Sunday, 2 December 2012

Original Lesson 31: How I'm Helping My Struggling Spellers

Recently, I implemented a daily spelling support group in my class that has worked with suprising ease and efficiency. I chose five students who are my most struggling spellers, although in hindsight I could have chosen at least seven without dramatically increasing the workload around this program.

Every day, at some point when I find a few spare minutes, I run my spelling group. Generally as a teacher, there are very few spare minutes in the day. However, I can usually spare the time at some point during writing hour when the class is working fairly independently.

I simply call to the floor my spelling group, read out from the Single Word Spelling Test the next 10 words on the levelled list the students are working from, and then correct the words immediately. That night, students write down any words they spelt incorrectly during our pre-test session five times.

I am also thinking about introducing tasks such as using the words in sentences or looking up meanings they don't know (although we briefly discuss word meanings in-context while I am administering the pre-test). I may also introduce fun tasks like bubble writing and choo-choo spelling as the program goes on, but for now I've kept it very straightforward.

The next day, the process repeats. If the student hasn't written the incorrect words on their practice page five times, they stay in at recess to complete it. Most of the students grasped very quickly that this was a support group and we are doing it because we want to improve our spelling, so generally they are very good at consistently practising the words and bringing their books between home and school on a daily basis. (By the way, they do use designated books specifically for this program and I established how to rule up the pre-test and practice pages at the very start day of it, which I think has contributed significantly to its ease of administration so far).

This may seem a very archaic and simplistic program. However, every week students are pre-testing on 50 words. Since I have a good knowledge of the students, generally they get an average of 5 words incorrect. That is 25 words per week they are practising spelling which prior to that they had been spelling incorrectly; in addition to my whole-class spelling program in which they also still engage. In addition, the words are based on spelling patterns (from the Single Word Spelling Test), as such they are learning not only individual words but also the patterns into which they need to group words to grow into better spellers.

Over a term, that is an additional 250 words. Over a year, 1,000. That's a drastic difference to my below-standard spellers sourcing from a program that, thus far, has caused me to expend exceedingly little time and effort.

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