Teaching spelling

This forum has been created to provide a non-challenging environment for teachers and parents new to using synthetic phonics.

Judy
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Teaching spelling

Post by Judy » Tue Nov 20, 2007 2:47 pm

As there have been several discussions on the topic of teaching spelling alternatives, I thought this article might be of interest.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_q ... 99220/pg_1

It seems to make sense to me but I am relatively new to this so would welcome any comments, paticularly in relation to remedial teaching.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:38 pm

From page 3 of this article -
In English, introducing all or even several of the spelling choices for a particular sound simultaneously overwhelms most students.
This is what I have found. But I believe some programmes adopt this approach and obviously, if it is successful, it will move things along more quickly. Has anyone found a way to do this without 'overwhelming' their students?

FEtutor
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Post by FEtutor » Fri Nov 23, 2007 7:03 pm

Hi Judy
It may depend on what exactly is meant by "introducing spelling choices". With my adult students, for reading purposes, I'll happily introduce all the different ways a sound is spelt and they are not overwhelmed, but find it illuminating.
But, when it comes to learning to spell a set of words, I usually get them to choose, week by week, a selection of useful words with just one way of spelling a particular sound (plus, maybe, some words with entirely different or just basic code sounds/ spellings). Now I think of it, though, with a (very) few students I have tried daft sentences containing all or most of the choices- eg In a note I told him to take a coat to stop the snow getting on his shoulders and toes- that sort of thing. OK, maybe it was just one very able, determined student.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Sat Nov 24, 2007 11:19 am

Thank you for your reply, FEtutor.

Interesting that you generally just work on one spelling of a sound for spelling purposes.

What concerns me is that there seems to be a lack of clarity about whether to teach multiple spellings of one phoneme together (for spelling purposes) or whether to work on them singly - or in pairs where a clear pattern can be seen.

Letters and Sounds does not seem to give clear guidance. On p.147 (phase 5) an array of spelling alternatives for one phoneme are set out in a table with guidance (1 -5) about pointing out the frequency of use of the various alternatives, drawing attention to patterns and using 'scratch-sheet' spelling to, hopefully, recognise the correct spelling. But then point 6 simply states 'The children then learn the correct spelling.'

I think that with so little guidance, we are likely to end up with much better readers but almost as many poor spellers as at present.

I would like to hear from anyone who has experience of teaching spelling alternatives, whether in the classroom, in a remedial setting, or at home, to determine what works best for ALL children.

This is the one aspect of Synthetic Phonics which has always been unclear to me - maybe I have missed something?

mtyler
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Post by mtyler » Sat Nov 24, 2007 4:50 pm

I think that there is probably not one way that is best for all children. The slow and steady method, one spelling at a time, will probably work for many children, especially children who have struggled and failed with systems that try to cover more words more quickly.

My daughter has no sense of failure to overcome, but I have certainly found that one spelling at a time works best. It is word specific, that is, she is still not gathering spelling information from her reading, but that is not something that I can control. The only thing I can do is teach the patterns in such a way that what I teach, she learns. She is getting better at narrowing what options she picks. She generally picks legal options, though it is by chance if she gets it right for words we have not studied.

I think incorporating a discussion of the patterns can also be helpful. For example, this week we are studying words with 'ey' for the sound /ae/. I had my daughter read through the words and tell me if she saw any patterns. She noted that most of the words used 'ey' at the end of the word, except in the words conveyor and surveyor. We then discussed that the words convey and survey use the pattern at the end and how conveyor and surveyor related to these root words. I am hopeful that by doing this, she will start to see patterns in her reading. I'm trying to give her a way to pay attention to words.

Melissa
Minnesota, USA

Judy
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Post by Judy » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:05 pm

Melissa wrote:
I'm trying to give her a way to pay attention to words.
I find that's what I am constantly trying to do, especially as most of my pupils don't appear to have ever done this before.
I think that there is probably not one way that is best for all children
I agree that some children might well cope with being introduced to multiple spelling choices all together, just as some children learn to read no matter how they are taught, or even without explicit teaching. But it seems to me that the objective of teaching synthetic phonics in all our schools is to eliminate, as far as possible, the tail end, who fail to learn at present. So surely this must apply to spelling as much as to reading?

