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Need a break from AAS: "Spelling Power" vs. "Spelling Plus" vs ????


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#1 TheAttachedMama

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 11:22 AM

Hi Everyone,

 

My 4th-grade son has always used All About Spelling.   (We've made it halfway through AAS 4 before ending 3rd grade.)    However, this year, he is going through some vision therapy which means I need to find the time to do 20 mins of VT homework with him each day for the indefinite future.    He is not my only child, so I had to cut something else off of our one-on-one schedule to make time for this VT homework.  After much contemplation, I decided that it probably made the most sense to replace spelling with something that doesn't require as much one-on-one attention from mom.   I think this is going to be the easiest thing to outsource.  (Our other one-on-one time will be spent on writing/grammar instruction, math, and VT homework).

 

To complicate matters, he always tests really poorly in spelling on his standardized tests.   Even though he seems to be retaining everything he is learning in AAS, he still tests at the 25th percentile in spelling when compared to his peers across the country.    I'm not sure why this is.   I think it is because he is not that good at editing and recognizing misspelled words in the text.  And I think another reason is that AAS doesn't introduce words by frequency.   (He missed a lot of words on the tests that he simply hadn't been taught in AAS before.)  I know that by the time we finally make it through all 7 levels of AAS, he will know how to spell the most commonly used words.   HOWEVER, in the meantime, he is just not spelling as well as most peers his age.......  

 

....which is not the end of the world.   I'm not teaching so he can do well on a standardized test.   I'm just a little worried about ditching spelling completely this year in place of vision therapy.   I would love for him to be able to make some ground in this area because I hate turning in these types of test scores into the state...you know?   I really like AAS, but my husband thinks I should switch to something else for his spelling.   I had a hard time coming up with a case to defend AAS...which may mean he is right. ;)    It takes an incredible amount of time and energy to teach---and it seems like the time and energy isn't really paying off.  

 

 (BTW--language is NOT my son's strong point.   He does NOT pick up spelling simply by reading a lot or doing copywork.   He needs explicit instruction and then it needs to be practiced a LOT for him to remember it.)   

 

This is my long-winded way of saying....   I need to replace AAS with something else that doesn't take very much one-on-one time from me....and I need it to be good.   :)      I am contemplating Spelling Workout and Spelling Plus.   However, I am also open to other ideas.   (I have looked at IEWs spelling program, but I was not impressed with the samples.)

 

My questions are:

1)   Which program do you think would help him "catch up" to his peers in spelling:   Spelling Workout or Spelling plus or something else?

 

2)    I am wondering how the spelling plus wordlist compares to spelling workout?I can't seem to find a master word list for Spelling workout.   I like all of the thought that was put into the spelling plus word lists.   I feel like if he could get those words down, he would probably spell most things correctly in his writing. 

 

3)  Spelling Workout seems to be the easiest to use independently.  How can I make spelling plus as independent as possible?   I know that he doesn't seem to learn by copying words.  (That may have something to do with his visual processing problems and maybe VT will help with that.)     I will, of course, have time to do pretests and post tests and explanation of rules, etc.   However, I simply won't have the time to help him practice all these words each day.   And I don't want to waste his time with busy work.   

 

 


Edited by TheAttachedMama, 22 July 2016 - 11:33 AM.


#2 luuknam

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:11 PM

I hate turning in these types of test scores into the state...you know?  

 

Do you have to? I'm not sure what state you're in, but we're in NY and all we have to put down is what test we gave, and that overall, the kid scored >33rd percentile. No requirement to go into details.

 

Could you have your oldest two quiz each other for spelling? Like, one reads a card, the other one writes down the word?

 

I'm afraid I don't have experience with other spelling programs. You could keep a list of misspelled words and have him practice those. Or just do review for AAS for a year since you really like it (does your son like it?). I personally really hate the standardized test spelling questions where the kid has to say which word is misspelled, or even which word is correctly spelled among other misspelled words, so I wouldn't care much for the scores on that (that said, my kids happen to be pretty good at that, but I don't want them practicing looking at misspelled words because I want them to have a picture of the correct words, and the more often they see misspelled words the worse, imo).



#3 Kiara.I

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:19 PM

See, I would expect that if he needs vision therapy, some of his spelling issues may be related to that. And by focusing on therapy you might see a jump in spelling ability even without doing any spelling, since much of spelling is visual memory.

