Spelling Moving From How to Why

The topic of spelling is one that seems to be talked about at great length.  Two different sides exist: One side believes in and values spelling lists that drive weekly tests. The other side believes that spelling should be taught in context and within real life work.  


  • Spelling is an area that we keep coming back to:
  • How do you make students care about using correct spelling?
  • How can we motivate them to use the tools we provide so they may self-edit their work?
  • How can we make them accountable?
  • Is it too much for them to maneuver being a creative writer trying out new strategies and being a good speller?


We believe that spelling is only truly learned when it is meaningful to the children.  We believe this because time and time again students are given weekly spelling lists and tests scoring a perfect score at the end of the week.  However, this does not transfer to their writing and they are still not spelling these words correctly.  We  understand the reality is that our children are growing up in a world with technology and spell check.   How can we use this understanding to drive our efforts to make our children more aware of spelling words correctly?

Spelling is rough.  What if we had students work within a small part of the writing process and then take that writing and transcribe it into the computer?   Chances are they would undoubtedly see all the red squiggly lines and that would draw their attention to the importance of spelling.  Or, how about using interactive writing linked to your read aloud so students can experience the editing process collectively?  Maybe we can incorporate writing tools so students can be more independent – that’s another scaffold.  Another way to hit this is to do a shared reading that focuses on common prefixes and suffixes.  List:suffixes https://www.pinterest.com/pin/201606520791180379/ Roots: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/268949408972019020/

So how did it go?

I tried the shared writing idea, but didn’t link it to the read aloud.  There was an opening in our day to just try out a shared writing experience.  Well, since we have been having a lot of snow, the kids were very motivated to do a shared writing involving snow. I shared the pen with one student and passed it around until everyone had a turn.  We focused on connecting our ideas, and when we finished we did a choral read of the story.  Then we went sentence by sentence to see if anyone noticed that there was anything incorrect (spelling/punctuation).  Kids were very happy to share, and the whole experience was very inclusive.  The kids who made the errors were the ones who actually noticed their own errors.  They discovered how while getting their ideas down on the page they were focused on the creative process but they realized how the editing process was also so important.  When they took the time to really reread it the errors popped right out. Now that this was completed we decided upon a title:“A Taste of Snow”


This piece would make a lot of sense to Ralph Fletcher they were really writing this to please their audience:


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