Should we allow poor spelling in our classrooms? Should spelling lessons be focused only on a once-a-week quiz, but otherwise ignored in subjects such as math, science or creative writing?
Let's consider why that approach isn't the best for students success.
In other articles, I've pointed out that my teaching college didn't give me what I needed to be a successful teacher. Too bad that it did leave me the advice to forget about spelling unless my class was actually working on spelling word lists.
This approach is a sure-fire way to not prepare our kids for successful employment, which is a huge part of being successful in life. Let's face it:
Poor spellers are perceived as being not quite as smart
as those who mind their P's and Q's, so to speak.
And before you protest that technology will save us, spell-checkers are not a substitute. Aside from the fact that spell-checkers make errors, many on-the-job forms must still be filled out by hand...including employment applications. Even online job applications don't often check for spelling in the fill-in-the-blank fields.
When can we make the greatest impact? When will our children learn if not in kindergarten through 6th grade? Should we expect high-school English teachers to issue lists of 3rd-grade spelling words that should be well-known before middle school?
I think not.
No...we own spelling lessons at the elementary level. Consistent application is the key to making progress in this critical skill.
Is spelling that important? You bet. Aside from the expectations of employers, spelling is often a "conventions" sub-score on many standardized tests. In my own state, if a student misses one of the 150 common words or any grade-level core word they should know, they lose a point on their writing test. If they make one more mistake in their writing sample...they fail.
Teaching to the test? Yes. In this case the test is preparing them for life...and successful employment.
Fortunately, everyone understands this subject, even if they aren't the best spellers themselves. This means a few things:
Our best approach is to focus on the nuts and bolts - how to teach it - regardless of our grade level. Spelling word lists are readily available for any grade level and there are multiple programs on the market, such as Sitton Spelling. The application of these spelling lists and programs is the key, and that's where we'll get our greatest mileage.
Let's help our children put out their best work in all regards in all subject areas. Unintelligible words diminish schoolwork in any area, whether is is a non-fiction summary, a scientific prediction or a math explanation.
Our kids are smart. It's our job to implement spelling lessons that let them showcase their smarts in all written communication.
Click above to like this page. Click top-left button to like entire site. Comment below!
How to Teach Spelling
The program is not as important as the approach
Spelling Lesson Plans
Get kids spelling well in 15 minutes a day
Practicing Spelling Words
Great communication starts with mastery of spelling patterns
Spelling Homework Ideas
Simple and fun ideas for parent involvement
Giving the Spelling Test
Have they mastered the patterns of the week?
Helping Your Remedial Spellers - Part 1
Understand the causes of kids' spelling challenges
Helping Your Remedial Spellers - Part 2
Overcoming speech and hearing issues
Online Spelling Tests
Using online spelling games for reinforcement
Spelling Lesson Support Material
Free downloads: spelling word lists and references