FAQ's Relating to Students
How does a word study program differ from a spelling program?
The Spelling Scholar brings together best practices such as discovery learning, mass practice of new skills, distributed practice of past learning, word sorting, games, study of etymology, and applied spelling across the curriculum.
Dictionary basics are introduced in the primary grades through games and activities meant to excite a love of words. At the higher levels, students learn how to read word origins and understand how the history of the word affects its modern meaning through the study of word prefixes, roots, and suffixes from Greek, Latin, and other languages.
Students don't depend on memorization of lists. Rather, they understand how words are built and apply this knowledge in the program assessments and in their daily writing.
Can students construct knowledge about letters, patterns, and meaning?
Lessons focus on one skill or pattern at a time and progress from basic letter-sound relationships to patterns to meaning chunks. Children discover the spelling pattern or rule under the teacher’s guidance and analyze and practice with a large number of words that follow the pattern.
How can students use a spelling notebook effectively?
In order to establish a link between word study and correct spelling in all work across the curriculum, students maintain a word study notebook. Primary students focus on and practice high frequency words. Intermediate students and more capable primary students build a personal list from words misspelled in daily work. Students select five words from their personal list to study for each unit test.
In addition to the personal word list, the binder or notebook will also include a reference section to which students add rules and patterns they learn, loose-leaf paper for written sorts and word hunts, and other spelling projects or activities.
Will my students apply spelling to daily writing?
In The Spelling Scholar children analyze and focus on patterns and rules. They may still misspell words in their writing due to lack of the application of a rule or pattern they have studied. The teacher can note in the margin that the “y rule” or “silent e rule” would have applied here. Gradually, students see the connection between the spelling they study in spelling class and the spelling they do in their writing. Spelling errors can be pointed out using the vocabulary of the rules and patterns. Students come to rely on their experience with the rules and patterns more and more as they make decisions about spelling, reading and writing.
FAQ's Relating to Teachers
How can I encourage my students to care about spelling?
The Spelling Scholar program encourages conversation about spelling in written work throughout the curriculum. The program teaches a vocabulary that allows students and teachers to communicate ideas about spelling in a meaningful way. Students are aware of spelling because misspellings in daily work are noted in their personal words list. They are consistently reminded of how their misspellings apply to patterns or rules already learned. All skills are brought back in review sections of units and tests throughout the year.
How can I easily manage differentiation in my classroom?
All students are taught the core skill using the discovery page of the unit. Most students complete the practice pages in the grade level unit while some will benefit from using pages from a previous grade level that practice the same skill . Students will then sort words based on that skill. Three levels of word sorts allow the teacher to provide words that fit the needs of each child. Level A sort words are easier, Level B words are at grade level, and Level C words provide a challenge and emphasize vocabulary building using the pattern or skill. The program includes games that may be used to practice, review, or re-teach skills.
Can I strengthen my own knowledge of word structure?
The teacher page provides background for the teacher on word structure, rules, and reasons for why words are spelled the way they are. In addition, this page gives unit objectives, common errors, teaching suggestions, and the "Launch Pad" which includes websites for student practice, games, and units from previous grade levels that teach the same skill.
What can I test besides a memorized list?
Tests begin with a place for students to write their five word personal list. The remainder of the test applies the rule or pattern taught in the unit. For example, if students studied the silent "e" rule, the test includes entire base words ending in silent "e" plus suffixes to add correctly. The emphasis here is application of the skill rather than memorization so students can apply their knowledge to a wider range of words. Where a pattern has been taught, the remaining letters of a word may be given and the student decides which spelling is correct. With the "ou" and "ow" patterns, the test item may be "sh___er." Students write the word with the correct pattern based on their knowledge of where those patterns are found in words.
The last part of the test assesses skills taught in previous units based on the review section of the current unit. In this way, students are held accountable for past learning as well as new learning.
What difference does word origin make?
English spelling is not as irregular and full of exceptions as we are led to believe once word histories and origins are understood. The development of language reflects the history of the people. The Spelling Scholar ties the history, origin, and meaning of roots to the spelling of words. Word histories are introduced in third grade. Fourth graders are introduced to Greek and Latin roots through poster projects. These connect the meaning of the root to many words that contain the root. Fifth and sixth graders study words based on these roots in more depth and are held accountable for their spelling.
Other Articles and Sources
Developmental-Spelling Research: A Systematic Imperative by Marcia Invernizzi, Reading Research Quarterly, April/May/June 2004
Word Study Instruction in the K-2 Classroom, by Cheryl Williams, et.al., The Reading Teacher, April, 2009
Questions Teachers Ask About Spelling by Shane Templeton, Reading Research Quarterly, January/February/March 1999