Spelling workout (we tried it for two weeks) is pretty completely independent, but there's not that much practice and repetition in it.

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#4 JudoMom

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:24 PM

For independent spelling, I love Rod & Staff.  All I do is give a test after they do the exercises.  The exercises require more thought than those in other programs and I do not consider them busywork.  

I also think you'd be fine dropping spelling until after VT is completed. 

Also, it's common for spelling to not transfer from curriculum to writing until later elementary.  


 



#5 TheAttachedMama

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 12:35 PM

See, I would expect that if he needs vision therapy, some of his spelling issues may be related to that. And by focusing on therapy you might see a jump in spelling ability even without doing any spelling, since much of spelling is visual memory.

Spelling workout (we tried it for two weeks) is pretty completely independent, but there's not that much practice and repetition in it.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk

 

 

That is my hope, and why I am willing to invest so much time and money into VT this year!   He actually has really good visual memory.  (His visual memory compares to that of an average 12th grader when tested recently.)  

 

However, his ability to tell take in and process information visually is not that good.   What that means for spelling is that he often can't see that vessel is spelled vessle.   

 

I will look into Rod & Staff spelling.   Is there a placement test somewhere?



#6 fourisenough

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:08 PM

I think *I* would prioritize spelling instruction over grammar for such a child.

That being said, Rod & Staff spelling is SO much better than Spelling Workout, which I find to be worthless busy work.
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#7 TheAttachedMama

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 01:45 PM

I think *I* would prioritize spelling instruction over grammar for such a child.

That being said, Rod & Staff spelling is SO much better than Spelling Workout, which I find to be worthless busy work.

 

Given his test scores, would you just stick with AAS then?   Or would you switch programs?


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#8 MerryAtHope

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 04:32 PM

I think *I* would prioritize spelling instruction over grammar for such a child.

 

That's what I did choose to do for mine when he went through vision therapy. We continued with AAS but relaxed on some other areas of LA (which were a bit easier for him after VT. Sadly for mine, spelling never really became easy--it was hard work all the way through but it did pay off for us).

 

It's hard, but I tried not to get hung up on testing. Most standardized spelling tests are multiple choice, which are geared for the natural speller, and can be very troublesome for students who struggle with spelling. They see the multiple possibilities, and suddenly each one looks like a good possibility, and it gets confusing. Their mind tells them that logically “fusible” and “fusable” can both say the same thing. 

 
I tried to focus on improvement over time in daily work, and taking joy in notes having fewer and fewer errors over the years, things like that. 
 
I think it takes real guts to teach students with learning struggles, and my hat's off to anyone who takes on this challenge!

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#9 fourisenough

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Posted 22 July 2016 - 04:47 PM

Given his test scores, would you just stick with AAS then? Or would you switch programs?

I think I would. I'm a relatively new convert to AAS; my older three didn't need explicit spelling instruction, but I can already see that DD7 is going to need intensive spelling instruction (and she may never test well in this area). But I KNOW that eventually we'll get there. Her first grade spelling test results were in the single digit percentiles. I'm not panicking, but am certainly going to make it a high priority area.

#10 Lori D.

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 12:38 AM

My 4th-grade son has always used All About Spelling...

...this year, he is going through some vision therapy...

...most sense to replace spelling with something that doesn't require as much one-on-one attention from mom...

 

...he always tests really poorly in spelling on his standardized tests...

...he is just not spelling as well as most peers his age.......  

 

....I'm just a little worried about ditching spelling completely this year in place of vision therapy.

...I would love for him to be able to make some ground in this area...

 

Meaning this very gently and will all kindness: From your blog, it looks like your DS is 9yo and entering grade 4. This is still young to be stressing about "catching up with peers." He is still in the midst of those wildly fluctuating developmental spurts/delays. 

 

Many children at age 8-9 are just BEGINNING to be ready for spelling. And as far as standardized testing -- honestly, children are all over the map in test results (brains racing forward in developing in one area, while other areas are "in idle", and then another brain area shoots forward in development), until about age 10-12, when brain areas finally start to level out in maturing.

 

This is going to be compounded for your DS if his brain is struggling with language, and with vision therapy issues -- he's just not going to have a lot left for dealing with spelling. He can work on spelling a few years down the line when his brain matures and is ready for it AND once he's cleared the vision therapy hurdle, which will make reading, writing AND spelling a WHOLE lot easier for him.

