Saturday, August 8, 2015

What About Spelling?

As we sit around the evaluation table with homeschooling families this summer, great questions surface. This week, "What about spelling?"

A common question with several appropriate 
answers dependent upon 
educational philosophy, age, ability, and learning style.

There are many ways to teach spelling
  • Purchase a traditional, grade-leveled spelling curriculum. 
This is the first answer which comes to mind for most parents. Easy-peasy; buy the curriculum. Done. Works well for some folks.

  • Choose high-interest or frequently used words.
This method takes a bit more work, but is pleasantly effective. Works well for active learners and learners with interests which saturate their days. Words of interest often return the greatest reward. There is a purpose to learn.

For example, live with a fisherman? Consider words of interest: bait, tackle, license, trout, shrimp, brackish, hook, sinker, shore, catch, freshwater, captain, salmon, carp, permit, marsh, or wade.

Sometimes we have used objects of interest to learn spelling. One of our most unusual items have been acorns and cerealStickers and foam letters make great teaching tools as well.

Starting with the most frequently used words? Check out these lists:

Learning Resources posted and ranked 300 words

  • Play a game.
My children always enjoy a good game. Games add spark to learning. When there is a less-than-favorite subject to learn, we try a game. If we don't own a game to teach a particular subject, I make one. 
  • Compile a "I want to learn these!" list.
Where there is intrinsic motivation, retention is not far behind. Whether learning a new skill or reading a book with intriguing vocabulary there are likely words the child wants to know. Use the words of interest to compile a "I want to learn these!" list, place it in a notebook, and whittle away at it each week.
  • Tackle commonly misspelled words.
Compare lists at a given level to find the most often cited misspelled words.

Elementary School
National Curriculum Associates complied this list from children's writings, grades three through eight.

ABCTeach published multiple lists

Mrs. Martin's 100 most commonly misspelled words

Your Dictionary lists

Horicon school district language arts helps

Spelling-Words-Well multiple grade lists

Fry's Instant Word List

Middle School and Above
Info Please offers their compilation

John Burroughs Middle School offers spelling and vocabulary lists

Kenneth Odle's most commonly misspelled middle school words

High School and Beyond
Capital Community College list from Student's Book of College English by David Skwire and Harvey S. Wiener. 6th ed. MacMillan: New York. 1992

Oxford Dictionaries common misspellings

  • Use a combination of several above. 
Though cliche, it is often true of learning: variety is the spice of life. Educators have used a combination of the above possibilities and been highly successful at teaching children this often dreaded and difficult skill. Use what works and spice up learning during the dry seasons.

Spelling comes in different, very effective packages. There is not a tried-and-true method. Each child receives, stores, and retrieves information differently, especially with spelling. Hence a individualized path is often necessary in order to produce the greatest retention.

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