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I'm not actually teaching children how to spell...

Discussion in 'Primary' started by sfm_81, Jan 14, 2011.

  1. Hi all,



    I am a primary NQT, I have a year 4 class who are happy to write (and lots love it), but for the vast majority, the spelling is terrible, it is obvious to me even as an NQT that that have never been taught to spell. Even for those on spelling intervention, their learning consists of a TA giving them a series of words to learn and them taking it home to memorise and then be tested on it in school



    I've done my research and I know support for spelling is there and obviously L&S, but I want to focus my literacy sessions and develop a clear format in them with a starter that can help with spelling. I haven't asked my KS co-ordinator yet about suggestions on this but can someone tell exactly what I could be doing here?



    I've started to do dictation a little but and some apparently 'able' children are getting 50% of them wrong, terrible.



    I appreciate any help at all, thanks.
     
  2. Have a list of the HFW words on display that you insist in being spelt correctly. Take no prisoners with that - there is no excuse if they are on display.
    They will not be able to spell if they have not been taught explicitly and are able to see the words constantly.
    Dictation will not help them spell. They need <u>teaching</u> of spellings.
     
  3. I agree with Devonsent. But, why haven't you spoken to the KS2 co-ordinator to check. We have a whole school 30 minutes at the beginning of the day for spellings (and by that, I mean explicit teaching of spelling rules etc), which is reinforced through writing.
     
  4. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    Welcome to the real world and to the after effects of all the years of educational reform.
    Life is to fast paced and behaviour is to poor in some cases for class teachers to spend to long on this( this is not to say they dont).However spelling lessons are often a small part of literacy hour..even as listening to children read is done in guided reading, and then no other time as they are to busy fitting in the curriculum.
    It takes alot of time and reinforcement to teach spelling and simply many teachers do not thave that time when we are constantly being asked to leap hoops and produce good fast paced lessons!
    Interesting you do dictation......not sure if many teachers still do that......We used to when i was a younger primary teacher many years ago..and even then the results were very mixed....so your results are not new............try saying spellings for the test.......and watch what happens if if you pronounce it clearly and dilectless..theyoften getit wrong!
     
  5. And I remember pronouncing words like 'grass' and 'glass' in a way that meant they could sound them out. No chance if I pronounced them the way I normally speak!! [​IMG]
    On a more serious note, it does take time and I always reward those children who spot in Literacy (or any lesson) any spelling rule which we have been working on. I agree about fast-paced - too much too cover. Maybe I'm just too old-fashioned.
     
  6. Oh dear! As I say to my class, spot the deliberate mistake. [​IMG]
     
  7. manic28

    manic28 New commenter

    Like I say to my class, if you can find the word 'alot' in a dictionary, you can have 100 merits!

    Sorry! Good advice on this thread btw.
     
  8. sfm - if you want some support with teaching spelling in your Year 4 class, including in an 'incidental' way as need arises, have you seen the free alphabetic code charts in unit 1 of www.phonicsinternational.com ?
    Here is one example - but there are many others including alphabetic code charts which the pupils themselves can have in their clip folders. You can also suggest to parents that they can have a chart up at home to support any written homework. These are all free with no registration required.
    http://www.phonicsinternational.com/unit1_pdfs/The%20English%20Alphabetic%20Code%20-%20complete%20picture%20chart.pdf
    You are right to identify that you are not teaching your children to spell and yet they clearly need teaching.
    It is possible to teach children to spell much better than they would otherwise spell if you use a strong systematic approach and allow it some time on the timetable for planned teaching.
    If you then include an 'incidental' approach to address spelling (and reading where necessary) once core segmenting and blending are embedded in your teaching.
     
  9. Up to a point. For 1 in 2 children memorising all the exceptions from the main spelling patterns is simply beyond them.
    Learning to spell English involves learning the basic rules first and then memorising which words break them in some way, and how.
    U can see all the rules and the ways they get broken at
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2009/12/rules-and-exceptions-of-english.html U find all the common words with divergent spellings at
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/11/english-spelling-rules.html
    The amount of learning involved is colossal. Deciding how much of it to teach and to whom is tricky. The best spellers pick it up as they go, predominantly by themselves, because they are able and keen to learn.
     
