Showing posts with label spelling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spelling. Show all posts

Spelling-How to Help

Like many of the kids I work with I dislike spelling. Growing up with parents who could spell anything (they were way older than me in grade school)-spelling with hard. I had to always work at it. Even now I have to double if not triple check my spelling before sending out an email, writing a note to parents, or just writing a paper. Today, I have some ideas for parents to help out with spelling as a family.

If you were to ask kids to name their most hated subject, most of them would say spelling, surprisingly not math. Many students struggle with their spelling words and the repetition of writing the words over and over doesn’t seem to help. This leads many students to become frustrated and to giving up.

At some point, a student may even ask, “Why do I have to learn spelling words?” Learning spelling words is important to the student’s future. Spelling words help lay the basic foundation students will need throughout his education and life.

Spelling is important because it aids in reading. It helps cement the connection that is shared between sounds and letters. Learning high frequency sight words also has been shown to help with both reading and writing. This is why students learn sight words during their early years. Spelling and reading also have a common factor, proficiency with language.

Student should be relaxed about spelling; if not, it will inhibit their writing. They will be less willing to write out their assignments. When you listen to a struggler speller speak or read something that he or she has written, it is impossible to not notice that their choice of words may be poor or limited. This is very unfortunate because writing is something that we do throughout our lifetimes.

Bad spelling also gives others a bad impression about you. No matter what you say, if the spelling is poor, the reader will notice this before anything else. Punctuation errors often go unnoticed, but everyone notices spelling errors.

As students get older and progresses through various grades, they will have to write reports and papers. Instructors at all grade levels, including the university level, will grade harshly on poor spelling. This will invariably affect the student’s grade and possibly determine his future success in life.

Resumes are typically written using various writing software programs. Even poor spellers feel comfortable writing resumes with these systems, but what most people don’t realize is that spell check is not 100% accurate. Just begin you don’t see a green or red line, that does not mean that there are no errors in your resume. If your spelling ability is strong, you do not have to worry about not being able to see your own mistakes. A poorly written resume will not get you a job; it will get you one of those meaningless, “we’ll call” sendoffs.

You cannot place your entire future on the line by not being able to spell. Not only is the ability to spell necessary in most occupations, but a person also needs to be able to spell well in order to be able to communicate and take notes and directions. You could be trying to write someone a note that could possibly save his life, but if the person only sees a note filled with misspelled words, then that person may not be able to comprehend what you’re saying. It’s a stretch, but the message is clear. Spelling is so very important.

Here’s a few things you can do at home:
  • Don't get on his case or criticize her about his spelling. Keep your encounters very positive. Praise his effort. Just keep the mind-set of a spelling coach, not a spelling critic.
  • Are you reading to him for 30 minutes a night? You should be. Always hold the book so that he can see the text. Encourage him to look at the text as you read. The more she sees words spelled correctly, the more he'll internalize the correct spellings.
  • Buy him a simple spiral notebook, and call it him spelling notebook. Buy him a children's dictionary with relatively large type and make sure he knows how to use it. Keep them both in a prominent place, like on the kitchen counter. But this isn't for you, this is for him. Every time he notices that he has misspelled a word, he should look it up in the dictionary and then write that word over and over on a page of him spelling notebook, like 25 times, saying it aloud each time so that it's a multisensory process. That's how he can "set it in stone." This is how a phonics-only curriculum teaches spelling at the same time as handwriting and reading.
  • Kids love games, and they love to see how their parents draw. So put those two together, and make a funny worksheet with lots of words that he tends to misspell and cartoons depicting them. Have your child "correct" YOUR spelling.
  • Let's say your child is very sensitive and you don't want to have him get down on himself about spelling. So don't make a big deal out of it. When you look at him school papers and notice misspelled words, don't say a thing. Just make a mental note. Then get yourself a set of handy, dandy index cards. Write a word that your child has misspelled on a card, and put it on your fridge as "The Word of the Day." At dinner, everyone in your family should use that word in a sentence. Have fun with it! If you did this every night for a year, there couldn't be very many words left in a child's vocabulary that he doesn't already spell correctly, or that you haven't covered!

Daily 5: Word Work (freebie)

As special education teacher, one of my jobs is to support classroom teacher support exceptional needs students during their day. One of the more challenging parts of the day is during Daily 5 or Daily 3 (depending on the grade level). For many its word work is the place they run into problems. Granted one wants to see the carry over to other things like writing but that takes patience and tons of practice. But I always say start with the basic and work up from their and if the student is working in a more structured reading program instead of guided reading with me than I turn them something like the word work I have created for Wilson.

