Spelling Lists: An Antiquated Waste of Instructional Time.
I must begin this conversation by saying of course DON’T PANIC. I do believe that spelling should be addressed in schools. I must also disclose that in my first year of teaching (admittedly a short time ago) I too thought the students must memorize spelling words each week. What I discovered that year and through subsequent research (including the article No More Friday Spelling Tests? by Kelly A. Loeffler) was that I was only teaching what was taught to me. I asked myself if memorizing spelling words, one week at a time, was actually working. The answer was no. Students who spelled every word correctly on the Friday test were misspelling those same words the following week in their daily writing. So why was I wasting time. I was wasting time printing the lists. The students were wasting time studying words at home, doing busy work like writing them three times each or alphabetizing them. I was wasting 20 minutes a week giving the test and another 30 minutes scoring it. All this led to frustration at why the students weren’t getting better at spelling. Then I remembered a familiar quote from Anthony Robins: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I studied spelling lists for my entire elementary career and I just now had trouble spelling the word career. Spelling lists didn’t work then and continuing to use a faulty strategy is poor or lazy instruction. It is the 21st century and it is time for a new model for spelling instruction.
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