Good spellers tend to use their knowledge of patterns in spelling.
Poor spellers produce simple letter-by-letter translations.
Approximately 95% of the most common phonograms (word families) are always pronounced the same way, so vowel patterns and clusters are fairly consistent.
Unfortunately, most spelling books try to show students all the different words produced by the same single or double vowel SOUND, rather than teaching one at a time, to mastery.
Some researchers have found that students learn to spell best with word families.
Our Learn to Read Bingo Games and our Reading Tutor Bingo Games reinforce this theory. The sequence of the games follows fairly closely with the usual progression of spelling books through the grades—consonants, consonant blends, short vowels, consonant digraphs, long vowels, advanced vowels, homonyms, syllables, affixes, morphemes.
English text changes about late third grade when a large number of Latin and Greek based words are introduced. Students in grades 4-6 need to be taught morphemic (meaning) and structural (syllables) analysis in the same systematic way as initial phonics and word family instruction.
Homophones are also a major source of spelling errors. See our Homophone Crossword Puzzles.
These strategies might be helpful in helping a poor speller:
- Provide help in how to look for patterns in the words
- Provide help in how to divide the words for easier spelling
- Provide help in looking for problem parts of words
- Memory tricks
- Meaning helpers
- Sorting, comparing, contrasting
- Give special emphasis to difficult and/or frequently misspelled words.
Teaching this format has been fairly effective for us:
LOOK – COPY – COVER – WRITE – CHECK – CORRECT
Some interesting research conclusions include these points:
- The learner correcting his or her own (practice) spelling test is the best way for students to improve spelling.
- Vowel errors are, by far, the most common errors.
- Homonyms are also common spelling errors.
- Difficult words are better learned when they are given special emphasis several different times.
- Several short sessions are more effective than one long session for studying.
See our free tip: High Frequency Sight Words for a more complete explanation of this method.
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