Students who come to me for Wilson play word games and manipulate letters to create patterns in words so that all are easily recognized. Teachers then can support this work by having a word wall or personal word wall and have these words become “No Excuse” words to get that writing piece they are looking for. In turn it helps expanded vocabulary and correct spelling allow for more fluent reading and writing thus speeding up the ability to comprehend what is read and get thinking down on paper.

Click on the picture below to be taken to Diving with /or/ Words Freebie. Have a great weekend!

Ideas to To Spice Up Vocabulary Work

Moving school districts means that this year I have had to create new ways for my students
to work with the vocabulary. One thing with Storytown I have come to love is the Intervention series vocabulary matches the grade level vocabulary. The teachers have also requested that I run one week ahead of them. This is nice because students work through the vocabulary with me before they have to do it in class. I can help students understand with word with examples but also they can practice how to apply the word using the story as a background. I also have to make sure that I give real life or real world examples of the word—in most cases these are words that they will come across in middle school but will never use with writing or in a conversation. (Which doesn't help them with text access.)

  • Tally-Ho!-Display the vocabulary word card. Add a tally mark beside the word each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • May I Have Your Autograph?-Display an enlarged print vocabulary word card. Allow students to autograph the card each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Vocabulary String-Scan and print the cover of each book from which vocabulary words are pulled. Attach a kite “tail” of string, yarn, ribbon, etc. to the cover. Print out vocabulary word cards and glue each card on the tail. Allow student to write their name on a clothespin and clip it to the word card each time they use the word in conversation.
  • Don’t Lose Your Marbles!-Display the vocabulary word on the outside of a small jar. Add a marble to the jar each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Stick With It!-Display the vocabulary word card. Each time a student uses the vocabulary word in conversation, have him add a small sticker to the card.
  • Just Scrolling Along!-On a computer that is visible to students, set the screensaver to scrolling text and type in the vocabulary words and/or definitions. Set the screensaver to come on after 5 minutes or so.
  • Rock On!-Make a vocabulary jar by gluing a vocabulary word card to the outside of a jar. Allow students to drop a rock in the jar each time they use the vocabulary word in conversation.
  • Vocabulary Vine-Make a crepe paper vine to wind across the walls in your classroom. Cut out leaves and write a vocabulary word on each leaf. Attach the leaves to your vine and watch students’ vocabulary grow!
  • Word Wizard-Purchase clear name badges. Write the vocabulary word on a card. Slide the card into the badge holder. Allow a student to be the “Word Wizard”. He will wear the vocabulary word and should use the word throughout the day.
  • Chain, Chain, Chain!-Cut out construction paper chain links. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word in conversation, have him write the vocabulary word on the link and add it to the chain. The chain will hang straight down from the ceiling. Display this poem:
For all the vocabulary words you say,
You’ll add another link today.
And when the chain and floor do meet,
(Teacher’s Name) will bring us each a treat!

  • Vocabulary Pop!-Set a large jar on the counter. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, drop a small handful of popcorn kernels in the jar. When the jar is full, have a popcorn party.
  • Movin’ On!-Take a piece of yarn the width of your classroom and hang it above you. The yarn should start on one side of the room and stretch across it horizontally to attach to the other side of the classroom. On the far side, attach a blown up balloon. (Before blowing up the balloon, slip a piece of paper inside with the treat to be given written on it—class homework pass, 5 minutes extra recess, etc.) Attach a sign that says “Our vocabulary is moving on!” with a gym clip. Each time a student uses a vocabulary word, move the sign a bit toward the balloon. When the sign reaches the balloon, pop the balloon and read the prize. You can then start over with a new balloon and a new secret prize.

Here some ideas that I have used with my students that are more aligned with their learning styles. Most of these I have students do at home for practice. This gives them the chance to pick how they want to practice the words. It works great with spelling as well.

