Teaching Spelling

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

  1. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Jun 29, 2019

    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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  17. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Answering a few questions here: I teach ELL (ESL) and this child is an ELL student I see daily for 30 minutes. He has been verified SpED and has an IEP. He came to us a few years ago (2nd gr. I think) but I don't know much about his schooling prior to that. He wasn't on my case load until last year, and his file doesn't reveal much. The reason I don't think he is dyslexic is because he makes his letters and numbers properly, actually has wonderful handwriting, and has had an IEP for at least 2 years. I expect dyslexia is something they have checked for, but I will ask in the fall.

    Now then, my plan is (hopefully) get a hold of his weekly spelling list and try to collaborate with his resource teachers. The problem I see is that the regular spelling lists are so far above his level that they may not focus on specific spelling/phonics patters. By 5th grade the words are multisyllabic and focus a great deal on Greek and Latin roots. ELL teachers have more freedom to teach to student needs than other teachers because addressing their needs is like playing Whack-A-Mole. Age, grade, reading level, speaking/listening levels, prior education experiences (or lack of), literacy in their first language, and a thousand other factors all play a part. I cannot spend more than one class period a week giving this child strategies for spelling, but I am also not his only teacher. I have done a lot of research into spelling and phonics, yes, even for the upper grades, and while the rules are not hard and fast they are more consistent than given credit for. I am NOT getting into a linguistic debate about this nor do I want to start one. I am filling holes, not starting from scratch. But I also don't want to teach phonics patterns and rules out of order if doing so will just complicate things for this young man. What I am asking is this: Is there a correct/best order in which to do this? I can't find an answer to this question anywhere in the books I have read.
     
  18. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Every published program has a particular scope & sequence to it. There is not one exact agreed upon order. If you have a published program to use (which is best when you are trying to teach phonics/word parts/syllables in a structured way), then follow the scope and sequence of the program. If not, then you can piece it together however you'd like. In general, you start with one-syllable words, usually CVC words. Within that instruction, you teach consonants, short vowels, digraphs, and blends. Then you teach CVCe words, or the long vowels with a silent e at the end. After that, you start to move up to two- or three- syllable words that include the same types of syllable patterns that you have already taught with the one-syllable words. Then you start to introduce more advanced syllable patterns. It would be ideal to start by assessing the student's current knowledge of word parts and syllable patterns, so that you know what skills he is lacking and can determine where to begin. Words Their Way has a spelling inventory that you can use to assess and make these determinations. Here is one random link to the assessment that I found online: https://www.warrencountyschools.org...s/160244/wtw spelling inventory.pdf?id=600944. You may want to check with the sped teachers to see if they have already administered one of these or something like it or if they are already providing some sort of instruction in this area. If he is receiving reading services through his IEP, they may already be doing this type of instruction, and you'll need to work together to make sure that it is consistent in both settings.
     
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  19. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Thank you, bella84. I plan to speak with his teachers when we go back in a few weeks. I did give him a diagnostic spelling test at the end of the year when he told me he wanted more help with spelling, but giving the test and knowing what to do with it (and where to start) are different things.
     
  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Words Their Way is a relatively inexpensive program that you or your school could purchase if nothing else is already being used or available. That would give you some guidance on where to start and in what order to teach the word parts and syllable types. It doesn't require a lot of extra materials or training like some other programs do. It is something that you could pick up, look over, and, just a few days later, start to teach.

    It looks like they have a lot of different books you can choose from, so you'd have to decide which one is the right one to start with, but after that it should be fairly simple to move forward with it.
    https://www.pearson.com/us/higher-education/series/Words-Their-Way-Series/2281883.html
     
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  21. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Just some thoughts I had. I'm wondering how much pulling him aside for Sped and ELL is effecting his learning, not that this should stop, but the periods of regular class that he is missing could be periods of English language brain building that he is missing. Also, other students' perception of him being in special classes sometimes hinders progress; this is often an invisible stigma, unnoticeable to teachers but very real to the student. He might not be bullied, but his peers might not be as sociable to him as they are to others. As a result, this might hinder his natural absorption of English. I would also be concerned with the student's self perception. Sometimes a student, within him/herself, over emphasizes such a situation, not realizing that everyone learns differently. Learning always begins as not being able to do or understand something prior to learning and for some students, it takes longer, but often that results in the brain processing the subject more thoroughly. In other words, this can be a good problem, not necessarily a bad problem.

