Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Spelling--The Dreadful Ordeal (3)

The following is Chapter 15 from my book, Teaching English, How To…. (Xlibris, 2004).

Question: In the age of computers, is spelling still a worthwhile subject in the English curriculum?

Answer: A complete spelling program aims at building confidence in spelling and includes teaching students how to spell words predictably misspelled, how to solve specific spelling problems, how to visualize correct spelling and how to proofread for spelling.

Taking the Pain Out of Spelling II: Daily Success
I used anther technique to take the pain out of learning to spell: I gave the traditional ten words each week, but the ten words represented a specific spelling problem. After introducing the words on Monday, with emphasis on the particular spelling problem that they represented, I used the spelling test as the first thing the students did at the beginning of class each day. It always helps to have some activity right at the beginning of class to settle the students down, to put them right to work. Every day, the students came into class, received their spelling tests from the day before, noted their grades, which were almost always 100%, and waited expectantly to hear me dictate that day’s words. They were sometimes the same ten words as the day before, mixed up of course, or they dealt  with the same spelling problem.

For example: The problem in words ending in –sede, -ceed, and –cede. Supersede is the only word ending in –sede. The only three words ending in –ceed are proceed, succeed  and exceed. The other “-cede” words end in “-cede” as in intercede, precede, secede, recede, etc. Except, of course, the thing you plant in the ground, a “seed.” In the case of the –sede, -ceed, -cede words the same words in different order would appear on the test each day.

I gave the same ten words or words featuring the same problem every day of the week, with the intention that the students would achieve 100% every day. My goal was both mastery of those words and understanding the spelling problem. Since I emphasized the method of dealing with the spelling problem, the students almost always achieved 100% every day and that 100%, or whatever high average they achieved, was one part of their final grade. Even with review tests of words we had already covered, I gave the same ten words every day of the week. I practically guaranteed success.

Next Blog: A Complete Spelling Program for Grades 7 – 12.

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