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Spelling is important. Now, this fact is debatable if you look at the i-gadgets of most tweens and teens (CU L8R), but CTO (that’s “check this out”): Spelling correctly is essential to proper communication and success in life. Misspelled words immediately bring a connotation of lower intelligence, leaving readers wondering if you’re TSTL. (“Too Stupid To Live”…and no, we’re not making up this netlingo.)
So, even if “Spelling Bee Champ” isn’t on a child’s radar, you can still encourage your students to become better spellers (and writers) with just a few simple tips:
1. Show them the importance of spelling.
Spelling correctly isn’t just for writing papers or acing spelling quizzes. Show students real-life (and fun) examples of how people use spelling.
For example, create a list of games or television shows where spelling is important: Scrabble, Wheel of Fortune, Boggle, Word With Friends (a popular iPhone ap game). Depending on your child’s age, you could let him or her watch a few rounds of the national competitions of spelling and geography bees, where students are expected to know (and often DO know) the spelling of obscure words and country names. Mucho impressivo.
2. Publish student writing.
Make your students’ worlds known to other people by publishing their work. Now, publishing used to mean printing and binding, but in our digital age, publishing is as fast (and free) as clicking that mouse.
Consider creating a class website or blog that features their written work. Include stories, journal entries, and graphic projects like comic-strip stories and photo essays (pictures with captions that tell a story or convey an argument or social message). To set up a class blog, just visit www.blogger.com and click through the steps: free and easy!
Writing with an audience in mind provides authentic accountability for spelling and grammar. Be sure to give children a writing/editing checklist (checking for spelling, run-ons, fragments, etc.) to help them proofread their work before hitting “publish” for the world to see!
3. Develop an interest in words.
Implement a “word of the day” segment of class to broaden your students’ vocabulary and spelling prowess. Here are some ways to spice up this idea:
- Learn the word in a variety of languages. Translate words from English to pretty much any other language in the world (Spanish, French, Tagalog, Swahili) at translate.reference.com. Point out how many Latin-based languages use similar spellings and pronunciations.
- Share the root word or word of origin.
- Use a thesaurus and dictionary to find appropriate synonyms and antonyms for the word of the day.
- Hold a “creativity contest”: the student who can correctly use the new word in the most inventive, creative, humorous or clever sentence is the Word Champ for the day.
Use clue words to help students spell other words. For example, if your student knows how to spell the word “telephone” but struggles writing the word “elephant” remind them that the /f/ sound is the same as in the word “telephone.”
5. Read stories aloud.
Studies show that reading aloud to students cultivates more interest in–and positive connotations with–reading and writing. Read aloud to your students, and have them read aloud to you, as well. The result? They’ll gain a better comprehension of and appreciation for the printed word.
In summary, while our world may be increasingly lazy when it comes to spelling, we can still present this necessary skill as relevant. CU L8R.
For a list of innovative spelling projects, posters, and instructional aids, check out www.schoolbox.com.
Diane Burdick, M. Ed. holds a masters in elementary education and a bachelors in history, and is currently pursuing her specialists degree with a concentration in teaching and learning. A homeschooling mother of three, she also enjoys freelancing for online publications.
Elizabeth D. Cossick, M. Ed. has a bachelors in education from The University of Georgia and a masters in curriculum and instruction from Lesley University, Cambridge. In addition to being the editor of A Learning Experience, she publishes Little Black Dress | Little Red Wagon Magazine. She resides in Atlanta with her husband, two young children, and a frisky Westie named Munson.