Strategies for Spelling Instruction

SpellingBeeThe National Spelling Bee Finals are held this week! Hundreds of student spelling champions, ranging from 9 to 15 years old, will travel to Washington, DC to compete in the National Spelling Bee. To learn more about what it’s like during the event and how these spellers prepare, read “An Insider’s Perspective on the National Spelling Bee: An Interview with James Maguire” from Voices from the Middle.

How can you help students become accurate and independent spellers? Check out “Spelling — What’s All the Fuss?“, Chapter 1 from Spelling in Use by Lester L. Laminack and Katie Wood Ray, to learn more about how spelling fits into the broader topic of learning to write. Designed for teachers and families, the book features stories from real classrooms and rich examples of student writing.

Read the English Journal article “What I Wish I’d Known about Teaching Spelling” for eight recommended teaching practices. See “Spelling and the Middle School English Language Learner” for additional techniques to help the language learners you teach.

The article “Teaching Challenged Spellers in High School English Classrooms” from English Journal, also foregrounds writing as the key to spelling instruction. The article suggests that teachers begin by observing samples of students’ writing and then weave in skills lessons related to the spelling needs they observe.

To explore alternatives to teaching spelling in isolation, consider the ways that helping students to imagine themselves as writers “is much more complex than nurturing a more stable grasp of sentence clarity or spelling” in the Teaching English in the Two-Year College article “Imagine You’re a Writer”.

Winning the War of Words: Improving Our Students’ Spelling” from English Leadership Quarterly explains an alternative to the spelling bee that promotes camaraderie and offers students strategies for overcoming their spelling foes.

Will you tune into the Spelling Bee?

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About Lisa Fink

Lisa Storm Fink is the Project Manager for ReadWriteThink at NCTE. After teaching grades K-4 for almost 9 years, she brought her varied experiences (multi-age classrooms, looping, cooperating teacher for preservice teachers, plus a specialization in Remedial Reading) fulltime to the ReadWriteThink site. Lisa feels lucky to have worked on all parts of the ReadWriteThink site as a writer and reviewer, curriculum developer, and now as Project Manager. She enjoys sharing the site with others during professional development opportunities as well as with her preservice students at the University of Illinois.

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