The Sounds~write spelling results look very impressive and I wonder how they achieve that? Do they teach multiple spelling options together, as Letters and Sounds appears to do? If so, how to they make this 'digestible' to the strugglers?

I have no experience of teaching SP in the classroom so I would welcome information or opinions from others who have.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:18 am

I am really mystified as to why there has been so little response to this important question. :???:

Can it be that everyone is too busy thinking about Christmas? :grin:

Anna
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Post by Anna » Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:49 am

Hi Judy,

Firstly thanks for suggesting this forum - I am finding the discussions very interesting and useful! :grin:

I have some thoughts on this but it will require quite a long and detailed email. I have several reports to write on pupils this week but once that is complete I will try to post in more depth.

I'd dearly like to hear from others with more SP experience though, as like you I also find spelling the harder nut to crack for most pupils - once I have got children up and running with reading. Maybe you need to flag up this discussion on the main forum?

I think that possibly the issue with tutoring *may* not be so much the methodology so much as the time factor. Some pupils definitely *do* need the spower apprach of Apples and Pears etc but others will cope and progress with more spelling variations at once, as you have found. Either way, lots of repetion and writing is needed, I feel and that it what is hard with tutoring.

Plus, we are working with older pupils, who haven't had the early SP teaching which allows them to internalise the advanced code spellings and which words they occur in during their KS2 years. This is a point Jenny C often raises and I think it is significant. This allows children who would potentially be strugglers to crack the code (for spelling as well as reading) as some others even in mixed method classroom - I was one! Taught in the late 70s/early 80s.

Both Sounds-Write and Fiona Nevola's Oxford Sound Reading have been used in schools and they achieve excellent spelling results, as do the other SP programmes which do not present several spelling variations together- but children are working with these programmes for an hour a day without the confusions of mixed method strategies.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:19 pm

Thank you, Anna. I look forward to hearing more from you when you have time.

I agree with you about significance of the time factor in tutoring. But on the other hand, when we are teaching one-to-one we do have the luxury of being able to go at the pace required by the individual pupil. One of the things that is worrying me is that this is bound to be more difficult in classroom teaching. So should class teachers keep up the 'fast pace' characteristic of SP teaching by introducing multiple spelling alternatives together - or not? I think it is likely that there will be queries about this on the TES forums once Phase 5 is reached! So I, for one, would like to be clear about what to advise.

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Mon Nov 26, 2007 1:44 pm

'The Sounds~write spelling results look very impressive and I wonder how they achieve that? Do they teach multiple spelling options together, as Letters and Sounds appears to do? If so, how to they make this 'digestible' to the strugglers'.

Just to clarify - 'Letters and Sounds' doesn't teach multiple spelling options together at first - in fact it avoids this throughout Phases 2-4, which should last for all or most of Reception. And it doesn't say that people have to introduce several alternatives together even in Phase 5. If 44 phonemes have been covered in Phase 2-4, as intended, then obviously anything introduced in Phase 5 will not be a new phoneme but an alternative spelling for a known phoneme, but these alternatives can be introduced one by one if teachers prefer that.

Jenny C.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Tue Nov 27, 2007 1:07 am

Jenny - thank you for clarifying that. Unless there was more information somewhere else that I missed, the one page on introducing multiple spelling options for spelling purposes did not seem very clear to me.

Anna wrote;
Both Sounds-Write and Fiona Nevola's Oxford Sound Reading have been used in schools and they achieve excellent spelling results, as do the other SP programmes which do not present several spelling variations together- but children are working with these programmes for an hour a day without the confusions of mixed method strategies
Are there any teachers out there who are presenting several spelling options together and achieving good spelling results from all children in the class? Or is it a case of having to differentiate? The quote I took from the article above suggested that most children would find this overwhelming.

Anna
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Post by Anna » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:25 pm

Hi Judy,

I woud like to know the answer to this question too, as I only know that in the tutoring situation it can work well but it can be too much for some pupils. For those who have blending problems for reading I am now using BRI/ARI and am consequently trying to use a parallel smaller step approach alongside. I did give the Apples and Pears materials to one pupil to use at home but I'm not sure how much time they have had to do it. Reading is a pressing issue for this pupil. I am intending to make some worksheets to go alongside BRI over Christmas, I will structure it so that I have a set to be used after each set of books. As some pupils have read 4 sets now, they will be revising the earlier spellings. I have done informal spelling in the lessons but feel I need a bit more structure so spelling keeps up with reading.

