Thursday, September 1, 2011


I have been neglecting my blog world for way too long. That's not to say I haven't been blog-stalking though! I have been getting some great last minute tips from so many amazing teacher-bloggers! I feel like I must be one of the last people to go back to school - we don't start until after Labor Day. Needless to say, I am very anxious to meet my new batch of kids!!! Before the new year begins for me I wanted to share with you all how I teach spelling. I've gotten a few questions about it from teachers at my school, so I thought I would share with everyone :)

For starters, I am not a fan of our basal series...or any basal series for that matter. Soooooo I have adopted the Fountas and Pinnell Word Study program in my class. 

The main philosophy behind it is that we want our students to take ownership of their learning and apply spelling strategies to their writing. Sounds good, right? 

At the beginning of the year (so on Tuesday) I will give my students the Words Their Way primary spelling assessment. Based on this assessment I will pair my students up to create "Spelling Buddies." These pairings will probably only change once or twice over the course of the year (unless there is a bad match here or there). I also use this assessment to help me plan which word sorts to place at the Word Work station during Daily 5 for different groups of students.

Here's what it looks like in my room:

Monday: I introduce the spelling pattern for the week (will correlate to the Phonics Dance this year). Then the kids brainstorm a very large list sometimes upwards of 30 words that have the same spelling pattern(s). Finally, each student chooses the 10 words he/she wants to learn for the week, which means if I have 28 students like I do right now, then there could be 28 different spelling lists. I have my students write their words on two index cards - one to take home to study and one to keep at school in their spelling pocket for the week.

Over the three years I have used this "program" I have found that the trick to having individual spelling lists is modeling how to trouble-shoot. For example, What happens when your buddy can't read one of your spelling words? (a common problem in my room) 

Tuesday: The spelling activity for Tuesday is called Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check. The directions are exactly that: Look at the word, Say the word (and spell it out loud), Cover your list, Write the word, Check the word. If you get it right, move on. If you get it wrong, try again. If after three attempts you still did not get it right, copy the word correctly and circle the part of the word that was tricky. This is done in their word study notebooks.

Wednesday: Buddy Check. My students love this. They sit with their spelling buddy, trade cards, and take turns quizzing each other. They key here is modeling how to check their buddy's answers and talk about tricky parts of words. 

Thursday: The activity on Thursday is called "Making Connections." I tried and didn't love the "looks like/sounds like" sheet reccommended by Fountas and Pinnell, so I decided to change this day a little. I usually do a "making and breaking" words activity with individual white boards ("Write rain. Now erase one letter to make main) or a word sort...something to get their minds making connections between words.

Friday: Buddy Test! This looks just like Buddy Check, only this time buddies get to use cool red pens to grade their buddy's spelling test. I actually take the scores as a grade (of course I glance down the list to make sure the scores are accurate)!

Here is a picture of the word study board in our classroom:

Ok, this pic isn't great - I'll take a better one tomorrow. But for now, the word study board is all the way to the left. The pockets are where students keep their spelling lists. The thin red poster has clothes pins on each side that designate the spelling buddies, and the other red poster is a Monday-Friday reminder of the spelling activities I explained above.

Ok that's it for now. One more day of PD, then to the airport to meet the fam for a trip to Boston, and then the first day of school!!! I'd love to hear how you all teach spelling in your rooms! 


Tina said...

I just found your blog, and am a new follower!

Quench Your First

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