 

Also, in the elementary grades, unless a child is a natural speller and strong with reading/writing, the majority of children can spell correctly for a spelling test -- BUT, they have not developed all THREE areas of the brain that are required for simultaneous thinking of what to write, the physical act of writing, AND simultaneous spelling and writing. MANY children in the elementary grades have not yet developed the brain maturity to go back and be able to correct misspellings in their words.

 

All that to say, PLEASE don't pressure yourself or your young DS with the idea that he is "behind" and needs to catch up. Be kind to yourselves, and devote the majority of both your energies toward the biggest need, which, at this time sounds like the vision therapy. :)

 

It is very wise of you to set aside the AAS. It is also VERY OKAY if you need to focus on vision therapy this year, to put spelling on the back burner this year. :)

 

 

... (BTW--language is NOT my son's strong point.

… He does NOT pick up spelling simply by reading a lot or doing copy work...

...He needs explicit instruction and then it needs to be practiced a LOT for him to remember it.)  

 

The problem may be AAS is not the best fit. But it can also be that DS's unique timetable of development is that the spelling portion of the brain is just not starting to mature yet. (Our struggling speller did not even BEGIN to start to "click" with spelling until age 12.)
 
He also may be a weak auditory-sequential learner, and spelling is an extremely sequential activity -- every letter must go in a specific left-to-right sequence for the word to be spelled correctly. If your student is strongly visual-spatial, then sequence/order is NOT his natural mode of intaking information or processing it in his brain -- he will be more random in order, which is a weakness for spelling, but a strength in problem-solving and intuiting big picture patterns.

 

One thing you could do to gently keep up some spelling while focusing on vision therapy AND to strength auditory-sequential skills is to take just 5 minutes a day for gentle oral spelling back and forth of 5-10 words per week from a 1000 most common words list. Incorporate Carol Barnier's "Toss It" idea -- you say the word correctly, spell it, and toss him a beanbag. He catches, says the word and spells it correctly to you and tosses the beanbag back. (Oral spelling helps strengthen weak auditory-sequential skills, and the "Toss It" helps with focus and anticipation / preparation.)

 

Or, maybe go at a very gentle pace through Phonetic Zoo next year. Phonetic Zoo from IEW is done almost entirely independently. Spelling is a very auditory-sequential activity, and an auditory program like PZ requires the student to hear the spelling letter by letter in correct sequence and helps build up weak auditory-sequential skills. (While we didn't use PZ, we did use ideas from Andrew Pudewa's Spelling and the Brain talk, as our struggling speller is highly visual-spatial, and doing out loud back and forth spelling practice helped strengthen his weak auditory-sequential skills and helped with spelling).

 

 

My questions are:

1)   Which program do you think would help him "catch up" to his peers in spelling:   Spelling Workout or Spelling plus or something else?

 

2)    I am wondering how the spelling plus wordlist compares to spelling workout?I can't seem to find a master word list for Spelling workout.   I like all of the thought that was put into the spelling plus word lists.   I feel like if he could get those words down, he would probably spell most things correctly in his writing.  

 

3)  Spelling Workout seems to be the easiest to use independently.  How can I make spelling plus as independent as possible?   I know that he doesn't seem to learn by copying words.  (That may have something to do with his visual processing problems and maybe VT will help with that.)     I will, of course, have time to do pretests and post tests and explanation of rules, etc.   However, I simply won't have the time to help him practice all these words each day.   And I don't want to waste his time with busy work.   

 

For your specific situation, I do NOT recommend Spelling Workout, unless you have a natural speller who is also a good independent worker, which it sounds like is not the case. SWO does not really explain spelling patterns, and is mostly practice through copy work and handwriting. At least for our average speller, it turned out to be "busy work" that did not stick, and he made no progress at all in standardized testing that year. :( For our struggling speller who also struggled with both handwriting and writing, it was a nightmare that we quickly dropped.


At least with the older editions of SWO that we attempted to use with the early elementary grades, it seems to have a pretty random word selection.