  • Backwards Words- Write your words forwards, then backwards.
  • Silly sentences -Use all your words in ten sentences.
  • Picture words – Draw a picture and write your words in the picture.
  • Words without Vowels – Write your words replacing all vowels with a line.
  • Words without Consonants – Write your words replacing all consonants with a line.
  • Story words – Write a short story using all your words.
  • Scrambled words –Write your words, then write them again with the letters mixed up.
  • Ransom words – Write your words by cutting out letters in a newspaper or magazine and glue them on a paper.
  • Pyramid Words – Write your words adding or subtracting one letter at a time. The result will be a pyramid shape of words.
  • Words-in-words – Write your word and then write at least 2 words made from each.
  • Good Clean Words –Write your words in shaving cream on a counter or some other surface that can be cleaned safely.
  • Etch-A-Word – Use an Etch- A-Sketch to write your words.
  • Secret Agent Words – Number the alphabet from 1 to 26, then convert your words to a number code.
  • Popsicles – Make words using popsicle sticks.
  • Newspaper Words – Search a newspaper page from top to bottom, circling each letter of a word as you find it.
  • Silly String – With a long length of string, “write” words using the string to shape the letters.
  • Backwriting – Using your finger, draw each letter on a partners’ back, having the partner say the word when completed.
  • Choo-Choo Words – Write the entire list end-to-end as one long word, using different colors of crayon or ink for different words.
  • Other Handed – If you are right-handed, write with your left, or vice versa.
  • Cheer your words – Pretend you are a cheerleader and call out your words! Sometimes you’ll yell, sometimes you’ll whisper.
  • Reversed words – Write your words in ABC order - backwards!
  • ABC order- Write your words in alphabetical order.
  • Puzzle words – Use a blank puzzle form. Write your words on the form, making sure that the words cross over the pieces. Then cut them out (color if you wish) and put them in a baggie with your name on it.
  • Pasta Words – Write your words by arranging alphabet pasta or Alphabits.
  • Sound Words – Use a tape recorder and record your words and their spelling. Then listen to your tape, checking to see that you spelled all the words correctly.
  • 3D words – Use modeling clay rolled thinly to make your words. Bring a note if done at home.
  • Dirty Words – Write your words in mud or sand.
Have a great week with your family. I hope these ideas help are we are looking for new ways to spice up vocabulary work.

Spelling Apps

I was not a good speller growing up. I was never given strategies to help me just list after list and sentence after sentence in the hopes that I could become a great speller.  I think it was when my family bought our first computer did I begin to see some light. But I still had to work at it. Even today, I type everything, but that does little when it comes to teaching spelling. I have created a list of spelling apps that I use with students to help them practice spelling.

Phonetically Regular, One-Syllable Words

Sound Beginnings by Preschool University

 This app matches pictures at the beginning, middle and ends of consonant-vowel-consonant words and by matching letters to sounds. By touching the letter, the user can hear the associated sound; touching pictures allows the player to hear the name of the picture.

ABC Spelling Magic Short Vowel Words by Preschool University

The Word Building game includes only the three letters needed; the Moveable Alphabet includes all letters. Consonants are in red; vowels are in blue. Touching the letters reveals the sound. Touch the picture to hear the word; then drag letters into the boxes under the picture to spell the word. Incorrect spellings won’t stick! The letters of correctly spelled words blend into the word.

ABC Spelling Magic 2 Consonant Blends by Preschool University

ABC Spelling Magic, Spelling Magic 2 focuses on beginning and ending consonant blends and double letter spellings (e.g., ff, ll, ss). Touching the picture reveals the oral word; touching the spaces below the picture reveals the sounds; touching the letters reveals the corresponding sounds.

ABC Spelling Magic 4 Silent Final e by Preschool University

In the Short/Long Vowel game, the CVC picture and word appear first (e.g., cap). When the player drags the final silent e into place, the picture changes (cape) and the corresponding word is spoken.

Simplex Spelling Phonics 1

Students learn how to spell the words on the given lists and also learn common patterns in spelling, which will help them spell words that aren't included on the app's embedded lists. The voice commands are clear and helpful, as are the color clues and clearly laid out spelling rules that pop up when players choose to get a hint on the words they misspell. This app supports multiple users, so it's easy to keep track of progress for each student. The app comes close to matching Wilson Reading Systems scope and sequence.

Phonetically Regular, Two-Syllable Words

ABC Spelling Magic 3 by Preschool University

This app builds two-syllable words with 4 – 5 letters. Most are closed syllables, but a few examples have open syllables.

High Frequency Words

English Words 1-300: Everyone Learns by Teacher Created Materials ($8.99)

This app offers seven interactive games and four learning activities designed to read and spell 300 of the most common high frequency words. Touch the robot to hear the word; then write the word below. Then tap the check at the end of the word to hear the word pronounced and spelled. Instant feedback will not let you make a mistake. At any time, the player can easily access oral instructions and tap the words to hear them pronounced. Images and sound are professionally produced.

Customized Word Lists

 SpellingCity by SpellingCity

Although the provided word lists are not particularly useful for increasing spelling achievement, one can easily create customized lists to suit any purpose. This is particularly useful for students learning to spell advanced words. On a PC, the adult creates an account at Then one can easily create a new list with a specific focus. After the words are entered, one selects definitions and sentences or creates original text. Once done, users can play a game on the iPad or computer.