    I would agree, spelling rules don't always have a specified order that I've seen, except for beginning with short and long vowels. The rules tend to fit picture book sentences and basic writing, but as the child moves into chapter books and advanced writing, as Tyler B. pointed out, the exceptions start to outweigh the rules causing English to be quite a confusing language to learn. In the regular classroom, I encourage students to notate words that don't follow the rules, including doing silly things, such as sending a rule breaking word to the office (the secretaries told me they look forward to this each year), or one year when teaching football fanatics, we related it to not following the coach's plan. Concerning the regular 5th grade list, perhaps including it somewhat might be helpful. I was just reading yesterday how discovering correlations among other languages and the etymology of the English word can increase spelling/vocabulary comprehension.

    I might especially be concerned that the student is obtaining sufficient language interaction. In my experience, often students who have language difficulties spend so much time focusing on individual skills (which is essential) that they miss the holistic application of those skills. This can't always be balanced during the school day: there's only so much time in the school day. These students need language interaction after school by reading, being read to, discussing, observing language, etc. In the regular classroom, getting this to occur has been challenging. TV, in my opinion and according to research I've read, doesn't do the trick. (If I recall correctly, ET learned this way, but we don't teach ET). TV helps, but kids approach TV differently than adults. Another thought...I read a newspaper article by a local college professor about 20 years ago that emphasized the importance of social situations in learning; he suggested hobbies, such as the local astronomy club, where kids interact linguistically concerning their special interest. He especially emphasized the advantage of kids and adults in conversation about the particular interest. For a 10-year-old, such an activity might be a great parent-child adventure. I remember when I was 11, I joined a music club and I also was in the AWANA club at my church--memorizing Scripture definitely increased my languaging abilities.

    At school, one procedure I like to use in the regular classroom, when I do individualized lessons, I ask the student to dictate a story to me while I type it out on the computer. The dictated story then becomes a reading/writing/spelling lesson. Students tend to talk above their reading/spelling ability.

    Just some thoughts. Hope you and your student have a great year.
     
  22. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Did you mention this to the parents at the end of last year so he could spend the summer practising?
     
  23. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    In response to the comments about spelling rules being unhelpful, I'll share this from the International Literacy Association. It's from their new brief entitled Meeting the Challenges of Early Literacy Instruction:

    English is an alphabetic language. We have 26 letters. These letters, in various combinations, represent the 44 sounds in our language. Teaching students the basic letter–sound combinations gives them access to sounding out approximately 84% of the words in English print. Of course, equal amounts of time need to be spent on teaching the meanings of these words, but the learning of these basic phonics skills is essential to becoming a fluent reader.

    You can read more here: https://www.literacyworldwide.org/d...lenges-early-literacy-phonics-instruction.pdf

    The importance of learning the "spelling rules" is of high importance, particularly for students who struggle with reading, writing, and other language-based skills. It's no longer a question. In fact, they go on further to state the following:

    The question of whether to include phonics instruction has been resolved. The answer is yes. The discussion now should be how to include phonics instruction as part of an overall literacy plan that is efficient, effective, and timely for all students.

    So, despite there being many ways to spell a sound, we do need to be teaching these rules, starting with the basics at early grades and continuing to teach the affixes and root words at upper grades. Some students will naturally pick up on this, but others do require explicit instruction.
     
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  24. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Jul 25, 2019

    This is so true. I had a student named Ricky who I was going to teach the multiplication facts no matter what. As the class moved on to geometry, Ricky was stuck with his flash cards, timed tests and study buddies. He missed geometry and never did learn his facts. Later, when doing a class review lesson, it amazed me how quickly Ricky picked up on geometry principles. How I wish I had kept him with the class!

    Some students do not respond to multiplication facts and some [like me] do not process and apply phonic rules. It's ok to be a poor speller, but not to be illiterate.
     

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