Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vocabulary and Spelling


Vocabulary and Spelling

   I was going to answer a question posed this week by Teaching in the Fast Lane,, and found myself involved in a very long post.  Then thought...THAT IS IT!! Make it part of your blog!! Fantastic way to get back into blogging. (More on my last year and why I have been absent from blogging another time.)

   The question posed was simply wanted ideas on how to conduct spelling and vocabulary.
To see her actual question and responses use the link above.

   First, I believe there should be two discussions.  Vocabulary and spelling can coincide once in a while but in general they are two separate identities.  Vocabulary is about the understanding/knowledge of the word meaning. I use Anita Archer's explicit vocabulary strategies, which have transformed my teaching!! Here is one example of her work.  You can search and find many others.

   There are times that vocabulary and spelling coincide. When learning word parts (prefix, suffix...) you may have a word from the vocabulary that can be used for spelling. However, spelling list should be generated from words that the student will be using in writing regularly.  Primary and approaching upper elementary students should be using word families and commonly misspelled words. They still need a firm foundation. The on level and above upper elementary students usually look into spelling patterns involving multisyllabic words. 
    With all that said, the way I have found to get the best bang for the buck is when I have used individualized lists.  This is not how I did it last year since the district wanted us to try L to J,  I do love the graphing and the idea of review and preview/spiral.  This is a phenomenal approach for average and some lower students.  It did not challenge my high students because they knew all the words already. My lowest students were frustrated until I modified each week to only 10 words.  I ended up managing 3-4 lists each week.  YUCK!

   My individualized lists give the students responsible for maintaining the lists.  Yes, there are a1-3 students whose spelling folder  needs to be kept safe or a copy made once in a while. However, in general, it is mainly the student's responsibility as 4th/5th graders to manage the list.


  As whole class instruction 2-3 times per week, have mini lessons/activities dealing with a pattern. There are several active games or interactive techniques.  I have a list of words that follow the pattern (10-15 words) usually found from reading series and the internet.  I have to always find the more challenging words for a pattern on the internet.  Our series lacks in depth of knowledge.   Everyone has a differing amount that they need to include on their list from this list. (I wish I would have thought of this while I was teaching...I would add a picture here!)  Then the remaining list (dependent upon grade level and ability level) are words from a list they have which includes word wall words and multisyllabic taught 3rd and under (list previously mentioned). They keep track of missed words from past lists and from writing assignments.  These are the words they utilize for filling in the remaining list.
    Research shows that students should only have 6 new words per week. ( Dr. Lee Jenkins, the developer of L to J has information if you would like to know the research.)  The rest should be words they have been exposed to previously. SO...a list of 20 would include 6 new words and 19 review words.  Repeated exposure being the key.  Another key is that the students do not know which of the previously taught word wall words or patterns will come up again.  I am still working on how to involve that portion of L to J with the individualized lists.

  I like using Spelling City for ease of grading and allows for practice opportunities. This coming year I will be using Spelling City's new individualized testing.  It comes at a cost, however.  I have not played with it as of yet, therefore, unsure how it will really work.  Sounds great on the site but we all know how that can go! 
   The last component of the process other than the mini lesson  and Spelling City are the contracts. You can find many contracts through Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest and other teacher created materials websites.  Mine are differentiated by giving choice of activities and there are 3 levels. Once my school computer can send e-mails again, I will attach a link here.
   Thank you, Teaching in the Fast Lane for providing me with the impetus to get my blog back up and running.

NOW.... If you made it to the end of this too long post...WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?  Do you agree/disagree?  Do you have any sparks of inspiration?  I cannot wait to hear what you are doing with instruction of spelling!! I always LOVE new ideas and inspiration.