Sunday, August 3, 2014

Word Smarts: Instilling a Desire to Spell Correctly

Good Morning, Friends!

Sometimes spelling errors can be funny, but as a teacher one of my biggest struggles is to motivate my students to spell correctly in their daily work.  They study for their weekly tests and put effort into their final drafts, but in every day writing many students don't see the need to do their best spelling.

So, how do you instill a desire to spell correctly in your students?

I posted this question on a forum for teachers.  I wanted to hear what other professionals do in their classrooms to bring out the best spelling in their students.  Here are some quotes:

"Model, model, model.  If kids see you thinking about your spelling during your work as a writer and can listen in (think alouds) to what you are thinking about when it comes to spelling they will begin to take these habits on.  Keep this in mind..."If I'm not modeling it, I'm not teaching it."  It takes repeated modeling and gradually releasing responsibility over to them. " ~Roots and Wings

"I've seen teachers give their students their own personal "dictionary" (it's just a blank packet with lines; each page has a letter). They stick it in their desk or writing folder. Every time they're unsure of a spelling, they can look in their dictionary, and if it's not in there, they can get up and ask the teacher. The teacher writes it in there (or tells them how to spell it and they write it) and then it's there for future use." ~The Pioneer Teacher

"I haven't tried it, but I think it would be really cool to have a class blog with students' writing.  When they finish a piece, they get to post it on the blog.  In order for for their work to be considered, all spelling and grammar has to be correct because it will be published in a public place.  I think this makes the work more authentic because it's for an authentic public audience.  This way, students can take ownership of the content and format of their writing and will be more motivated to do it correctly!  This is just an inkling of a thought in my mind, so I have no idea if it would be successful or not.  But it makes sense to me!  I'm doing it with my next class!" ~Wyckoff"s Workshop

"With older students, I tell them that something needs to be fixed and that there are lots of resources that can help them do it (a dictionary is the last resource that they should be reaching for) - There are anchor charts hanging around the room, other pieces of writing that this student has available to look at, notes of spelling strategies that we have studied, and peers.  Then I send them on their way to fix it.  This makes me sound like a grammar Nazi, but it also models for the student that I value correct spelling and they should too.  It also helps the student to understand that there are many ways to solve this problem. When students discover for themselves, that learning is more solid than if I had told them how to fix that word. ~Vermont Teacher

In my own classroom:

  • I model for students my "spelling consciousness" daily.  I am constantly circling and thinking aloud when I come to a word I am unsure I spelled correctly.  
  • I make sure students understand that their spelling grades are based, not only on their weekly spelling, but also on their spelling on daily work.
  • I edit a lot of their writing and give them lists of words to add to their personal spelling journals and their weekly individualized lists.  
  • I try to publicly praise, encourage, and give positive comments to students who show that they value spelling correctly to the best of their ability. 
  • I try to value spelling consciousness as much as spelling correctly.  I want students to show that they are working to become more AWARE of when a word is spelled incorrectly and make efforts to use a resource to spell the words the right way.  
  • I've tried incentives on weekly spelling lists, but haven't yet tried them on daily work.  Since it is daily work that I am most concerned about, I am debating if and how an incentive system might work.  Of course I want students to be intrinsically motivated to spell their best and be conscious of their spelling, but sometimes a bit of incentive helps.  
As you can tell from this series of blog posts, spelling is a real conundrum for me.  I would love any advice, comments, or insights into how spelling is handled in your classroom.  Please leave a comment below.

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

This post is the final post in the series.  I hope you'll go back and check-out the other three.

Thank you for visiting!

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