These are the ones that I have tried-some I love and a few my students dislike but I have seen their spelling improve over time. I'd love to hear of others--please share. Have a great week.

High Frequency Words

The last two weeks have been NUTS. Pulling schedules together at the beginning of the year is always crazy but in the last two week I had days where both mine and my para's schedule changed twice before lunch. Really-I have to say--I just want to get started and not deal with that mess. But I think it's finial all worked out and I can get down to business.

When my building does flext testing, one things that all students kindergarten to fourth grade are tested on the 500 High Frequency words. The hope being like with phonics instruction that ALL students know all of them and it becomes a non issue when students move through the RTI process. This year, I have taken that insane list word words and broken it down into groups of fifty and color coded them. Creating Super Hero High Frequency Words.

Each fifty words is a different color with word cards, graphes for reading and spelling, and labels to for students to brag about their accomplishment. I have added two of my favorite fluency building games one with dice and the other uses a timer and can be built of specific student needs. This packet is perfect for RTI and small groups. You can find at my store here.

I'm giving away three to the first three people of leave a comment on my blog. Make sure you leave your email address, so I can send you your freebie. Have a great week. Stay cool!!

Wilson and Making Words

My students dread making words or in their minds spelling. They think spelling and that  counts. Its hard for them to think of it as just making words to practice spelling the words they can read.  That way when you get to the a spelling test you get them right. Even dictation is NOT a spelling test. Its practice.But we need LOTS of help with spelling the words we are learning to read.

I found this app with letters and was like lets try practice making words with this. And what fun we had practicing making words with MagLetters Lite. The app works just like fridge magnets. Because iPads are multi-touch unlike a Smart board  students can help each other directly and show them how to fix the word. They had a blast! My district building techs were asking if I had found ways to move the iPads from "games" to having students use them to produce. This is one of those apps. Wilson doesn't allow for much deviation but how you do things with in the program can make fun. My guys needed fun on the last day before break

How does it work? At the bottom of the screen there are the letters, numbers, and symbols.  To move between them the students use the arrows. The letters are small enough that multi-syllable words fit. The background can also be changed. Students could do several words on a page and clear the page or just do one word at a time. They said this was on of their favorite "non-game" apps--better than white boards.

I wish everyone safe travels this week and everyone a fabulous Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by my store and follow me to get updates on new products and sales. I'll be holding a Monday and Tuesday Cyber Sale at my TpT store.

Importance of Spelling: "Can't we just use spell checkers?"

Spelling over the last few years has been the subject of a commonly mailed piece of Internet “wisdom.” And I quote:

“Aoccdrnig to rscheearch by the Lngiusiitc Dptanmeret at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”

Translation: According to research by the Linguistic Department at Cambridge University, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.
This paragraph has been widely circulated on the Internet since 2003, and it is still referred to, either as a point of interest or to defend inconsistent (poor) spelling, or choosing not to teach it. Is it because it rings of the truth that it makes scholars and educators cringe? Hardly. Among other things, there was no such research, and the words in the passage don’t follow the rule of “only the first and last words matter.” It’s a myth. It is fluent readers who can figure out this highly predictable text – and the path to fluent reading includes a firm foundation in the sounds represented by letters and their spelling.

How do we Read?
Do we read whole words in an instant, or by sounds? The fluent reader quickly perceives whole words, but the path to fluency is through mastering the connection between letter combinations and the sounds they represent. The fact is that our letters stand for sounds, not ideas. While some still debate “whole language” versus “phonics” instruction, experts such as Priscilla Vail recognize that language has structure and texture, and our students need to develop both. “Structure refers to the nuts and bolts used in assembling or decoding the written language… phonics instruction provides this solid grounding. Texture refers to the ornamentation which gives language its color, intensity, rhythm and beauty. Whole language instruction provides texture by soaking children in literature. Structure by itself would be boring, just as free-floating texture would be flimsy.”

Rather than relegate spelling to a back burner, spelling can and should be an integral part of language instruction for every student. It is mortar that helps students master the basics of language, especially students who may struggle with reading. Rather than dismiss it as a frill to “focus harder” on reading, teaching spelling and handwriting enables a struggling student to use different senses and strengths to learn and master the relationship between the sounds and symbols of our language, which is the backbone of reading. Other students will be able to more deeply understand the patterns of our complex language and become master communicators.
Spelling Helps Reading
Learning to spell helps to cement the connection between the letters and their sounds, and learning high-frequency “sight words” to mastery level improves both reading and writing. The correlation between spelling and reading comprehension is high because both depend on a common denominator: proficiency with language. The more deeply and thoroughly a student knows a word, the more likely he or she is to recognize it, spell it, define it, and use it appropriately in speech and writing. One of the major goal of the English writing system is not merely to ensure accurate pronunciation of the written word – it is to convey meaning. If words that sound the same (e.g., rain, rein and reign) were spelled the same way, their meanings would be harder to differentiate.

