Saturday, July 26, 2014

Word Smarts: Managing Partner Spelling Tests in the Classroom

Hi Friends!
This is the third of four posts in a series I'm writing about spelling.  You can check out the other two here:  Individualized Spelling and Developing a Spelling Consciousness.  Today I am going to share with you how I manage partner spelling tests in my fourth grade classroom.  This might seem like a SCARY idea, but if you train your students well and stick to a routine, it will save you a lot of time.

Each of my students has an individualized spelling list each week.  The list has 5 words that correspond to the spelling focus for the week (a spelling rule or spelling pattern) and five "Words-to-Learn" from their writing.  Because I have up to 34 students it just isn't feasible for me to give a whole class spelling test.
Example page of the spelling lists I use in my classroom.  See below for more details.  
The first step to managing successful partner spelling tests is to match up spelling partners.  Partner your students based on their spelling and reading skills.  Partners will need to be able to successfully read their partners list to them, so having similar reading and spelling levels is helpful.

The second step to a smooth partner spelling routine is to model, ModEL, MODEL!  Model for students how to give and take a test well BEFORE you start your weekly spelling.  Have a student volunteer help you by acting out the procedure.  Model several times and have students model for each other.  Model the correct way to give a test and the "incorrect" way (example/non-example).

Here are the guidelines for my class (see video below) :

  • One student is the "giver" and one is the "taker".  The giver has the taker's spelling list in his/her hands.  
  • The TAKER sits at a table/desk with the spelling test sheet (I use notebook paper cut in half vertically).  
  • The taker writes his name, date, and list number at the top of the test paper and numbers the paper.  When he is ready for the first word, he raises his pencil as a signal that he is ready to begin.  .
  • The GIVER stands DIRECTLY behind the taker so that she cannot see the taker's paper.  When the taker raises his pencil, the giver tells the taker the first word.  
  • When the taker is ready for the next word, he raises his pencil once again and the giver gives the next word.  This continues until all words have been given.
  • When the test is complete, the GIVER takes the test from the taker, staples it to the right side of the weekly list, turns it in, and grabs a test paper for herself.  She returns to her partner and they switch roles.
  • When both partners have completed their tests, they come to the carpet to quietly read, write, draw, etc. until ALL students have finished taking their tests.  
Keys to Success:
  • The two students DO NOT talk to each other except to read the spelling words.  
  • The taker DOES NOT turn around and the giver DOES NOT look at the taker's paper until she/he takes it from them at the end.  
  • Students do not sit directly across or beside each other while taking the test.  They sit diagonally at tables. 
  • Privacy folders are helpful.  
  • If their is a question or concern about the test, students raise their hands and the teacher comes to help.  
  • The teacher roams the room to provide assistance and to monitor the testing.  
  • Have two areas in the room for stapling and picking up test sheets.
  • Practice, practice, practice!  
  • Have high expectations for following the routine.  

I hope that the information above has eased your mind about giving partner spelling tests a try in your classroom!

Thank you for visiting and if you are interested in knowing more about my "Word Smarts Year Long Spelling and Vocabulary" product on TpT, just click the link.

Here are links to the other posts in the "Word Smarts" series.

  1. Word Smarts:  Managing Individualized Spelling in the Classroom
  2. Word Smarts:  Developing a Spelling Consciousness in the Classroom
  3. Word Smarts:  Managing Partner Spelling Tests in the Classroom
  4. Word Smarts:  Instilling a Desire to Spell Correctly

I've linked them as I've posted them.  This is the third in the series.  If you are interested in the other topics, please follow me on Bloglovin, follow by e-mail, or bookmark my blog.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! Love this idea and the explicit directions/expectations...will be trying this tomorrow!