I don't know if this is a time issue - ie daily work and extra for those who need it would make the multiple spellings appraoch equally successful in a class situation. Diane McGuinness believes that intorducing several sp variations together (though not all for beginners) and doing various sorting and categorising activities actually works with the brain ability to analyse patterns - how she believes good spellers spell.

There is a school nr Newcastle where they have adapted the Oxford Sound Reading and I have a DVD on that. They seemed to report all the children progressing well but it obviously didn't go into details. I think we need teachers using Sounds-Write in school to give us info on this.

Based on what I know at present in a classroom situation I would probably veer towards Debbie's approach of putting up columns for other spellings but then working on just one at a time. I don't know how far spaced out the variations would be though. I would be interested to know how Jolly Grammar and Read Write Inc go about this.

Judy
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Post by Judy » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:39 pm

Anna, yours are the sorts of questions I have been asking myself for a while now and I would really appreciate more information about what works in practice.

Obviously one can introduce the correspondences one at the time, while revising those already learnt, and that is what I have had to do with most of my 'strugglers'; but this is so slow! For the pupils who need most of the correspondences to be taught explicitly, it could take years! The worry then is that it will take such a long time to see progress that motivation could flag or that parents will think that the way I'm teaching 'isn't working' and stop the lessons.

Also, in a classroom situation, it could mean that covering most of the correspondences for spelling purposes would need to go on well beyond Y1 and I am not sure whether Letters and Sounds intends this, or whether teachers will realise the need to continue this work higher up the school.

There certainly seem to be two schools of thought on this issue and I have found it confusing!

chew8
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Post by chew8 » Thu Nov 29, 2007 12:52 pm

I suspect that there are no easy answers in this area. It has always seemed to me that the spelling of most everyday words should ideally have been mastered by the age of about 12 and that this requires (a) explicit teaching, (b) regular testing, (c) correction of spelling in written work. I believe that spelling still needs to be taught at secondary-school level, but that the focus should ideally be on more advanced and technical words, with most of the teaching being done by subject teachers.

I have always taught at secondary level. I have some experience of providing first aid in spelling for older students with problems, but not (except in the case of family members) of teaching spelling from scratch to young children. With family members, I concentrated mainly on the reading side of things at first, partly because it was important in its own right and partly because I probably realised, deep down, that direct teaching of all the spellings the children would need to know was not going to be possible, so they were going to have to absorb a lot through their reading. It was also self-evident that the children were going to reach the point where reading-in-bulk was feasible, anjoyable and rewarding long before they reached a similar point with writing-in-bulk.

I think that there are two dimensions to the absorption-of-spellings-through-reading process: 1. a lot of it is reinforcement of patterns explicitly taught, but 2. children also encounter words whose spelling they have not been explicitly taught - with these words, they do their first-time learning through their reading. Whether first-time learning happens through direct teaching or through reading, I think that bulk-reading plays a major role in reinforcement. So children may start off not being sure whether to write 'teacher' or 'teecher', 'between' or 'betwean', 'weak' or 'week' for the adjective meaning 'not strong', but bulk-reading will allow them to encounter the right alternative frequently and to increase their chances of remembering it.

I realised, with my own children, that the sooner they took off with their reading, the sooner all this would start happening. This is not to say that I did nothing explicitly on spelling in the early stages - I certainly remember getting the children to make words with plastic letters and also to write them once they had enough pencil control. They quickly reached the point, however, where they needed very little explicit teaching of spelling, and I think (though I can't prove it) that this was because of the bulk-reading they had done from a very early age. They are all now in their thirties and still read a lot and write extremely accurately.

Jenny C.

imdadathome
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teaching spelling

Post by imdadathome » Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:34 pm

Hi Judy, re spelling, how do you deal with spelling mistakes in creative writing or spelling tests? What do you do to correct these mistakes?
D.R

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