Friday, August 29, 2008

Teaching Spelling

When teaching spelling, I use a spelling inventory to assess the sounds that my students need to work on, and then build weekly wordlists around these sounds. I currently have 5 spelling groups. All students begin with the same 5 core words (taken from a high frequency spelling list) and then 5 focus words on the sound they need to practice.

This week for example, my core words are: happy, he, her, his, him.
One student is working on tricky Olympics words relating to gymnastics: gymnast, gymnastics, gymnasium, routine, apparatus. One student is working on 'ew' words; 6 are working on 'oa' words; 5 are working on consonant blend beginnings with digraph endings eg. crush; and 7 are working on short vowel sounds with the 'ub' family.

During the week my students talk about strategies to help them remember how to spell these words eg. 'his' is just 'is' with an h at the start. They practice writing these with appropriate letter formation, and we build sentences with these words. Toward the end of the week we have a quiz where students are grouped in mixed-ability groups and compete with other groups to spell the words I call out. I give each group a mini whiteboard and marker and I encourage them to help one another with the spelling. I number students off so that everyone gets a turn with the marker. I try to ensure that my weaker spellers all have the same number so that I can given them an easier word. On Friday I test students with their words to determine whether they have learnt the new words.

This seems to be working for me with the group I have this year. In the past, I have gone for completely individualised lists for all students, but I found this took up A LOT of my time, and I found that kids with the same level of ability generally struggled with the same words anyway! At other times the spelling lessons have been less teacher-controlled, which was nice, but you need to consider how much direction/freedom your students require. It's often great to have kids explore their words with playdough or magnetic letters - again, do what works with the group of kids.

Please comment with any of the activities you have found useful for helping kids to learn graphophonics and spelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please don't be shy...