Spelling Workshop is a way of meeting the diverse needs of all of the spellers in your classroom. I designed my spelling workshop (described below) based on the research of J. Richard Gentry.
According to Gentry, a spelling program should incorporate the following:
a systematic study of spelling patterns
attention to the developmental aspects of spelling
connection of spelling to reading and writing
Gentry says, “It’s easy to judge if a good spelling program is part of an elementary classroom. Simply ask, ‘Are children in this classroom engaged in the spelling process: finding words, inspecting words, mastering words, and developing good spelling habits?’” (Gentry, 1995).
For more information on this subject, check out Richard Gentry’s Website. It contains research on spelling, spelling activities, and a list of his resource materials.
Following is a sample week’s schedule for spelling workshop. You can also view a slide show presentation of the weekly schedule:
- Pretest all students on 8-12 “pattern” words. I use the words in my district’s spelling series. You may also use your own word lists. Determine the patterns you would like to focus on and create a core list of grade level words for each week. The following resources include appendices with lists of pattern words:
- Students self-correct their pretests in red pencil using the “circle-dot” method. Dictate the correct spelling slowly. Students put a dot under each correct letter on their papers and circle the incorrect letters.
- Students create individual spelling lists consisting of half pattern words which they misspelled on their pretests and half “green pen words” (words misspelled in their own writing). I use 6-8 words. [Note: For the outstanding spellers in my classroom who do not misspell any words on the pretest, I allow them to choose all green pen words or I provide them with a more challenging list of words.] They write their lists on the back of their individual spelling assessment sheet (download below).
- A parent volunteer and I check each student’s list for misspellings. Students then write their words on a take-home sheet (download below) and in their spelling folders to use later in the week. These lists are also checked before being put away.
Monday and Tuesday
On these two days we concentrate on high-frequency (word wall words) and on spelling patterns and strategies. We do many of the activities on individual dry erase boards.
Partner Quizzes Students exchange spelling lists with their spelling partners, take clipboards anywhere in the classroom, and decide who will be quizzed first. Quiz givers call out each word and use it in a sentence, while the quiz taker writes the word. Partners may not give each other hints. If a quiz giver can’t read a word, he may ask the teacher for help. When the partners finish the first quiz, they reverse roles and repeat the process. Each student then brings his quiz to the teacher or a parent volunteer to score and record on his spelling assessment sheet. Students graph their results in their spelling folders. For more information see Partner Quizzes.