Spelling Words

Rachel Owens


Rationale:  To help the students focus on the pronunciation of a word before seeing its spelling which helps the student to understand that a spelling is a meaningful map of the pronunciation. I want the student’s to learn how to spell words and not just memorize the spelling.

Materials:  a list of 10-12 spelling words mono and polysyllabic, paper, pencil


Introduce the 10-12 spelling words. “Class we will be learning how to spell words today starting with your spelling words for this week. I am going to give you a simple procedure to help you remember how to spell words.”

Have each student say each word with the teacher.

“We know that each letter represents a sound, some more than one sound. Watch my mouth as a say some letters. (Say the letter ‘r’, ‘f’, ‘m’) Do you see how my mouth is different for each letter? Well we are going to learn that with each letter and mouth move, we can remember how to spell words.”

Give the step-by-step procedure.

1. First, examine the mouth moves.                                               Example

2. Say the word.                                                                        night
Say the syllables if there are more than one.

3. Stretch the word.                                                                  /nnnIIIt/
Work syllable by syllable with polysyllabic words.
If a phoneme can't be stretched, exaggerate it.
4. Segment (split up) the phonemes.
Work by syllables if necessary.
First phoneme?                                                                          /n/
Next phoneme? etc.                                                                   /I/
Last phoneme?                                                                           /t/

5. Count the phonemes.                                                            3
6. Draw blanks.                                                                        __  ___  __
The blanks stand for the phonemes.
Put slashes between syllables.

Next, learn the spelling.

7. Record the spelling phoneme by phoneme.
On the first blank, write [letters]                                              n  ___  __
On next blank, write [letters]                                                    n  igh  __
On last blank, write [letters]                                                      n  igh  t
If there are silent letters, caret them in.

8. Write the word in your best cursive handwriting.             night

9. Study the spelling.
Ask what a pattern] says  OR                                                    What does igh say?
Ask about how a phoneme is spelled OR                                How do we spell /I/ in night?
Ask what we need to remember about the word.                    What's tricky about night?
Only ask about tricky parts.

10. Give the meaning.
What does ___ mean?                                                                When it's dark out.

(When you see the students getting the hang of this procedure, ask if there are any steps they can skip to spell the word faster).

(I would make a sign to put on the wall giving the steps in a simpler form)

1. Say
2. Stretch
3. Split up
4. Count
5. Draw blanks
6. Record
7. Write
8. Study
9. Give meaning

5. After going through the steps, saying them to the children, “show” the steps to the students. Say a word out loud to the class. Start with the first step and continue through the last. Have the students help you in this process. “The word is calm. Say the word with me. /calm/. Lets stretch the word /cccaaalllmm/. Now we can split up the word /c/a/l/m/. We are going to count the sounds we hear. /c/ /a/ /l/ /m/. How many? 4. Next we are going to write the sounds we hear in blanks. _ _ _ _. (Write blanks and sounds onto the board to model for students). I am going to write this word in my best handwriting (cursive if older grades). Look at the spelling of our word. What do we notice about the sounds and the letters that represent the sounds? What letter(s) make the ‘m’ sound?  What does this word mean? (a state of tranquility, to be stable, still). (Make sure students understand meaning of the words they spell).

6. Make sure students understand this process by asking comprehension questions like “What is the first step? What comes after splitting up?

7. Have the students work on the rest of their spelling words using this procedure. Have them write out each step like the class did on the board.

The teacher will assess by taking up their papers and looking for each step of the spelling process. She will make sure each student has done every part of each step in the process.

Reference: Murray, Bruce. “How to teach Spelling”. 15 October 2005.

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