Teaching spelling systematically can also dispel the myth that spelling is unpredictable and too confusing for all but those with a natural gift for it , which often happens when a “correct mistakes as they happen” approach is taken. The idea that English is too mixed up to make sense of is a myth perpetuated by lack of instruction and poor teacher preparation. Spelling is not simple, but when people understand its structure, it is perfectly decodable and not limited to people “born to spell” to understand. For example, many people struggle with spelling the word “broccoli.” Which letter should be doubled? If a student – or teacher or parent - understands the syllable types of the English language, the word makes sense. “Closed” syllables end in a consonant and have a short vowel sound. Open syllables end in a vowel. Often, a consonant is doubled so that a vowel is clearly short, including when we add suffixes. Examples are bagged, collie, and broccoli, which would be divided into syllables as broc – co – li. Perhaps it’s unfortunate that people who are naturally good at spelling and reading are likely to be teaching it; they may not have needed to have these rules explained, or perhaps don’t remember the explanations because they did not have to practice them. Understanding the rules and patterns helps the student who doesn’t intuitively pick them up and enables the teacher to clear up confusion instead of having to resort to “it’s just how it’s spelled."
Others might acknowledge the value of learning to spell, but think that learning the rules and patterns is the stuff of drudgery. When students are practicing in ways that are effective, and getting appropriate feedback and experiencing success, practice is not drudgery. It may not be as fun as recess – but often it can be satisfying and even enjoyable, especially when technology is used creatively so that students can use their strengths with individualized lessons. For instance, students can choose games and activities at sites such as to practice their words as much as they need. By including language-rich experiences with the words, students use auditory and visual pathways in the learning task. This helps students conquer the challenge of remembering the spellings of words, because the “working memory” can be used more efficiently if both the visual and auditory channels are engaged in the learning task.

Technology is a powerful tool that can make learning easier. Some would argue that it’s powerful enough to make learning to spell unnecessary. After all, what are spell checkers for? Spell checkers are wonderful tools for the small mistakes that good spellers make and for common typographical errors such as typing “t e h” instead of “the.” In the hands of the student with good language skills, the spell checker is a real timesaver. However, it can actually interfere with the learning process. The writer must rely on starting the word correctly and getting most letters right, and the spell checker will not correct when a misspelling is another legitimate word. Therefore, the student who spells “does” as “dose” will not see the red “correct me” line, and will continue to entrench the misspelling habit, and the reader will be confused. The more advanced the writing task, the more likely we’ll need to use exactly the right word. When a college student writes “lessening” instead of “listening,” that student has not learned to think about the relationship between the meaning and spelling of words. His writing is suffering for the lack, and perhaps his reading is as well. Spell checkers also can’t be counted on for giving the right word even when they recognize an incorrect spelling. If a writer types “definantly” instead of definitely, Microsoft Word will suggest “defiantly.” “Surpised” will yield “surpassed.” The language learner will be more confused, not less. In other words, spell checkers give us reason to teach spelling and precise word usage *more* thoroughly, not less.

Good use, even mastery, of our complex language does not have to be a thing of the past or reserved for a few. By using the knowledge from years of research and experience and our ever-developing technological tools, we can teach each student to spell well and enable them to read and write fluently. We owe it to our students to give them the skills that are the tools to learning and communication throughout their education and their lives.

 Spelling List 2 for 4th-6th
Spelling List 2 for 2nd Grade


Spelling List 1

Spelling List 1 consists of missed sight words from last weeks pretest and will focus on closed syllable words and short vowel sounds. At the end of two weeks there will be a spelling test. The goal is to increase word attack, reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension skills at the word level. This will help students to understand spelling concepts in order to help them remember a word's spelling, meaning, and grammatical role.

Edward W. Dolch developed lists of the 220 most frequently used words in children's books. Form 50 to 75% of the text consisted of the words he put on his lists which became known as the Dolch words' lists. A reader who knows the Dolch words will recognize the majority of the words in a typical selection. Its important that students not only know how to read them but also to spell them.
4th Grade Spelling List

5th/6th Grade Spelling

2nd grade Spelling List

Who am I?

Wordle creates  “word clouds” from the words you use. We will use Wordle throughout the year.

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.
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