 

You also mentioned Spelling Power in your subject heading, and mentioned liking the word lists… I'd only go with Spelling Power for a student who is an average or a natural speller. NOT a good match for a student who is sensitive or a perfectionist. Not much in the way of explanation of spelling patterns, and it really beat down our average speller who felt like he was constantly being tested with no ability to see the words or practice them in advance -- the method of SP is to "test" the student each day with a list of words, and the student accumulates misspelled words until there is a long enough list to practice, and then the week is spent practicing those words and testing at the end of the week. Tests, tests, tests…  :crying:  :eek:

 

No familiarity with Spelling Plus, but check out these past threads -- it looks like it is writing-heavy (which would have made that a no-go with my spelling struggler/writing struggler), AND that for best results you also need the accompanying dictation book -- which would require time from you for dictation.

 

"Has anyone used Spelling Plus: 1000 words toward spelling success?"

"Tell me how to use Spelling Plus with the Dictation book"

"If you use Spelling Plus…"

 

... (BTW--language is NOT my son's strong point.

… He does NOT pick up spelling simply by reading a lot or doing copy work...

...He needs explicit instruction and then it needs to be practiced a LOT for him to remember it.)  

 

…  I know that he doesn't seem to learn by copying words.

 

From your comments here, I'd say that Spelling Plus may not be the best fit for your DS's learning style for spelling / language arts. But, again, no personal familiarity with it, so check out those linked threads with actual user experiences.

 

And that's pretty much all SWO does for practice -- copying words or writing the words from memory.

 

Spelling Power has a big list of ways of practicing words -- oral, tactile, and visual. Some require more mommy time than others.

 

 

For largely independent work that is not busy work, my choices would be, in this order:

1. 5 minutes a day of oral back and forth spelling (5 minutes of your time with him each day)

2. Phonetic Zoo (virtually all independent -- student listens on headsets)

3. Megawords (workbook and writing syllables; probably 5 minutes daily of your time to explain the worksheet and then grade it)

 

More about Megawords:

Mostly done independently by the student. Teaches vowel patterns and syllabication rules for breaking a word into "bites" for spelling attack. Geared for grades 4 and UP, and there are 8 books (most students finish a book in less than a year, so you can start into the next book in the same school year). Yes, you DO need the teacher book, as it has the list of syllables you need to dictate to the student (about 1 out of every 4 work pages). See samples here. HOWEVER -- if your student is "behind" you may really want to wait until 5th grade to start this program -- starting in book 3, the word patterns get harder, and throughout the books, many of the words in the word lists are strong enough/tough enough to be good vocabulary words even for middle school and high school students, since the program is geared to be be used by older students.

 

 

Just my 2 cents worth! BEST of luck in finding what works for you! Wishing you the very best! Warmest regards, Lori D.


Edited by Lori D., 24 July 2016 - 11:07 AM.

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#11 EmmaNZ

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 06:11 AM

 

 

 

 

 

Just my 2 cents worth! BEST of luck in finding what works for you! Wishing you the very best! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Lori, you always give the most helpful advice. It is much appreciated.

 

Emma (another mother of a struggling speller)



#12 Ellie

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 12:12 PM

Spelling by Sound and Structure (Rod and Staff Publishers).



#13 Terabith

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 01:21 PM

I would probably go with Phonetic Zoo. Independent and AAS 3 is the prerequisite.

#14 luuknam

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 01:38 PM

Btw, here's a spelling test that does not involve picking the correctly (or wrongly) spelled word out of a list of multiple choice items:

 

http://www.bhibooks....stic_Test_1.pdf

 

FWIW, 25th percentile is still considered "low average" - it's lower than I like to see, but 1 in 4 kids spells worse than that - it's not scarily low, especially since you think VT might make a difference.



#15 Kat w

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 07:23 PM

I didn't read the previous comments but, spelling workout is pretty independent.

I would be out of my league to recommend anything BC of the VT .

But, so. Workout is independent .

#16 jgrabuskie

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 01:02 PM

I have a 20-year-old who has eye tracking issues. We went through VT. Did all the exercises. I retaught him how to read, spell etc. Spelling is still a problem. At some point, you may have to say it is as good as it gets and go forward. By the way, he made it to college, writes beautifully, and is highly intelligent. He just can't spell cardboard box. Hopefully, he won't have to spell his way out of it!


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#17 Abeilles

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Posted 08 September 2016 - 06:23 PM

I'm hoping the VT will help with some of the academic issues, including spelling. I like R&S Spelling for an independent spelling program.