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macmacmoo

Talk to me about spelling programs

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We will be adding spelling to eldest son's course work next year. What are all my options? What are some things I need to consider to help rule out options?

 

What have you used? What drew you to it? What did you like? What didn't you like about it? Did you eventually switch to something else?

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I have been using Spelling Workout for my girls. They enjoy it, huge fans of workbooks! Level A starts off really easy and gently progresses. The spelling lists are abt 6 words long until halfway thru then they go to 8 words. In the meantime that kid is also doing phonics in OPGTR. Both kids are good readers/spellers. I just have them do a page a day M-Th, copy down the list words daily with a test on Friday. I went with this because it was mentioned in WTM and I was a total noob last year buying curriculum. It just so happened the kids like it. Will probably stick with this.

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Workbooks weren't working for my DD, they were too easy for her to do without thinking, and she's not a natural speller. So we switched to using the free lists at k12reader.com. We pre-test, then she makes her own flash cards, visually representing phonetic patterns in the words with different colors, etc. She types them into spelling city another day, then plays the spelling city games the day after that. Usually by Thursday we're down to just the toughest one or two words still needing some work.

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We have had the most success with Logic of English.   This is one of several spelling programs that take a phonogram-and-rule-based approach to learning spelling.  This approach to spelling makes sense to me because it isn't just about memorizing random lists of words, or learning some rules that may work some of the time (but not knowing why to use the rules or when to use them). 

 

We started out trying more of the "learn a few rules and study some random lists" method with DD, but it was clear pretty early on (by late 1st or early 2nd grade) that it wasn't working for her at all.  She was retaining virtually nothing from the spelling instruction and her spelling was so "invented" it didn't even make sense to her (much less to me) when she tried to read something later that she had written.  I knew we needed something different, and I heard about LoE around the time I was getting more desperate.  It has been awesome for her over the past two years -- she is still not an awesome speller, but we have seen steady progress.

 

Some kids don't need such an intense method of spelling instruction -- some kids (apparently) do fine with random lists, or are "natural spellers" who barely need a curriculum at all...and there are other approaches as well (Apples and Pears is one that uses a whole other approach...which I can't remember the name of).

 

I think in some ways you need to try something that makes sense to you and fits with how your DD learns (does she like to write? not like to write? like to play games? etc), and be ready to switch if it isn't working or no progress is being made.

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My kids and I love All About Spelling. It's so easy to teach, and we can adapt it to how they are feeling that day. Ds has a lot of trouble writing, so we do a lesson each week spread over three days. Dd is flying through a lesson a day at this point. It is nice that we can use the letter tiles, the iPad with a moveable alphabet app, paper, a white board- whatever the kids want. Yesterday we did it outside with chalk. The kids are learning the rules very easily, and their spelling has improved quickly. So has ds's reading. The only downfall is the cost.

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Sequential Spelling. My DD is a whole to parts learner. AAS and Logic of English both failed at our house and they were expensive, labor intensive and time consuming. I can't say we got nothing out of them, because I learned a lot of the whys about spelling and I strangely found them fascinating from that perspective. Sequential Spelling isn't pretty, is not fancy or manipulative based. It didn't call out to me at all, but in desperation.... And it worked for us. I know that isn't true for everyone, but it's cheap so to me it's worth a try. Takes us about 5 minutes a day. Easy breezy.

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We really like AAS.  It's a very solid program and appeals to multiple learning styles.  I've been able to make it work for my oldest, who needs lots of repetition, and for my middle kiddo, who is more of a natural speller.  It's easy to adjust to each child.  It is pricey though, but we've been able to use it for more than one kid, so it's balanced out for us.

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I just got my copy of How to Teach Spelling yesterday, and I think I have a winner.  It's a TM about, well, how to teach spelling! based on phonics and spelling rules, and it can be used 1st-12th.  I think it looks very good, I can see right where both my kids should be placed and can work forward with them systematically from there.  What I like most about it is that it isn't just lists - it's phongram and rule-based lessons but with spelling dictation sentences, which include carefully chosen levelled sight words as well as reviewing all previously taught phonograms and rules.  Spelling dictation with sentences is a much more effective way to find out what words they really know how to spell in the context of writing, I find.  My older can do great on list-based spelling tests, but still makes a lot of errors in her writing, and my younger needs to build the fluency with writing sentences with words that are at an appropriate spelling level.  Anyway, it's pretty cheap and can be used with multiple kids for multiple years.

 

My oldest has been through LOE with the advanced spelling lists, and my younger is about halfway through it now.  It does help a lot, and I do like the program.  If you wanted something more open-and-go for the younger set, I'd go with that, but I don't think there is much out there that is rule- and phonogram-based that is effective with older kids.

