Spelling. Sigh..... love or hate relationship? For many teachers, it is that black and white. I've traded in the weekly lists and spelling tests for more meaningful practices that focus more on words in context- during reading and writing lessons.
The kids love it! Interactive Spelling is a tag phrase I'm making up, at least I don't think anyone has the rights to it!!! It it pretty self-explanatory; after reading a text together, you revisit some key words with your students to analyze them. Here's what we did in my class this week.....
First I read There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colandro, an adorable story with a repeating sentence pattern. (I'm sure you know about this series of books based on the classic, I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly). Temperatures here are starting to cool off (although we don't get snow) and I wanted to get my kids in the "winter" spirit. I only have them for two weeks on December; our break starts on the 12th! I get 3 weeks off- an international school perk- long winter break!!!!
Sorry, back to my post...
As I read the story, I stopped briefly here and there to discuss the vocabulary ("What's the difference between a stick and a branch?"). Not only does this contextual discussion help my EAL students, but it helps all of them to think more deeply about the story and its vocabulary.
The next day, after we discussed the story and retold it, I showed my kids the chart I had made ahead of time, highlighting the most important content words. They were a fabulous collection of words with digraphs and consonant clusters (consonant blends).
I have found that time spent on teaching students about digraphs gets you the best spelling returns! Don't wait to teach them about digraphs until after you gone through single-letter phonemes and short vowels- they need to be able to recognize digraphs early on in their reading journey because the English language is FULL of them!
As you can see, I wrote a dash for each single letter grapheme and a box with two lines in it for digraphs (to reinforce the idea of 2 letters representing 1 phoneme).
As a group, we announced (read out loud) each word and then used onset-rime to segment each word. I teach my kids to use their hands to do this:
Next, we repeat this gesture, and I ask the kids, "What letter or letters could we write?" I also prompt them to FEEL what their tongue, lips and mouth are doing because usually each movement signals a different phoneme, and consequently, a different grapheme (letter/digraph); I teach them to "feel the phonemes", rather than to "sound it out". Trying to decipher what you are hearing is a lot harder than to notice than what you are feeling.
When modelling this for your students, you might say, "When I pronounce /sn/, I feel /s/ and /n/; I could write <s> and <n> for those phonemes. When I pronounce /o/, I feel a long o phoneme. I can show that in different ways, but for this word I know I need to write the digraph, /ow/."
We went through all of the words, using the onset-rime hand gestures, and I invited all of my friends to take turns sharing the pen (who does love that?) to come up and spell the words.
Through this one lesson, we were able to apply two long o digraphs, silent e to signal a long vowel, CVC patterns for words, and knowledge of compound words (snowman) to spelling. The whole lesson took all of 10-15 minutes and was super easy to prep.
I'll leave this book out in our classroom library for them to reread again and again. Having helped to construct those words together in a meaningful context, I am confident that they'll know how to read them, and perhaps, even transfer their spellings into their own writing.
Do you use interactive writing or spelling in your class?