Quality spelling instruction

iStock_000003219917XSmallWhile reading instruction has become greatly enriched with diverse literature, some educators believe that schools have not improved spelling instruction to match.

Much of what is known about spelling is not being put into practice, write Glen Thomas and Nancy Sullivan, California Department of Education. They suggest that the following three principles can help teachers provide quality spelling instruction linked to a strong literature- and language-rich reading program:

1. Provide frequent opportunities for meaningful writing. Let kindergarten and beginning first-grade students use temporary spelling.

2. Begin organized spelling instruction no later than the end of first grade. Teach strategies such as rules for adding suffixes, emphasizing rules that apply to large numbers of words. When spelling lists are used they should be kept short and organized around sound themes or common parts to encourage sound-to-spelling connections. Provide individualized lists as needed to improve spelling strategies.

3. Give students plenty of opportunities to edit their own writing. Mistakes should be tolerated in drafts, but children should be held responsible for correct spelling in final projects. Students should keep lists of commonly misspelled words.

“Whatever Happened to Spelling?” Thrust for Educational Leadership Volume 25, Number 2, October 1995 pp.12-45

Published in ERN January/February 1996 Volume 9 Number 1

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