Smart Answers to Tough Questions...

Oct 1, 2010 by

Yesterday I wrote about a question many of our students ask us when they are writing:  “How do you spell…?”  I also shared some insights on invented/temporary spelling and ways to encourage our children not to rely on us when they are drafting.  That made me think of another issue this question raises.  What do you do when a parent or an administrator questions a teaching practice that you know is best for children?  What would you say if a parent said, “My child brings home stories she’s written that are full of spelling errors.  She spells words the way they sound.  You didn’t write any corrections on her paper so she’s being taught bad habits.  Why not make her copy words over and over until she gets them right?”  Even if you know...

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“But how do you spell…?”...

Sep 30, 2010 by

If you teach young children, you probably hear this question on an almost-daily basis.  I am often asked by teachers, “What do you do when children refuse to write unless they know the correct spelling?”  This is a really important question that I will attempt to answer here.  First, let me remind you of the importance of encouraging children to “sound out” or “invent” the spellings of words they don’t know.  According to expert spelling researcher Richard Gentry,  the practice of inventing spelling leads children to consciously try to hear the sounds in words so they can match letters to the sounds. Invented spelling is an excellent way to further develop phonemic awareness (Gentry, 2000) which we know is critical for early reading success. Research shows that invented spelling can have a positive effect...

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Developmental Spelling Stages

Oct 11, 2009 by

Children progress through spelling stages on their literacy journey.  Richard Gentry lists these five stages of development: Stage 1 – Precommunicative Stage 2 – Semiphonetic Stage 3 – Phonetic Stage 4 – Transitional Stage 5 – Conventional Follow this link to read more about these developmental spelling stages. View samples of student writing at the 5 stages. Share...

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Developmental Spelling Inventory...

Oct 11, 2009 by

Richard Gentry developed an inventory, sometimes called the “monster test”, which is a quick and effective way to determine a child’s developmental spelling stage.  For complete directions and other resources follow the links below. Directions for Developmental Spelling Assessment Download Blank Inventory Form Share...

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Sound Boxes

Oct 11, 2009 by

I have found this technique to be extremely effective with my young spellers who have not developed full phonemic awareness.  It helps them train their ears to hear each part of a word and eventually be able to represent each sound with a written letter.  View a slide show demo of sound boxes. Draw a rectangle with three boxes. Say a familiar word composed of three sounds such as cat, sun, dog, pan. It is helpful to show children pictures of these objects. (I cut short vowel pictures from an old phonics workbook and laminated them). The child says the word, stretching out the sounds. The child pushes a chip into each box as he says the sound. It is important to note that the boxes represent sounds (phonemes) not letters. The words cake...

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