Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Spelling ideas

I have to say that spelling is one of the things I've found difficult to teach this year. I was absolutely gobmacked when I met the kids and saw the huge difference in spelling ability (reading, math,... you get it) at the start of the year. I had some that didn't even know the sounds of the alphabet and some who were spelling at beginning 3rd grade level.

Obviously, the class has to have differentiated spelling lists. So every student in my class has their own list made up of core words (a pre-test was done to work out which they already know, highlighted off their list, and then each week they choose new words from those remaining), theme words (spelling pattern or topic area words) and personal words (words that they want to spell or are spelling incorrectly in their writing). Each week they are buddy tested, I mark, they highlight correct words and then go about choosing new words.

During the week, they do lots of different activities including
  • spelling board games
  • spell their words with wiki sticks, play-doh, write in sand, on whiteboards, with blocks, magnets, paint with water, trace with stencils etc
  • To make sure they are practising writing their words, as soon as they come in in the morning they do LSCWC (look, say, cover, write, check), highlighting vowels and fixing up mistakes they find when they 'check' their spelling (they do this as we are waiting for everyone to arrive)
  • Here's one of the sheets they work with. I copy onto colored paper, laminate and put in a plastic sleeve (they're easier to clean). They have their spelling book turned over beside them. They make the word with blocks while saying the letters. They check if they got it right, tick the box and mix up the letters and re-do twice more. They then write the word with a whiteboard marker in the last box. You can download this sheet by clicking the picture.
One way that I love to introduces spelling patterns is through poetry. Each week, I introduce a sound or spelling pattern with a poem. We make a class chart with words that we know that have that sound or pattern.

The next day, students are given a new poem that has the sound or two that I am focusing on. They highlight the pattern or sound (with different spellings) and illustrate the poem to show their understanding of it.

The next day they then go on a book search and brainstorm for other words that have the same pattern or sound and write them down. The better spellers are great at finding more difficult words.

And finally, on the last day they use the words they have collected to write their own poem or rhyme and share with the class (they love this part). 

Even better, we also use these poems for fluency practise! With some poems, we are able to add lots of actions to go with the words. Reading through our poems and doing the actions is a favourite activity to do if we have a couple of minutes to spare before going home or break. They can't get enough of it!

I'll grab some photos of one of my students poetry books when I go into school today. Remember to head on over to TBA's Super Spelling Linky Party for some great ideas! Sorry for the long post!