Spelling Lists: An Antiquated Waste of Instructional Time.

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.

Read the rest here http://mrbalcom.wordpress.com/

Views: 103

Comment by Chris Jackson on February 20, 2008 at 4:51am
2 points from this adult literacy teacher, who spends a lot of time teaching spelling to post 16 learners. Firstly the spelling list should only be one method, as you really need a variety of methods for a variety of learners. Secondly, the fact (indisputable) that words got right one day will be wrong by the next week, does not take into account the latency factor; the words may in the process of being learned and reinforcement will help them get embedded. 16 year olds who have had systematic learning of words, do better in my experience. Chris
Comment by Sylvia Martinez on February 20, 2008 at 11:02am
I left a comment on your blog. Nice post!
Comment by Mark Pennington on July 13, 2009 at 2:50pm
Suggest that you use the spelling list for its true purpose, that of diagnostic assessment. The instructional activities that you mention certainly were busy work, but those have nothing to do with the spelling list. Read How Not to Teach Spelling for a bit more insight.


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