Spelling is a part of the writing block. It is a secretarial role which can be done whilst editing written work at the drafting stage. It is advisable to have a whole school approach to editing, which may include a common habit of circling words of which students are unsure.

Students should leave a line between each of their written lines, so as to allow room for editing. The corrected word can be written above the misspelt word or written in the margin. Even if the corrections aren’t made, the act of circling words which are misspelt, is a learning process. I sometimes get quite excited when I see that a poor speller can at least identify some of the mistakes which means that they know it “looks” wrong.

Good spellers – get to know the “look” of a word – they can readily identify when it is wrong.
Good spellers – use a dictionary
Good spellers – look around the room to see if they can see the word somewhere else
Good spellers – ask another good speller
Good spellers – use mnemonics

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I have a few favourite online spelling sites which I will list and add to, over the next little while.
TUTPUP has games for literacy and numeracy, which sees the participants pit their skills against other players from all over the world. There are 5 different levels of difficulty, which makes it accessible to all. The word is spoken and the player types it in. If you mishear the word, you can hear it again.

SPIDERMAN SPELLING The player is given a number of random letters, which they need to combine, to make as many words as possible. The idea is to help Spiderman climb the 100m wall before Doc Ock throws debris at him and makes him fall.

SPELLING CITY – I love this site because you can add word lists yourself and then direct the students to the site. You can also pay to sign up all your students individually, so that they can practice using their own individual spelling lists. There are 5 different activities the students can select from. Spelling test; Vocabulary test; Teach me; Play a game with a selection of gimmicky, fun games to practice spelling and a Flash card option, which is only available to premium (paid) members.
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This is one of my favourite spelling strategies. Mnemonics are word plays which help you to spell tricky words. Over the years, I have developed my favourite mnemonics with students, but the key to a successful mnemonic is that it has to mean something to the speller. If you can’t make a connection with the word play and the word, then it won’t work for you. Some of my favourite mnemonics are:
Accommodation – (to remember that it is spelt with double c and double m)
o Two cars, two motels
Vacuum – (to remember double u)
o You vacuum Under Upholstery
Beautiful – (to remember the “eau” combination)
o Every Australia Usually is Beautiful
Exaggerate – (to remember double g)
o Gross Gossip
Embarrass (to remember double r and double s)
Red Radish – Silly Sausage
Principal (to differentiate between principal and principle)
o The principal is your PAL
Practice or Practise
o Ice is a noun – which means that practise is the verb
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An oldie but a goodie – the old Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check strategy. I get my students to rule up 3 columns in their books.
The first column is labelled – Look, Say, Cover.
The second column is labelled – Write
The last column is labelled – Check

Students write their spelling words in the first column, then look at the word. REALLY LOOKING AT THE WORD, IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS STRATEGY. Students must be encouraged to look for things such as:
Double letters
• Word endings
• Compound words
• Smaller words within a larger word
• Strange letter combinations
• Silent letters

Once they have really looked at the word and said it out loud, they then cover the word and write it in the second column. They then check the word, and write it again in the third column – correcting it if they misspelt it, or writing it again, even if they got it right.
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I am a good speller – I cannot imagine the fear, anxiety and tension, a poor speller must face every time spelling becomes a focus in their school day. I like to put the fun back into spelling each Friday, by playing Spelling Champs with my students, which works equally well with the youngest students, as the oldest ones I teach (year 9).
I tend to use the NAPLAN spelling words which can be found in the NAPLAN marking guide These words are listed in 4 levels of difficulty – Simple, Common, Difficult, Challenging

I allow the students to select their own levels – most students will choose the appropriate level. The good spellers thrive on the challenging list and the others, spread themselves across the common and difficult lists.

Randomly, 2 students come out to the white board, pick up a white board marker and listen for the word. I vary the level of difficulty, depending on the students skills. I say the word and the two students write it on the white board, quickly but neatly, then drop to the ground (this is the bit they love). If I have to ask for clarification of a letter (due to messy handwriting) then even if it is spelt correctly and they were the first to drop to the ground, the other person wins (providing they have spelt it correctly). The winner’s initials are placed on the board in the division 1 column whilst the other person’s initials go into the division 2 column.

After each student has competed and had their initials added to either division 1 or 2, we then play off pairs of students as they are listed. The first two play off, one lot of initials is erased. The second pair play off, one lot of initials is erased etc until we have a winner for each division. The division 2 winner, may then opt to challenge the division 1 winner if they want to.

I take the opportunity of misspelt words, to run a short mini lesson on how the word is spelt. I then make sure that after talking about ways to remember to spell that particular word, that I use it again, later in the competition.

The students adore Spelling champs on a Friday afternoon and I am almost strung up, if I change plans or try to implement something else.
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Buddy spelling allows for differentiation in the spelling program. It also throws the onus of learning and correcting spelling, back onto the students. I allow 10- 15 minutes each Friday morning, for buddy spelling to take place. Students work in pairs. They hand each other their individually selected spelling words and test each other. After they complete their tests, they then select another 10 words from the NAPLAN list provided and complete their look, say, cover, write, check exercise in the back of their books. These become next week’s words. If there are any words misspelt, they automatically become words for next week as well.


3 thoughts on “Spelling

  1. Great tips and suggestions here. Thank you! I am teaching spelling to two year 6 classes this year. I only see each class for 70 minutes on a Friday (I’m part-time). This is a long time for teaching spelling, and that last class on a Friday afternoon is a MAJOR challenge! Taking on board some of your excellent suggestions thank you. Trying to keep them motivated and still see them developing. I really want them prepared for NAPLAN success next year.

  2. My pleasure -glad you have been able to find some useful tips here. Oddly enough, I LOVE teaching spelling and I love sharing that passion with the students. A few years ago when I was teaching year 9’s, I did “spelling Friday” on a weekly basis, and if I tried to change it to do something else, I was in all sorts of trouble. The kids loved it.

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