  10. I find this very depressing too, but it's a fact.
    That's why I would like to see improvements to English spelling. If we amended at least some of the silliest spellings (said, friend, build, touch, you..) we would have far fewer bad spellers.
    <font size="2">With the weakest spellers it's best to concentrate on teaching them the 'correct' spellings for the 300 most common English words.</font>
    <font size="2">Half of those have sensible spellings anyway, as u can see below. It's the others that need extra teaching.</font>
    <font size="3">Regularly and irregularly spelt words among the 300 most used English words</font><font size="3">(grouped by vowels, as their irregular spellings cause all the problems):</font> a am an and as at back bad began can cat dad gran grandad
    had has hat magic man ran sat than that that&rsquo;s (with surplus &ndash;e always)
    animals dragon (without doubled consonants as in &lsquo;granny, stagger&rsquo;)
    baby came gave made make place take again great away day may play say way they car dark garden hard park are laughed + (for speakers of standard English) after asked can&rsquo;t fast last plants
    air there there&rsquo;s their where bear (air/are/ear spellings are all unpredictable)
    saw all called small water thought (au/aw are also unpredictable) bed best end get help her let let&rsquo;s new next red them then went when yes the said head friends every everyone were better eggs fell tell well any many ready
    very ever never (<v> nearly always breaks the consonant doubling rule) been feet green keep need queen see sleep three tree trees even here these each eat please sea tea key be he he&rsquo;s me she we we&rsquo;re people - (spellings for the ee-sound are all unpredictable) big children did didn&rsquo;t different fish him his if in is it it&rsquo;s its king little miss still thing things think this which will wind wish with
    live lived river birds first girl work - (er/ir/ur spellings &ndash; [her third turn] &ndash; are all totally unpredictable) inside like liked cried time while by fly my why I I&rsquo;ll I&rsquo;m I&rsquo;ve night right
    across along box dog floppy fox from got hot long lots not of off on stop stopped top gone want wanted was what
    or for horse morning before more your door home over clothes going boat cold don&rsquo;t most oh old only told
    go no so grow know snow window (spelling of the o-e/oa sound is unpredictable in common words) about around found house mouse our out round shouted down how now town food room school soon too do into to two who through but duck fun jumped just much mum must run sun under up us another come (coming) mother other one once some something
    use you Spellings for the short oo/oul/u are all random:could couldn&rsquo;t would book good look looked looking looks took pulled put Oddments: boy Mr Mrs giant suddenly


    If u take just a brief look at all the common words with irregular spellings at
    http://englishspellingproblems.blogspot.com/2010/11/english-spelling-rules.html
    <font size="2"> u can understand why English spelling defeats so many. </font>
     
  11. P.S. U've probably twigged already that the irregular spellings are in bold.
    I had made that clear in the heading, but the tes website messed it up.
    It got rid of many spaces too. Sorry.
    I am sure u can improve on it to suit your needs.
     
  12. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    except they are only irregular in Mashaworld
     
  13. I think people can judge that for themselves:
    Regularly and irregularly spelt words among the 300 most used English words(grouped by vowels, as their irregular spellings cause all the problems):

    a am an and as at back bad began can cat dad gran grandad
    had has hat magic man ran sat than that that&rsquo;s
    have (with surplus &ndash;e always)

    animals dragon (without doubled consonants as in &lsquo;granny, stagger&rsquo;)

    baby came gave made make place take again great away day may play say way they car dark garden hard park are laughed
    + (for speakers of standard English) after asked can&rsquo;t fast last plants

    air there there&rsquo;s their where bear (air/are/ear spellings are all unpredictable)

    because saw all called small water thought (au/aw are also unpredictable)

    bed best end get help her let let&rsquo;s new next red them then went when yes the said head friends every everyone were
    better eggs fell tell well any many ready
    very ever never (<v> nearly always breaks the consonant doubling rule)

    been feet green keep need queen see sleep three tree trees even here these each eat please sea tea key be he he&rsquo;s me she we we&rsquo;re people - (spellings for the ee-sound are all unpredictable)

    big children did didn&rsquo;t different fish him his if in is it it&rsquo;s its king little miss still thing things think this which will wind wish with
    live lived river

    birds first girl work - (er/ir/ur spellings &ndash; [her third turn] &ndash; are all totally unpredictable)

    inside like liked cried time while by fly my why
    eyes find I I&rsquo;ll I&rsquo;m I&rsquo;ve night right

    across along box dog floppy fox from got hot
    long lots not of off on stop stopped top gone want wanted was what

    or for horse morning before more your door

    home over clothes going boat cold don&rsquo;t most oh old only told
    go no so grow know snow window (spelling of the o-e/oa sound is unpredictable in common words)

    about around found house mouse our out round shouted down how now town

    food room school soon too do into to two who through

    but duck fun jumped just much mum must run sun under up us another come (coming) mother other one once some something

    use you

    Spellings for the short oo/oul/u are all random:
    could couldn&rsquo;t would book good look looked looking looks took pulled put

    Oddments: boy Mr Mrs giant suddenly
     
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I know you have been asked before but perhaps you would like to explain why you consider all those words to be irregular...
    Mr and Mrs are contracted forms of Mister and Mistress sonot oddments
     
  15. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Where do I start with my 13 year old who has terrible spelling, a product of a primary head who didn't believe in phonics. He is very resistent and defensive.
     
