While I spent the better part of the last few months evaluating the resources and plans for approaching spelling in a new light, I needed to stop and consider how to implement. I tend to take things as slowly as is needed. Therefore, the lessons and assignments need to allow for generous amounts of time if needed. I would rather schedule less versus more. I believe strongly in the mastery of a skill, and I tend to carry this over to other academic areas outside of just math and grammar. These considerations are needed while developing a plan for attacking spelling, and I am primarily focused on an early logic-staged student, not a grammar-staged student.
I sat with the three resources: Simply Spelling, Dictation Day by Day, and The Modern Speller. I decided to personally start my student in varying levels and at various points in each in order to begin meeting weak areas. You need to choose your starting points. For example, Level C, mid-book, and Fifth Year are my starting points.
I printed How to Study Difficult Words from page 5 of Simply Spelling. The page is scaled to a smaller size so that it could be fixed to the backs of our spelling notebooks. I used clear contact paper. I laid the page face down on the clear contact, leaving an inch margin. I trimmed, where needed, to make the page look square. I pressed the contact paper to the back of the notebook. The contact paper acts much like laminating would in this instance, but it allows me to fix the page on a variety of different surfaces.
The two notebooks are a bit different. The first notebook is the weekly study. The second notebook will contain any daily assignments outside of the weekly study assignments from Simply Spelling.
I opted to print the books. I used fast draft and booklet printing. I bound the books by two-hole punches and paper prongs. It is not complex. I used clear contact paper to reinforce the covers. You could laminate too. I had this on-hand at the time. I divided Simply Spelling by level; therefore, they are bound seperately.
Weekly Study Example
1. Read the selection aloud for the student to digital media, i.e. create an mp3 or use a digital recorder.
2. Make copies of any needed handouts. Scale to a size that will allow the copy to be taped or pasted inside the spelling notebook. For example, an assignment may require for the first time that you divide a word into syllables. Print the sheet that explains how to divide a word. Paste or tape on the last page of the notebook. In a manner, this would be like creating an appendix for reference.
3. If a spelling rule is not included for copy-work, use the internet or a resource such as The American Spelling Book: Containing the Rudiments of the English Language, where the focus is strong on pronunciation and verbal development, or Webster’s Speller from which the student can copy the rule. There may be no need for a spelling rule. In most cases, the daily assignment will include this rule and the instructions will be to copy to your notebook. Additional rules for copy-work are at your discretion.
4. Have the student listen to the passage for the lesson. In the spelling notebook, on the first available line, skipping two lines between lessons and one line between daily assignments, label the assignment, i.e. Lesson 31 p57. Skip a line and label the days, i.e. Day 1. Follow the instructions for each daily assignment. For this lesson, you will divide words into syllables.
5. In addition to completing the assignments for each day, the student will listen to the passage being read, copy the passage, and read the passage aloud.
6. On the first day of the lesson, the student should pick out the words that they do not know or that are new to them and make a careful list in the notebook. Do not allow them to write the words without close scrutiny. Explain that they must check, recheck, and check again to ensure that the copied word is correct. The student is attempting to create a visual memory by studying the words. Incorrectly copying a word will defeat the study of the word form.
At this point, I have the list scribed into cursive too. A word will look different in print from its cursive relation. The plan is to be able to spell the word correctly in either cursive or print as well as complete dictation in cursive.
Follow the rules for how to study difficult words.
7. When the student feels ready to test, have them use the digital recording. They can test themselves in this manner as needed.
Study the passage for as long as is needed.
Complete no more than one studied dictation a week. Expect the first few weeks to take two weeks. This will make the transition to studied spelling much less stressful for the student.
Daily Studies Example
Dictation Day by Day or The Modern Speller
1. Choose a selection from your secondary resource, i.e. Dictation Day by Day, Fifth Year.
2. In the spelling notebook, label the entry with the daily lesson number, i.e. Lesson 1 p3, and skip a line.
3. Read the sentence(s) aloud. Write each word three times each, from the column on the right side of the page.
4. Copy the selection to the spelling notebook. Highlight the words in the sentence from the column on the right side of the page.
5. Say and spell each word aloud.
6. Write each word in cursive one time. Write the selection in cursive one time.
Complete 1 to 3 times a week as time permits.
Note: If you choose not to use Simply Spelling, incorporate methods for studying the selection, such as a digital recording, and complete a dictation test 1 or more times a week.
When you first begin to incorporate this type of studied spelling, I would begin with a weekly study. Slowly, add the daily practice to the week. Start with one and move towards 2 to 5. Time will be the deciding factor on whether or not you choose a daily lesson. The first day that you study the weekly dictation, you will not want to study a daily lesson. The first day is intensive because of the reading, listening, and evaluation of unknown words.
The last suggestion that I have is to define any word that is not known, regardless of where it is encountered in the resource or whether the child can spell the word or not. Add this word to the notebook with its dictionary meaning.