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Dreadful spelling

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Lalad, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I have inherited a Year 4 class with truly dreadful spelling - they cannot spell many basic words like were, when, they, with, went, make etc, and don't get me started on some of the other words!

    Any ideas for how to tackle this?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    First thought is to start a working wall with them and play some games making sentences with the words and getting the children to spell the words. Thnking in terms of early morning work. Could even make it into a 'tables' competition? At this stage just consistent practice and reinforcement is probably the only thing which will be able to make an impact and it will take a while.
  3. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    And a focus on homework on the basic skills. reading, spelling, times tables. Personally that is all I would set for year 4 apart from the odd fun topic based make. Sadly most schools have fallen into the "we do more than the rest" homework approach for young children.
    I do also get my worst spellers to do tasks such as writing up the daily timetable on the board, at least that way they get to improve their spellings of days, months and subjects; and they see the point of getting it correct.
    pepper5, Lalad and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  4. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    Just make a chart for each child - five spellings you keep getting wrong.
    Collate the charts. I guarantee you it will be all the words you have listed.

    So teach the lessons you need to teach about these words. (Lessons which should have been taught in Y2 and Y3.)
    Then track the errors - no tolerance. You WILL spell these words correctly, otherwise you will be rewriting this piece and you WILL have spelling homework, which will consist of a list of sentences where you have to fill in the correct word.

    Just bang on and on about it, half the trouble is laziness.

    If there has to be a "fun" element (shudder) , then give them quickie tasks on the IWB where they have to choose the right /write/rite spelling, e.g quay/key, whole/hole, wear/where, no writing involved.
    pepper5, Lalad and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  5. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Great ideas - thank you so much! We are having a big push on spelling skills but have to teach set words to all children. Seems ironic that they can learn and spell these words for a weekly test, but are still spelling the basic words incorrectly in their writing.
    Lara mfl 05 and pepper5 like this.
  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Ain't that the truth! :rolleyes:
    JosieWhitehead and Fleecyblanket like this.
  7. susanrk

    susanrk Occasional commenter

    Do you use the SNIP Literacy Programms? It's a free intervention and children seem to really enjoy the activities too.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  8. nmason

    nmason New commenter

    That’s why a lot of schools have abandoned weekly tests. Children are only retaining them in their short term memory.

    Instead, they teach the words through a variety of techniques and explain how the language/rules work. You’ve got some great suggestions above.
    Lalad and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    Have they been trained to proof read their own work before you mark it? Do you remind them to do this ten minutes before the end of the time for the task, with a checklist on the board?
    It is also helpful to proof read the day after, but with marking being done the same day, it leaves little room for children to improve their own work. We do encourage dependent workers rather than independent learners in so many ways.
    When I started the big thing was for children to stop and think. Perhaps the pace thing is part of the problem?
    Kartoshka and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  10. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    You know you may have something there. Where the present emphasis is all about demonstrable 'progress' tend sto drive pace rather than genuine learning which by it's very nature is usually a longterm activity.
    Lalad likes this.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I will probably be hanged, drawn and quartered for suggesting this, as I am such an old-fashioned and out-of-date teacher, but has the OP considered making students do their spelling corrections at the end end of their written work? Only once, if they get it right first time? Then five, ten, twenty times and so on? Why should the students take spelling seriously if you don't? And does the OP mark their spelling corrections, so that they know that you will check? Yes, initially this might make extra work for you, but actually it will make LESS work in the long run, as your students will be making fewer mistakes. And how about giving your students some truly horrible writing, full of all kinds of mistakes (spelling and grammar) and then telling them to mark it and point out the mistakes?
    JosieWhitehead and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  12. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Well, so far I have not been tarred and feathered or beaten up in Starbucks, so may I also suggest, dear OP, that you find two or three children in your class who are quite good at spelling, so that you can say, "That's great that you have finsihed your story, Johnny, but could you please go and ask Child A or Child B to check your spelling?"

    The accepted wisdom is that you should NEVER put words together that the students might get confused or muddled. I completely disagree with this nonsense. Write on the whiteboard WHERE, WEAR and WE'RE. Ask the students to explain the differences between them and then ask them to suggest some connections. For example, WHERE obviously has some links with HERE and THERE, whereas WE'RE has some things in common with THEY'RE and YOU'RE. Ask them to tell YOU the strategies that they are going to use to distinguish between them, so that they will not keep getting them wrong in their written work.

    Is spelling in your head, in your hand, or in your mouth? I have been teaching for more than thirty years and I still do not know the answer to that question. It's probably all three. There is a link between spelling and handwriting, according to Professor Cripps, but there are also loads of connections between how we write a word and how we spell it. (On the other hand, have you ever asked your students to spell CHOLMONDELEY, which of course is pronounced "Chummly"?) But spelling also happens in your brain, as you try to think of words with similar spellings.
  13. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Thank you - I hadn't heard of that before so will look into it.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  14. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    We have been doing this but they think their spellings are correct...
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    It doesn't seem to matter how many times they write the correct spelling - a few days later, or in independent assessed writing, the incorrect spelling reappears. And yes, I mark their spelling corrections...and have tried your final suggestion!
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  16. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Rome was not built in a day, Lalad, but you should find that, over time, the number of errors they make will gradually diminish.
    Lara mfl 05 and pepper5 like this.
  17. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    My suggestion is that you give each individual child two or three 'key' spellings to focus on. During their proofreading, they should underline or highlight each time they have used that word in their writing. Then they should check the spelling with their spelling list. That way you're drawing their attention to their incorrect spellings, but without it being too overwhelming (just a few at a time, and once the child can spell one of the words accurately and consistently, you can give them a new one).
    Lara mfl 05 and pepper5 like this.
  18. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Rhyming poetry may help them. I write with rhyme and rhythm and also add voice recordings, and children can easily see that words spelt differently may well sound alike. They would find it very useful to have voice recordings to go with the poems though.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.

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