Spelling, Love it or Hate it?

Are you a good speller?  Or is spelling a weakness for you? Either way, why do you think that is?

Spelling has always been easy for me- I think because I'm a verbal and visual learner. Language, writing and grammar are natural strengths for me (math- not so much!) and I've always been interested in words.  I also remember my good old phonics workbooks from back in the day- did you have one of those? I'd never seen a "cot" in real life, but when I came upon that picture in my workbook I knew it was spelled with a short o!  As a visual learner I could also remember the way words looked when they were spelled correctly, so misspelled words were easy to spot.

When I began teaching, I taught my students spelling much the same way as it had been taught to me: pretest on Mondays, practice all week (especially homework) and then the test on Friday. As time went on, I noticed what most of us have probably seen- good grades on spelling tests do not necessarily equate to good spelling applied in writing. Like most of you, I've always strived to reflect on my practices and consider what methods are the most meaningful and effective for my students. I knew this way wasn't working, so I had to do something about it.

It was then that I discovered Words Their Way (one of the first editions) and got excited about the approach. After all, it made a lot of sense to teach students about spelling patterns, and it was differentiated to a students' developmental level.

It certainly seemed to be a step above the random spelling lists I had been using, so I dug in with full fervor....and got the same results. My students would ace their tests, yet fail to transfer their knowledge to their writing. They seemed to go through the motions of word sorting; they could do it, but it just wasn't that meaningful.

Frustration. Something was missing... until I encountered Real Spelling and The WordWorks Literacy Centre. It was through these resources that I first encountered the notion that phonics and spelling patterns are NOT the only critical components of proper spelling instruction, and that English spelling is actually predictable and highly ordered, not nearly as temperamental as it's know to be.

On July 1st, I'm heading to Kingston, Ontario to attend a spelling workshop offered by Pete Bowers of WordWorks, and I am so excited!!!
Click on the picture to read more about Pete!
I've been teaching spelling through inquiry for the past couple of years and while there is still room for improvement (on my part), I have seen a lot of growth in my students. They have demonstrated deeper comprehension for words and their meanings, and increased ownership for their own learning. I'm eager to share what I learn at the workshop with you in the upcoming weeks!

Coming full circle with this post.... are you a good spellers? How do you feel about teaching spelling? What methods have you used? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts- please leave a comment!
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  1. Hi Karli~Unfortunately, I go back and forth with how I feel about spelling. I am feeling my way through it. I enjoyed your post. :) I'm following via bloglovin. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

  2. I really enjoyed your post too...I am not a fan of the way I do spelling now. The series my school uses is a list of random words each week and definitely does not teach students to be good spellers. I'm going to have to check out this Real Spelling and Word Works Literacy Centre!

  3. Uh oh! I just switched to Words Their Way. Just using it for a portion of the year I noticed the "going through the motion" of word sorting. It has helped my struggling spellers but it provides little challenge for competent spellers. I'm going to check out the resources you mention you are now using. I hope you will blog about your experience at the workshop. Spelling is an area that I really am trying to improve my instruction.

    1. I will definitely let you know how the workshop goes and share what I learn!
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Okay, Karli, you've caught my attention:) I've struggled with spelling, too. I had the entire Words Their Way set but ended up giving it away. I'm definitely checking out this book. Please blog about your workshop.

    Grade ONEderful
    Ruby Slippers Blog Designs


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