Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spelling Power

If you are a homeschooler looking for one spelling program that can last you from third grade through high school, Spelling Power may be for you. The author has created a program based on the idea that students should learn to spell the most frequently used and frequently misspelled words using a multisensory practice method.

You will need to spend an hour or two going over the instructions at the beginning of the book for using the program, but here are the basics:

A fairly simple pre-test allows you to place your child on the correct level in the eleven levels of words, no matter what the child’s age. The words are then organized within the levels by their usage of the 44 sounds used in the English language, often the vowel sounds. For instance, a group of words may all use the long E sound but the spellings will include ea, ee, y, ie, ei, ey, and eCe. (Isn’t English just grand?) As you begin each list, you discuss the “rule” for how that sound can be spelled.

Daily spelling practice in this program is 15 minutes long. For the first five minutes you give a pretest for the words on the current list your child is working on: You say the word, use it in a sentence, your child repeats the word, spells it on his/her paper, then says the word again, you spell the word correctly, and your child immediately corrects it of wrong. When you get to the end of five minutes or the end of the list, you stop testing. At this point, your child usually has 1-3 words to practice.

For the second five minutes, your child practices the words. A study sheet leads the child through a multisensory practice which includes examining the word for patterns, saying the spelling aloud, visualizing the word with eyes closed, and using large muscles to write the word on a textured surface. The child also uses the missed words in a sentence of their own creation. The next day, these missed words are the first to be tested.

The third five minutes is devoted to activities from a menu in the back of the book to reinforce spelling skills. I will admit that we to do not do this step, but we do use similar activities at other times of the week.

The program is meant to be daily, and I will also admit that we use it twice a week, which seems to work well for our family. The word lists appeal to my sense of organization and the program does seem to work better than the traditional study 20 words, test, and forget method. I appreciate it that only the incorrect words are studied and retested and that the practice process is multisensory.

To mix things up, we sometimes use the word lists in other ways as we work through them. For instance, we input them into a computer program designed to practice more traditional lists and my son does those activities instead.

I’ve found the book to be a worthwhile investment, and recommend it for families who want a short and simple spelling program. It would best suited for children who like the consistency of a repeated activity as the daily work varies very little from day to day.

Article by Heddi Craft

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