Monday, May 18, 2009

Topic: Spelling, the Dreadful Ordeal (4)

10-second review: Selecting and introducing the words for spelling instruction.

Title: “In the Age of Computers, Is Spelling Still a Worthwhile Subject in the English Curriculum?” Raymond Stopper. Teaching English, How To…. Xlibris. 2004.

Selecting and Introducing the Words for Spelling Instruction

Usually, I would put the ten words for the week on the board without explanation. The words were all related because of the same problem in their spelling. Students then decided on what the spelling problem was and tried to formulate a generalization. We would also try to decide the best method for remembering how to spell them.

For example, suppose I listed the following words on the board: “accessory”; “accidentally”; “accommodate”; “accompany”; “accrue”; “address”; “apparent”; “attendance”; and “attorney.” Students would recognize that each word contains at least one double consonant. The best method for attacking this problem might be “over-pronunciation”: “ac-cess-ory.” The “or” would also be “over-pronounced” because it presents the problem of a vowel that could be almost any other vowel.

These ten words would be the only words for the week, and the students would have a test on these ten words every day of the week. Since, as the reader will note in the columns below, I have in reserve 54 words with the same problem, a different ten words, all representing the same spelling problem, would be used each week for the next 5 or 6 week.

I took my time to try to help students achieve mastery, not only of the words, but also of the spelling problem. By the way, marking the tests at night, even if all of my classes were involved with spelling instruction, required less than fifteen minutes. Almost all the tests were spelled correctly.

Sample Schedule of Spelling Instruction:

Spelling Problem: Double Consonants.

Week One: accessory, accidentally, accommodate, accompany, accrue, address, apparent, attendance, attorney, banana. (The last word, “banana” does not have a double consonant. Use the trouble spot method: “ba-NAN-a.” “NAN had a ba-NAN-a.”

Week Two: battalion, beginning, cinnamon, committee, disappear, disappoint, dispel, dissatisfied, embarrass, equipped.

Week Three: erroneous, especially, exaggerate, harass, hemorrhage, irresistible, missionary, molasses, necessary, occasion.

Week Four: occurred, offense, omitted, parallel, politically, possess, preferred, recess, recommend, remittance.

Week Five: repellent, scissors, squirrel, succeed, success, tariff, tenement, threshold, withhold, tobacco.

Week Six: vaccinate, villain, warrant, accessory, attorney, occasion, necessary, embarrass, recommend, occurred.

A good many of these words with double consonants also needed the trouble spot/association assistance to visualize troublesome parts of the words in addition to the double consonants. That was part of the fun of how to remember the words.

The following week, we would begin with a new examples of the spelling problem or a new spelling problem.

Next blog: Words Frequently Misspelled.

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