January 31, 2015

Building Independent Spellers with a Spelling Word Card

Having access to a kid-friendly spelling resource is key for elementary writers. For a long time  I purchased a small spelling booklet for each student. I taught how to use it and modeled frequently. But here's the thing - kids rarely used it independently! Flipping through a booklet to find the correct spelling took more time than most kids were willing to invest.

During my Master's program I tackled this problem and created the Spelling Word Card - a simple, one page, kid-friendly spelling resource for middle and upper elementary kids. Over a four month period, I collected words students frequently asked how to spell. I combined those with their common spelling errors. I also picked words from the Dolch list my students had not yet mastered.

I've been teaching a while and have found it is the most efficient way to build independent spellers. The cards quickly become a well-used resource. Bent edges. Small rips. Lots of 'personality'. Love it!

Each child has his/her own card stock copy. There is a spot for a name so kids add words throughout the year. It becomes a personal word wall.

The following ideas help kids use them independently.

1. Introduce the card then play lots of games. Kids need to know the words included.
2. Expect students to have it out for any writing assignment in any content area. If you have a classroom economy, silently pass out 'cash' to anyone with the Spelling Word Card on their desk.

3. When a child asks how to spell a word ask "Did you look on your Spelling Word Card?" Most return to their desk and use it.
4. Some lil' stinkers will say "yes" - even when they didn't. But, you'll get a sense pretty quickly of the words included. Just smile and say, "Bring me your card and show me where should that word should be." Usually they don't come back.
5. If a word is not on the card I write on the white board and have them copy it onto the card. The helps create ownership.
6. Tell parents about the card and send a copy home.

Click the Spelling Word Card to get your own copy. Happy teaching!