Spelling can be fast tracked by building a solid foundation. This process can be likened to building a house. Builders make certain that the base of the structure is solid, this is checked by councils and engineers so that the building stands firm through all seasons. A similar process applies to spelling.Checking children’s basic spelling skills makes certain that the spelling program is being built on a solid base that supports growth using sequential lessons and explicit teaching. Spelling fast tracked is simple with these easy steps.
Foundation of Spelling Success
The cement and gravel foundation for Spelling is Phonological Awareness. Consider the results of a Year Three child, I tested recently. She spelt the word van as ven, jam as jem and plan as plen. This looks like a simple problem. BUT being the detective that I am I knew that the problem would be deeper. AND I was right. In the phonological awareness testing, this student was unable to identify the middle sound in a word. This means that when I said the word, jam, the child was unable to tell me the middle sound /a/, not the letter’s name, the sound.
Further, this is not the only problem. The child is having vowel discrimination difficulties e.g being able to identify the difference in the sounds of /a/ and /e/ and then being able to write the letter that matches that sound. Spelling will not improve unless this problem is corrected. The child must be able to hear the difference between the vowel sounds before writing or making words. I call this tuning the ears. Here is a simple trick to fast track this child’s difficulty.
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The chin goes down bit by bit as the vowel sounds are said in this order on the above chart. The best trick is to work on two vowel sounds at a time. For the student above these vowel sounds would be the /e/ and the /a/ sound. Remember there are no letters only sounds. I use the vowel chart to help the student. Firstly, have the child practise saying the sounds /e/ and /a/.If they place their hand under the chin and watch in a hand mirror as they say these two sounds they can see as well as hear and feel the difference between the /e/ and the /a/ sounds. The position of the chin can be correlated to the positioning of the vowels on the vowel chart. This will all require practice and more practice. Using the mirror, the vowel chart and the hand positioned under the chin helps with vowel discrimination when difficulties identifying sounds is recognised.
Success follows practice in any area of learning so, now, we must move to daily practice to improve this child’s spelling. Included below is a list of one syllable words that have the /e/ and the /a/ sounds. Remember, don’t show any letters or expect the child to write the words. This exercise is only about the ears. Firstly, we stretch out the words so that the child can identify the vowel easily through their ears. Then as the child improves in this skill, the word is spoken and the child identifies the sound.
Step by step progress
1. The teacher says one of the two sounds /e/ & /a/ at a time and ask the child to point to the letter on the vowel chart. Make sure that the child uses his hand under his chin, the vowel chart and a hand mirror. Practise this strategy until the child is competent.
2.The teacher says the word, bet
3.The teacher stretches the word bet….. b-e-t.
4. Have the child place his hand under his chin and look in the mirror.
5.The child stretches out the word
6. The child points to the corresponding letter on the vowel chart.
7.Continue with a few words in this way each day.
This simple process leaves the complexity of handwriting and spelling separate and allows the child to focus totally on the spelling strategies.
This process can be used with any vowels BUT remember that this problem can be fixed and you can fast track spelling with this one strategy. The problem is intimately related to tuning the ears. If the foundation is not solid the building will collapse. Working with phonological awareness on a daily basis, will build solid spelling progress where spelling knowledge will increase as basic skills are learnt.
List of the sound /a/ words: lap,tap,bat, bad, ram, rat, mad, rag, bag, pat
List of the sounds /e/ words:bed,beg,bet,led,set,met,let,web,yet,vet, den
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Ann Foster is a teacher with a unique talent to provide back to basics step by step programs/products and tutoring for students in Australia and overseas.
Her programs and products help children, teachers and parents to achieve extraordinary results quickly. She has a track record of bringinginto action programs that are easy to follow and that achieve results. They are tried and proven and bring clarity out of chaos.
Ann has been working online teaching students and adults successfully for the last four years and has taken children from average to well above spelling, reading and writing results.
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