Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Spelling

Extensive research has taken apart the traditional spelling strategies we have been using since the Agrarian Age. Old fashioned texts and spelling activities are passe in the current literacy research.  The good spellers are good readers and writers. This is what the research shows. The others need access to strategies, such as word walls and personal spellers, which assist them.

Digital technology has not proven to be helpful, since homonyms totally abrogate any gains.  Computer Aided Instruction (CAI) results in a higher engagement for writers, but the tools create new burdens while removing others. CAI studies show that writers do not produce better, more sophisticated writing. Putting text on a computer does not increase reading comprehension, nor better spellers. Spell check brings up too many words and the weak speller cannot differentiate between homonyms. What works best for weak spellers are computer applications which incorporate a personal dictionary. These personal dictionaries can get around the homonym issue.
Spelling includes Word identification, Text comprehension and Writing. We need to be teaching workds, word identification and phonics, which may be more important, especially for the special needs students, by which students respond to reading and writing activities. Students who have difficulty with word recognition read infrequently and read slowly. We must attack this problem with a two-edged sword: increase literacy opportunities and time reading, rather than bashing away at phonics and meaningless spelling activities. Spelling often cannot be taught, but can be encouraged.

(MacArther, Ferretti, Okola, Cavalier, 2001)

Jo Phenix published this sometime ago.
-Peer tutoring for spelling help
-Peer tutoring: editing help
-Direct teaching
-Webbing ideas: creating a vocabulary base
-The act of handwriting = learning (Piaget): write the words
-Word wall word bank
-Personal spelling word bank
-Prewriting prompts
-Writing frames (Quennville, 2001)
-Draw stories or take photos (pre-writing)

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