Teaching Ideas : Spelling Support
Developing knowledge and understanding of spelling rules, patterns and word formations is a key skill that the children need to develop to become proficient and fluent writers.
The English language is full of nuances and quirks that the class will need to master to enable them to participate fully in the school curriculum and wider society.
Poor spelling abilities can hinder confidence and hamper the children’s progress in their learning and social development. There are a number of techniques and activities that you can deploy to support the children’s spelling in a wide range of lessons and topics. You need to develop understanding of different spelling rules and patterns that the children can then employ when writing different texts. Concentrating on different aspects of spelling will help the class ensure that they can communicate effectively when writing for a range of purposes.
Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic
Every class is full of different learners. Some children learn best by listening whilst others learn best by working visually or practically. You need to ensure that any class spelling activities match these three different learning styles. Audio learners should have opportunities to listen to the sounds of different words to match phonemes and sound with different spelling patterns and rules. The audio learners can play spelling games where they are speaking and listening to the sounds of different words. Visual learners need to be provided with activities where they can learn the shape and letter patterns of different words. The children can use different forms of media to practise writing spellings in different fonts and styles. Kinesthetic learners need to take part in practical activities to help them learn the spelling of words. Get the class to develop movements and actions to represent different spelling patterns and rules. The best approach is to select activities that combine audio, visual and kinesthetic activities so that all children are fully supported.
Children as Teachers
Get the children to take an active role in their learning of spellings by allowing them to select a spelling focus for the class to practise. Split the children into pairs and get them to take charge of everyone’s learning in spelling for one week during the course of the school year. The children can choose their own sets of words for each other to learn as well as setting a class spelling homework activity and conducting a weekly test. The children acting as spelling teachers can also mark and provide feedback for any homework activities or tests leaving you to monitor and assess everyone’s progress.
One of the most difficult aspects of teaching the children spellings is getting them to use rules and patterns that they have learnt in their own writing. You can display some table display cards on the children’s tables containing examples of words matching the weekly spelling rule or pattern so that the children can concentrate on using the words in their own writing. You should also build in time for the children to proof read and edit their writing to check with a partner that they have spelt words matching the weekly spelling rule or pattern correctly.
Divide the programmes of study for writing transcription and the spelling rules listed in the appendices into manageable chunks that the class can focus on during the school year. Each week spend some time in an English lesson introducing the spelling rule and pattern so that the children can discuss the meaning and spelling of different words and try using some examples in their own writing. The children’s understanding of a particular spelling pattern can then be strengthened during a handwriting activity. You can also randomly question children to spell different words at free moments during the school day such as lining up to walk to a school assembly. It is important that the children get to demonstrate their understanding of the selected spelling rule or pattern by getting them to focus on using some of the words in their writing. You can offer rewards of team or house points for anyone who manages to spell ten of the words with the weekly spelling rule or pattern in a piece of writing.
It is important to use parents to support the children’s progress in spelling. At the start of the school year, you could invite parents and guardians to an after school meeting where you can introduce some of the strategies and techniques that they can use when supporting homework and spelling activities. Each Monday you can send home a copy of the words that the children will be focusing on that week which the parents can then help the child to learn and master the spelling pattern or rule using some of the activities discussed at the start of the school year i.e. writing spellings in sand, testing children when performing routine activities such as walking to the shops, identifying examples of spellings when reading during a bedtime story etc.
The class will need to understand that there are a number of words in the English language that are exceptions to spelling rules and patterns. The children will need to learn the spelling of these words by rote learning and constant practice. During a guided reading activity, you can get the group to discuss some common word exceptions for a spelling rule and then look for examples of the words in a text. You can get the class to build some of their own spelling games and activities to support learning of word exceptions such as word searches and crosswords.
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