Robert E. Rubenstein suggests that the technique he uses to help his Eugene, Oregon, middle school students spell correctly in their written work could be used with students as young as 3rd grade. The need for an improved method of teaching spelling occurred to Rubenstein when he realized that although most of his students successfully memorized their spelling words for the customary weekly quiz, they did not often transfer this knowledge to their writing.
Finding errors in text
Since the ultimate purpose of correct spelling is accurate writing, Rubenstein developed a quiz which tests the ability of students to find and correct misspelled words located within a text.
Rubenstein begins each week by reviewing 10 new words with his class. Spelling patterns and potential problems with spellings are discussed. On Friday, students take a “proof-reading” quiz by “editing” one or two paragraphs in which the 10 new words appear along with several words from previous weeks and any punctuation or grammar recently covered in class. Quiz words may be correctly or incorrectly spelled in the paragraphs, and it is up to the student to identify and correct at least 10 errors in spelling and/or grammar. (Each quiz actually contains more than 10 errors, and students can earn extra credit by finding and correcting the additional errors). Immediately afterward, the quiz papers are redistributed among students for correction and discussion.
Rubenstein finds that spelling is made more interesting for both student and teacher when taught his “proof-reading” way. He feels that the more carefully prepared writing assignments which his students now submit are evidence of their improved spelling skills.
“Spelling to Write Well” Curriculum Review February 1990, p. 19-20.
Published in ERN September/October 1990 Volume 3 Number 4