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Friday, 16 October 2015

But what about their spelling?

So often I am asked as I speak about working in a digital immersion environment:  What about their spelling?  Spelling is getting worse, because of spell check!

I understand this concern...but...I don't agree with it.

Here are my most current spelling results from this year.  This was from the Schonell Spelling Assessment, which gives a raw score out of 100 and then converts that to a spelling age.  ALL students in my class have improved in spelling this year (I haven't included students names and read across the rows and we didn't test students in Term 3).  Some, have improved as much as TWO spelling years in one year.  I am so happy as a teacher and think my students are all rock stars.

So how did this happen?  I have some hypothesis about this.  Firstly, I do not give 10 random words each week that students take home to practice, and I do not test students on Fridays.  I think this is because I remember the anxiety I had and the fake ticks and signatures I would put into my mini notebook - you know the ones!  What I do, do and what I think may have contributed to this is...

  • Have 'spelling' time every day for at least 15 minutes this occurs after teacher read, but before Writing time.
  • Give students spelling words that are related to the topic (if appropriate) and ensure these words will occur at other times in the week e.g. inquiry, reading, writing and maths time.
  • Students are exposed to far more text in a digital immersion classroom and are constantly reading, viewing, listening - and creating, writing, speaking and sharing.  They are posting to blogs and responding to blog posts from friends.  This is alongside given texts such as journals or posters from around the room.
  • Text rich environment - lots of words on our walls!
  • Word study during reading tumble times (when they're not with me or completing follow up tasks) including:  Chunky Challenge, Word Webs, Magic Boxes.
  • Spelling practice time is self managed where students can choose from a range of tasks and they generally have fun - no pressure and no anxiety over 'spelling time.'  
I know that Standardised testing has its friends and enemies, but it is affirming to know that your hard work makes a difference sometimes!  It's not about ego - it's about knowing that my students are ending the year in a better position they started the year in.  In decile 1a teaching environments - seeing these shifts in achievement are gifts better than any bottle of wine or voucher or mug.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kyla,

    This post is a great point of reflection for myself, as I am sometimes challenged about the effect 'spell check' can have on my learners. It is great to see that hard work, a text rich environment and an excellent spelling programme can nullify any effects of 'spell check'.

    P.S: It was awesome to meet you and Willy on Friday! Be great to keep in touch. My email is