Sunday, April 12, 2015

I am A.D.

Spelling is the best!  That's what I tell my students anyway in an effort to brainwash them. I also throw in things like, "The reading comprehension test will be so much fun; I can't wait!" or "Sentences!  Who's ready to write?!" I follow this with clapping and cheering.  I even tell them I'm their favorite teacher.  I think some of them are even falling for that one. SO, instead of a class of moans and groans, I pull out a spelling test and get cheers! 

How do I really feel?  Spelling tests are for the birds.  I am a B-O-R-N speller.  It was always my favorite subject because I rocked at it! I made jaws drop at 8-years-old when I spelled "Atchafalaya ~ A-T-C-H-A-F-A-L-A-Y-A" at my grandparent's house when the adults were all scratching their heads. I (((HEART))) spelling! My brother, however, hated it.  It was the worst part of homework...studying spelling.  Pencils flew, fists slammed, tears erupted.  He is dyslexic.  After years and years and years of typical spelling tests and nights and nights and nights of studying, all of that hard work and all of those tears....he still can't spell.  He can't spell my name.  I am A.D. He's intelligent, a talented song writer, and has a hilarious wit, but he can't spell. No one ever taught him since every teacher who taught him did so in the typical weekly list, memorize, regurgitate format.  It doesn't work. You can't teach a child who struggles with letters and words that the letter "Y" says /y/ as in yarn all through Kindergarten, then teach them when they read that it doesn't always say that.  When it is at the end of a short word, it says /I/ as in fly, but when it is at the end of word with more than one syllable it says /i/ as in party.  We expect them to get this understanding with no explanation whatsoever.  If your school is using a spelling list that is not teaching rules and sounds, you need to find a way to provide that knowledge to them.

I currently teach using the Spalding method which is an Orton Gillingham based method of teaching spelling. This is a phonics based, multisensory approach to teaching.  Project Read and Barton are other popular programs that are OG based among others.  I believe this method is essential to teaching children, especially those with learning disabilities, to spell.  The first year I used the Spalding method, I taught 2nd grade.  I reviewed rules of spelling and phonograms (units of sound) all week.  On Friday, I called out ten words that followed the rules and phonograms.  Students were graded on how well they spelled those words.  They learned.  They applied.  They never studied a spelling list.  There was no spelling list. Now, I teach fourth grade, and I do have a spelling list, but each word has rules and phonograms that are identified and reviewed each week.  There should never be a kid memorizing letters, only sounds that make  up the word.  If you want more help with spelling, see my blog post about spelling. Comment with questions if needed!  I'm happy to help.

~ A.D.

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