Monday, September 27, 2010

Spelling Work: What Spelling "looks like" in our Home-

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We had been working on spelling this morning. I find that this is a topic many children can really struggle with.  I also found in all my reading and research about spelling programs that there can be several reasons why a child might have problems with spelling.

I thought I might share some things we do for our spelling ~ we have overcome some pretty big hurdles in this area
( having both boys diagnosed as dyslexic probably adds to things a bit but nevertheless we have found ways to succeed in this area. ( strategies, tips, and ideas for teaching and learning spelling can also be found  here )

I use many different ways to help my guys practice their spelling. Both boys are very different and I am resolved to teaching them both very differently so I thought I might just share a bit of that today~

Here is an example of some words we had been working on this morning. Our youngest works from an organized spelling program~ but I alter things in ways that he can remember and have better success.  Here is a bit of our work this morning:
I was actually doing a few things here. I had written his list of words on our wipeboard ( all fifteen of them) and we read these aloud together. While we do we have a spelling conversation about the word, seeing how we might be able to remember it or something quirky or interesting about the word. The top row my son noticed quickly that there was words inside of the actual spelling word, so we circled that. When we did this we also did some oral rhyming words too just for fun~ next we worked on the larger words using syllable practice. We use many PG ( Phono Graphix ) methodologies for spelling and reading new words so this really helps my son break down longer words for reading/decoding and encoding ( spelling).
Lastly we many times use color to kind of visually break down the words using usually red for vowels and then blue or black for consonants which my son has down by heart, btw, I think it is our long time spent with OG and PG methods in our practicing of reading and fluency.
My youngest really enjoys these activities because ( if you notice) I don't make them boring. We talk about the words, the word meanings ( vocabulary) any prefixes, suffixes and root words in the longer spelled words. He LOVES working with affixes. And now with his knowledge of them gets really excited to read really long words like he was reading this morning for his phonics/decoding work. I think he looks at it like a challenge now~ : )
I also kind of jump around ( or to some it might seem like I am but I really am not) for example with this list we also talked about what part of speech they would be under, we also talked about homonyms (list included of some) because I pointed out briefly that the word "whether" has another word like it... we also talked about more homonyms and he named some too and it was fun. It makes spelling much more engaging and you can tackle a bunch of skills/concepts just from a simple spelling list.

Our older son, now 14 has a very different approach to his spelling practice. Often in the public schools he would no longer have any sort of formal spelling program, it is either you know it now or you don't and get it wrong and rely on the computer to hopefully pick it up and get it corrected, if not oh well. ~ I know this because I have seen this across the country from all the different schools my older boys have gone to ~ ( public and private).

For our older son we had some formal programs but none really worked. Even though he is a remediated Dyslexic he tends to spell quite naturally and so this can be a bit of dilemma when trying to choose the right programs. So we gave up on programs and now use straight dictation. I realized that he would get words right on the tests ( from the words he had been using all week in exercises) but when it came to words we already thought he knew or should know - he would get them wrong in his writing.  ( I know it sounds familiar doesn't it?- I hear this from my members all the time ~ mostly I feel it is because the programs they are using are failing them and we need to change modalities of how we are teaching spelling )

Dictation helps my son with this. We use Spelling Wisdom ( samples are available here too) and the reason why I had picked this up was because it uses "most commonly used words" in a sequential manner, from great writers for their dictation exercises. He started in the third book in the series for grades 7-9. He is doing amazingly well.

We work much the same way as I do with our youngest when working on the words.
He uses a composition book for the dictation ( 3x per week) and afterwards I have him read it over and mark anything or change anything he is unsure about or knows he did not spell it right by adding SP? on top of the word at which time I give him the correct spelling. ( for us dictation is not testing it is work/practice)

After he has looked things over for punctuation, spelling etc.. we read it together and compare how he did. Then underneath we will work on the words much the same way we do with our younger son.
The next time we work dictation we go back and review the work on the words and also I have him spell it orally to me to be sure he is remembering how to spell those particular words.
If I see any other trouble areas for spelling in his written narrations I will also make a note and add these also to our work in his dictation book~ basically creating an individualized spelling program for him.
Here is an example of what our "work" might look like:

You can see here how there is circles and notes for understanding as to what was going on ~ below is the work we did on some of the words from the dictation passage.
* note: this passage was taken from the literature book he is reading Swiss Family Robinson, we used this before I received and purchased Spelling Wisdom*

Here is an example of how comprehensive dictation can actually be for the older child. We work on grammar and usage at the same time. * I work off of a Teachers Manual from a favorite of our Learning Language Arts through Literature* ( our eclectic style is shining through here again)

I hope you found some of this information helpful and also encouraging. My boys are both dyslexics one more profound than the other, but even with their language difficulties success can be achieved with the right modeling and methods that help them work to their own abilities and strengths.

Happy Spelling!

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