I am tutoring a first grader and we are struggling with ways to get her to pass her weekly spelling test. She knows about 25 of her 100 site words and is still at the beginning level of reading where she uses picture clues and sounding out. Her teacher assigns 10 spelling words every week and they don't have a pattern to them, so they all require memorization. For example: some of her words are: back, milk, reptile, vote, swing.
Here is how she spelled them on her test, even after a week of practicing them: "bac", "mlk", "rapal", "vot", "swng". As you can see, she is sounding them out and has many letters correct, but gets an "F" on her spelling test every week. She is in the Australian school system so it is a bit different then how I graded spelling when I taught first grade in the States. Any tips on how to help this first grader learn her spelling words in one week? The teacher has already threatened to have the child repeat 1st grade next year and the mother and daughter are devestated. We have to get her up to speed quickly!
P.S.- We have been trying spelling resources from Lynne's post in the community and those have been helpful. Despite the practice, the knowledge doesn't seem to be transferring over to her tests. However, I feel she is progressing nicely with her reading and writing and learns new words every day.
What if you and your student created a silly paragraph (print it out on the computer) using the 10 words and her ideas each week. You type her sentences and let her type the word, matching the letter to the keyboard keys. Perhaps make the word bold and enlarge the font. Print.
Next circle the shape of each spelling word to make its shape stand out (i.e., the word shape would be a circle hugging the word but obviously go up around the top of the h and down around the tail of the p.)
Make a matching set of cards with these same words and make a game of reading this paragraph, finding the matching card, and spelling the word until she can read the paragraph herself, match the words by shape, and spell the words.
Spelling and Reading have to go hand in hand. I'd work with the student to put her words into ReadWrite Think's Alphabet Organizer each week and enter the sentence she made up with each of the word. Make a book of her copies of the short silly paragraphs so she can read them and review words from previous weeks. This is a process not a weekly goal.
But, more importantly, let's go to the experts: ReadWriteThink has several good resources for Shared Spelling Strategies - http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/shared-spelling-strategies-48.html
I wish you and your young student the best. Keep it fun and help the Mom keep it fun. Don't let the teacher put a negative spin on the student learning to spell. Children learn differently. You just have to find the right combination of techniques for this student. She is very lucky to have you and the whole Thinkfinity Community brainstorming ideas for her. :-)
Some words can have pictures associated with them, some common words can be written and attached to the object within the home. It sounds like this student is can phonetically spell words but now we need the sight component.
Have you checked out the Electric Company (Unlock the Power of Words) - http://www.thinkfinity.org/the-electric-company resources in Thinkfinity for good reading tips that carry over into spelling. They have some wonderful videos that help with those multiple spellings options.
Let us know what worked for your student. Hope others will offer research based options of strategies for you to try. Enjoy seeing the process throught your student's eyes.
Thank you for answering Tammy's questions in such a thorough manner. The suggestions you provided were so logical and would, I assume, improve the visual and articulation functions. The brain works in mysterious ways when learning to read and write, but your advice in attacking the mis-spelling concepts in so many different ways was a beauty to behold.
Years ago, I taught our children to read and several of your suggestions were implemented in our daily drills and I can attest that they do work. This may not have anything to do with the visual concept of spelling, but the mental concepts are also enforced by playing rhyming games. Maybe you would suggest that this not be introduced to the student at this juncture, but her mother could begin the mental exercise of playing the rhyming game in the car when they are driving. Mother could start the game and say, what rhymes with hair... student might respond chair.... and they are off to the races.
Thanks again for your suggestions. I will log those in my bag of tips for training.
Thanks Karen! You are always filled with good ideas. I think having her mom work on rhyming games in the car is something that would work. Especially, if her big sister joins in, it will feel like a game. I can't wait for it all to just click, because I know it will soon since she is a smart little girl.
Thanks Jane! It is nice to have some new tricks. I have been tutoring this little girl for 2 weeks now and she really is bright, it is just she missed half of first grade since the Australian school year began in February and she just started in July. So she is 5 months behind others.
I agree that the key is to keep it fun. I think with the pressure, it feels almost like the little girl is being "punished" by having to go to tutoring 4 days a week. The mom and I thought that if I also tutor her older sister (4th grader) the first grader won't feel singled out. This way it can be seen as a fun event that her sister does too. Her sister has agreed to be in on this deal although she is ahead in her class.
We have used Construct-a-Word and Word Family Sort. These are helping with her begining and ending sounds and making her aware of patterns in words. Now, I just need those skills to transfer to her spelling words.
I will definitely keep you updated!
OMG!! GREAT news...the little girl I have been tutoring just earned 100% on her spelling test! We are so thrilled. We did a combination of strategies thanks to tips from Thinkfinity Community members. I think the two strategies that worked best were:
As you can tell, I am very proud of her. She went to earning 0% to 100% in just a few weeks. Thanks for helping!!