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Why some kids can’t spell and why spelling tests won’t help
http://theconversation.com/why-some-kid ... help-20497
Started off well
Sending a list of words home on Monday to be tested on Friday is not teaching. Nor is getting children to write their spelling words out 10 times, even if they have to do it in rainbow colours.
Looking, covering, writing and checking does not teach spelling. Looking for little words inside other words, and doing word searches are just time fillers. And writing your “spelling” words in spirals or backwards is just plain stupid.
And yet, this is a good summary of most of the current spelling programs in schools today.
Then went rapidly down hill
English is an alphabetic language; we use letters to write words. But it is not a phonetic language: there is no simple match between sounds and letters.
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I can explain why some spelling tests don't work. My son is in year 1 and in the top 'phonics group' at school. That is not especially surprising given his home input :) However his spelling is pretty non existent as (rightly or wrongly) our focus at home has always been on decoding, not encoding. We did a bit of Apples and Pears at home in the holidays but I just don't have time after school to fit more in as we already do maths and he is only five. So he generally misspells the most simple words but what words have been on his spelling list over the last two weeks? Well in phonics group they have been learning 'ci' and 'ti' making a 'sh' so he learn the following for a test: official, artificial and six similar words. This week was 'augh' and 'au' so words to learn like daughter and haunted.
I have no problem with him looking at words which reinforce what he is learning to decode but this is the sum total of his spelling instruction for a boy who spells Mummy as Mumie and has been known to get 'the' wrong. The school does spelling through phonics groups but seems unable to see that encoding will lag behind decoding.
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Which is why I argue that phonics for spelling should continue strongly with a content-rich programme for Key Stage 2.
It's also another reason why I suggest the widespread use of Alphabetic Code Charts - helping to keep the notion of spelling alternatives uppermost in minds and provision.
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