Strategies to Promote Independent Spelling
During my NQT year, I grew quite alarmed at the poor standard of spelling in my year four class. In a bid to improve spelling and to give the children strategies for spelling, I sought the advice of teachers at my school and elsewhere in the local authority.
This article offers an overview of strategies to promote independent spelling.
As adults, we might write words down on to scrap paper when we are unsure about how to spell the word. By jotting the word on to scrap paper, we can see if the word ‘looks right’. Why not encourage your students to adopt the same practice by giving them each a scribble pad or notebook?
Teach Spelling Rules
This is of course your bread and butter as a teacher. Make sure you consistently teach spelling rules such as ‘remove the e before adding ing’.
Emphasise the importance of syllables
Children seem to forget the importance of segmenting when it comes to spelling. Enhance their ability to segment words in to phonemes and graphemes by relating it to syllables and explaining to children to ‘sound out’ each syllable in a word. You could also teach rules relating to syllables. For example:
Mimic – This word has two syllables and ends with a ‘c’.
Quick – This word has one syllable and ends with a ‘ck’.
Once children understand the rule or pattern above, invite them to find other words which follow the rule/pattern.
Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants.
There are few ways more effective of getting children to remember the spellings of words (particularly high frequency words) than using mnemonics. Make up mnemonics with the children and display them around the room to improve spelling in no time.
Have a spelling book
Give each child a little notepad to record words they have misspelled in their work. Invite them to learn these spellings using a strategy such as using mnemonics.
Use 3 B4 Me
This is a simple idea outlined in Jim Smith’s ‘The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook’. It basically requires children to perform three actions before asking you how to spell a word. First the child must use their brain to figure it out. If this doesn’t work, they must use a book such as a dictionary to find out the spelling. If they’re unable to get the correct spelling through the aforementioned strategies, they can ask a buddy to help them. If all else fails, they can then ask for your help. This is one of the most powerful ways of promoting independent spelling.
It could be argued that children are tested too much as it is but having a weekly spelling test for pupils in your class can benefit their spelling enormously. In many cases, it gets parents involved and enables you to more easily track progress with spelling.
Go back to basics
Depending on the abilities of pupils in your cohort, it might be necessary to go back to basics and reteach them phonics and key skills such as segmenting. It is crucial that children have a good grasp of phonics if they are to develop their spelling abilities.
Link spellings to handwriting
Make the words taught in spelling lessons or words for your weekly spelling test the focus of handwriting lessons. The repetitive nature of handwriting and the demands it places on muscle memory make it an ideal time activity through which to practise spelling.
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