  16. Tell him that it is not his fault that he has difficulty with spelling - and that is it not nearly as hard as he thinks when taught systematically.

    If you can explain the rationale of sounds to 'alphabetic code' - and approach this from a 'code' point of view (which can be very interesting for young people), then perhaps he can start to 'see' the code for himself in writing. Then he might come round to some phonics/spelling input from you.

    I would always start with a version of the alphabetic code chart to show a learner (and the 'teacher') the rationale of spelling alternatives for the various small sounds of speech.

    If you scroll down this 'unit 1' page, you will find near the top of the page three versions of the chart where the 'teddy' exemplar word and picture has been replaced by 'tent'. This was in response to requests from teachers of older students so that the phonics is not associated as a 'baby' subject.
    One of the things that I always address in training is to demonstrate that 'phonics' for both reading and spelling new, technical, longer/more challenging words is something which many, if not most, proficient adult readers/spellers apply. In other words, it is an 'adult' thing and not baby stuff.
    I think this is something which would be good to demonstrate to a reluctant thirteen year old. Does he spell through trying to memorise letter after letter - or does he spell by mentally tallying the sounds all through the spoken word (silently in his head that is) and allotting spelling alternatives for the sounds? Does he even know about the notion of 'alphabetic code' and spelling alternatives?
    In other words, I think the best starting point is to talk to him on a professional development level - and discuss the debate there has been for both teaching reading and spelling - and how this has affected how young people may have been taught - or NOT taught - as the case may be.
    Ultimately, it is to his adult advantage to have this knowledge about spelling. He may never be a great speller - but I'm sure that he can be a much better speller - and continue to get better as he matures if he has some background in the alphabetic code and skills of blending and segmenting.
    http://www.phonicsinternational.com/unit1.html

     
  17. Well. First of all I would sit him down and explain that writing is not some devilish instrument of torture specially designed for the torment of children, but a very nifty way of communicating all sorts of things to other people who are neither reachable by telephone nor sitting in the room with them. That unless he is able to make words recognisable by the person who will be reading them there is no point at all to writing anything, but not to do so would leave him 'voiceless' in many situations and quite unable to gain any qualifications (I bet he can 'do' textspeak' though[​IMG] )
    Then I would, using texting as a starting point, explore how the sounds in words are represented by a 'code' and explain how, if he can spell the 'sounds' in a word, in the order in which they are 'said' then he will produce a word which people can read and which will convey his meaning.
    At 13, with poor spelling habits really well established and, as spelling is partly dependent on kinaesthetic memory, these habits are very difficult to eradicate, you may just have to settle for him producing good phonetic spelling (which you, of course, will help him with) unless he finds sufficient self motivation to go further and learn 'correct' spellings.
    I hope that he is sufficiently intelligent to respond to a bit of reason about the need for clear written communication!
    I suggest that you have a look at debbie's PhonicsInternational for good phonics resources; they are either free or very reasonably priced (Out of interest, I have often seen the Apples & Pears spelling programme highly recommended - well, for one child it would cost you &pound;100. Ouch!)
     
  18. Aaah, cross posted with Debbie...
     
  19. LOL!
    I really liked your contemporary suggestion of looking, at first, to the 'code' of text speak. You can tell that you work with key stage three children![​IMG]
    PS: My dream is of every home and every class having some form of alphabetic code chart to explain the rationale and support the teaching and learning of code for both reading and spelling.
    I bet you that would be a big leg-up in spelling improvement and interest in spelling and our writing system.
     
  20. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Thanks for all your suggestions Debbie and Maize. I am an EY teacher used to teaching synthetic phonics, but am at a loss with my son including teenage hormones etc!
    It is such a shame that this causes problems for him, because content wize he has always been extremely able i.e G&T for creative writing. He used to have above average spelling age until he was about 8, Mainly due to the very small amount of phonics training he had and memory. However he has made no progress since. It is knocking his confidence, hence his defensiveness. He has expressed a desire to be a primary teacher though, so I think the adult conversation route you suggest may work, using this as a way in to emphasise the importance of spelling.
     

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