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Spelling/phonics help for a 6th grader


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My oldest wouldn't sit still for phonics - whole language worked, so we went with it. Now, 11yo is a voracious reader, with a huge vocabulary, but spelling is still somewhat weak. Sometimes this dc has a hard time sounding out new words that seem to be fairly easy, even though other difficult words are read just fine.


SWO was a bust. We've been working with a spelling list I found online, but the rules aren't presented well with that. I'd like to find something that explains the rules clearly and has minimal busy work. What do you recommend to help this child spell and sound out new words? Thanks for any suggestions!

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Apparently your 6th grader and mine are twins who were separated at birth! ;)


I was looking at the Apples Spelling Curriculum. It reviews phonics and spelling rules, but is geared to older students who need a review.



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Older kids who struggle with spelling are typically kids who don't visualize/recall spelling patterns easily.


I disagree with the idea that simply re-teaching phonics/rules will improve spelling b/c the majority of higher level spelling words do not follow a rule. It requires memorization of umpteen rule breakers (even with "little" words).


For example, ow is usually used before a final d, l, or n. gown, growl, crowd, etc

However, what about loud, cloud, foul, etc.


How about deciding how to spell /shun/ at the end of a word. Yes, you can easily teach not to use shun, but deciding to spell decision, nation, conclusion, suspicion, etc. takes memorization more than knowing tion, cion, and sion say /shun/ at the end of a word.


A better approach is a combination of phoneme, morpheme, dictation approach. There are several different programs.......Apples and Pears (not the same as Apples), Spelling through Morphographs (geared specifically for 4-12 graders, but expensive!!), and Spelling Mastery (grade level geared, expensive, but not nearly as much as Spelling through Morphographs)


I used Apples and Pears this past yr with my 6th grade ds and it improved his spelling dramatically. It really made him spelling conscious. I was planning on Spelling through Morphographs for next yr b/c I found the student books really cheap. But I haven't found the teacher books for under $250, so I am going back to Apples and Pears b/c after reviewing the Spelling through Morphograph materials, they are very comparable yet no where equivalent in price!!


http://www.prometheantrust.org/usshop.htm (scroll down the page to find it. There is an online placement test and the entire program is viewable online so you can decide what you think of the approach without buying blind)


FWIW......I tried PZ with my 2 spelling impaired kids and it did not transfer into their written work. The only approach that has made if from spelling into other writing is the morpheme,phoneme approach.



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My 13yo is similar. I liked the idea of Megawords but she was still having problems with one syllable words and that focuses on multi syllable words.


I picked Apples Daily Spelling Drills. I liked that there is no placement worries, you start at the beginning. It teaches all the rules, exceptions, etc. There is also lots of review. It is very easy to use, pick up and go and there are only 2 books to get thru.


I've seen improvement, we are about 1/2 way thru the first book. I am also having my dd write more, which helps also. I allow her to ask me for spelling help often (for emails too) and I tend to answer in groups of syllables and phonograms and give rules where I can (okay she hates this part but the alternative is for her to look it up :D ). I don't know if we will use the 2nd book or try Megawords. That program seems interesting also. Another option is Sequential Spelling. We tried that once and my dd really liked it. *I* however kept dropping the ball. With 3 other kids to bouce around to, we didn't do SS daily and that's a problem, so we dropped it. I was also worried that it had so many book to get thru and my dd was already in 6th. Although now I see they have a bk for older students so it would only be 2 bks to get thru. I'll probably ask her which way she wants to go next. BUT first she'll have to finnish Apples Daily Spelling Drills as it has really helped with all the basic words.



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I really like the Apples and Pears Spelling program. It is easy to use, has daily work, and the spelling carries over to other subjects. It is a tad pricy but for something that works, it is well worth it.




I have met with the authors twice now when they were in the states vacationing. Wonderful people and they will help you with any questions, placement issues, etc. You can also resell the teacher's books when you are done.

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I do think a foundation in the different sounds - phonetics, in other words.


From there, the basic ideas of spelling are key...like a short vowel is closed, a long vowel comes from an open syllable, i before e except after c and in words that say '"a"" as in neighbor and weigh, etc.


Then, I would suggest something like:


How to teach any child to spell - tricks of the trade....to address common errors.

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