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To Get Kids to Master Spelling, Adjust Instruction

Fifth-grade teacher Lisa Brown at West Bloomfield Scotch Elementary has created innovative spelling activities to help students learn how the way a word sounds relates to its spelling, rather than instruct them to simply memorize a list.

“Although children are still expected to learn words at their grade level, spelling is integrated into the teaching of English language arts rather than separated as has been the case for many years,” reports Diana Dillaber Murray in the Oakland Press.

One activity Brown has her class does it make lists of words that have similar sounds, such as th, ch, ny and mp (ex: “then and there, camp and champ,” “chair and chance”). The activity promotes awareness of the combination of letters and their corresponding sounds.

Michele Farah, a literacy consultant at the Oakland Schools Learning Services Department, is currently working on “a new program to help teachers with methods of including spelling in the new Common Core curriculum.” She also notes how studies are showing the more children read and write, the better their spelling becomes.

While there is still a list of words students need to know, “it is the manner in which they are taught the words and how to use them that ensures mastery,” notes Lisa Brown. The more a student uses the words they learn in their own reading and writing, the sooner they will retain the spelling.

“...Spelling is included under a broader umbrella of writing. Beginning in kindergarten, students learn to spell high-frequency words--those words that are used most frequently in writing,” says Lori Grein, the director of the Rochester Community School district’s community relations and foundation.

Read the full story.

By Samantha DiMauro, Education World Contributor

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