they come up, instead of remembering which group is working with which list. Plus, some groups are so far below grade level, that they never get to the 2nd grade level lists, which doesn't really help them catch up.
     
  30. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    Ok, hope your not mad at me, you didn't really explain much about why you were changing. I read the bottom part as it was hard to manage. Thanks for clarifying.

    I would also add that I believe there can be things that may benefit the kids, but they can be too much to manage, to much time requirements,..etc and that it is not a bad thing.
     
  31. samsmom

    samsmom Rookie

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    Spelling/Recipe for Reading

    I use Recipe for Reading in a resource setting and I have to say that the spelling growth for my students is amazing. Of course they come in with the idea that they cannot spell and have rarely passed a spelling test. With parent/teacher ok, I create individual tests (which I administer and grade) based on the patterns we studied during the week. You do want to give the weekly tests so that you know whether the students are ready to move on. The tests, though, are not a memorized list; you should be able to throw in any word that follows the pattern and the students should be able to spell it correctly.

    Our district struggles with weekly spelling tests - some teachers cannot wrap their brains around the idea that research shows "traditional" spelling tests do not help students spell well. I think we could convince parents that the tests are not useful, but first we need to convince teachers!
     
  32. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    That's great to hear that Recipe for Reading is working well for you. Thanks for sharing!
     
  33. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I also use Recipe for Reading in resource and like it, but don't agree that it's an end-all-be-all. There are SO many words that don't follow patterns correctly in English. There are many words that students do just have to memorize. I find the same is true for reading. When I first started teaching I was only teaching phonics skills from Recipe for Reading as my main reading instruction for non-readers. However, once they develop to a point where they're ready to read text, they run into so many words that don't follow the patterns they've learned, and then they get really frustrated and their fluency scores typically stagnate. I had a lot more success once I started balancing the phonics lessons vs. spending a lot of time reading "real books" and getting exposure to different types of words. If I were going to do RfR as spelling, I would maybe do the patterned words as well as 1 or 2 sight words for students to memorize per week. And if one week was not enough, keep repeating the same 1 or 2 sight words until they really know how to spell them and then move on.
     

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