 

Here's a link:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Spelling-Laura-Toby-Rudginsky/dp/0838818471/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397657266&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+teach+spelling

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I have used Sequential Spelling for years. Love it. My 6 year old has a Spelling Workout book he enjoys, but I have had him working with the lists in WRTR.

 

I no longer use the student workbook for Sequential Spelling. Just a student response book or composition book is all that is needed. 

 

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Check out Rod And Staff Spelling. It begins in grade 2 but it starts very gently and really builds confidence. It's a solid and simple program.

 

I agree.  I've used it from levels 1-4 and my dd takes about 15 minutes to complete a section.  She does this for three days and then I give her an oral test on the fourth day.  It's quick simple and effective.

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We tried AAS and A Reason for Spelling, both bombed. I found SpellWell and that has been our saving grace. My daughter is not a natural speller and colored workbooks are too distracting. SpellWell starts out with a pre-test, the kids can check their own work and then the rest of the week are different ways of using those words. My daughter has come really far with her spelling since using SpellWell. And.. they are not expensive at all.

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I have used AAS and R&S Spelling By Sound and Structure. I prefer R&S and that is what we are using now. AAS is a great program it just wasn't working for us and was too teacher intensive. ;)

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I have used Sequential Spelling for years. Love it. My 6 year old has a Spelling Workout book he enjoys, but I have had him working with the lists in WRTR.

 

I no longer use the student workbook for Sequential Spelling. Just a student response book or composition book is all that is needed. 

 

I tried Sequential Spelling because of you. Many many many many.....thanks. Haven't regretted it for a moment.

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If you want a phonics rule based program, HTTS that Rose describes is the best one on the market IMO (and I have probably owned all of them at one pt or another.). For dyslexics and other kids that struggle with straight phonogram approaches, a morpheme/phoneme blended program that helped my worst speller was Apples and Pears.

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Sequential Spelling. My DD is a whole to parts learner. AAS and Logic of English both failed at our house and they were expensive, labor intensive and time consuming. I can't say we got nothing out of them, because I learned a lot of the whys about spelling and I strangely found them fascinating from that perspective. Sequential Spelling isn't pretty, is not fancy or manipulative based. It didn't call out to me at all, but in desperation.... And it worked for us. I know that isn't true for everyone, but it's cheap so to me it's worth a try. Takes us about 5 minutes a day. Easy breezy.

 

What do you mean by a "whole to parts learner"? I'm at my wits end with AAS (its actually working but making me crazy in the process- see my previous post) and looking for something else for DS. Sequential Spelling looks interesting and I love the DVD option

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Glad to hear this because I just ordered and received today SpellWell A and Aa to use with AAS. DD loves workbooks and the straight-out spelling method of AAS wasn't doing it for her. I am going to coordinate the lessons. I think about 75% of AAS 2 will coordinate.

 

 

We tried AAS and A Reason for Spelling, both bombed. I found SpellWell and that has been our saving grace. My daughter is not a natural speller and colored workbooks are too distracting. SpellWell starts out with a pre-test, the kids can check their own work and then the rest of the week are different ways of using those words. My daughter has come really far with her spelling since using SpellWell. And.. they are not expensive at all.

 

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What do you mean by a "whole to parts learner"? I'm at my wits end with AAS (its actually working but making me crazy in the process- see my previous post) and looking for something else for DS. Sequential Spelling looks interesting and I love the DVD option

My daughter needs to see the picture first, and then she does very well breaking it into meaningful chunks for herself. She then seems to put everything back together rather quickly. Say for example, in AAS you are learning the rule for when to use CK instead of K. "We use ck at the end of a one syllable word with a short vowel." Makes sense to me. So we start the word list... She can't remember the rule, since she can't remember it, she can't apply it. Days pass as we review the rule. She can remember the rule but still doesn't apply it. More time passes. She remembers the rule and applies it to single words, but not in dictation sentences or everyday writing. She does much better by seeing bigger words and breaking them down into little chunks. Then she can see the puzzle pieces and put them back into the big picture. If you show her the word beginners, then teach her how to break it down into be, begin, beginner, beginners, then she suddenly has the skills she needs to spell other similar words without practicing them. She can spell sin, spin, sinner, sinners, spinner, spinners. Big picture first, then bits, then she puts it all together again.

 

Let's change gears. Most kids start math by learning their facts and some basic concepts. They grow from there. Makes sense. My daughter couldn't remember a math fact to save her life (and is still incredibly slow with them if you are just checking for fluency). We had some learning issues (lots really, spelling being just one) and ended up doing testing with a psychologist. She tested in the very superior range for applied mathematics while scoring in the low average range for math fluency. She can't come up with her math facts quickly outside of a problem solving context. Also, she's just not fast with tasks that rely on pure memorization.

 

In short, she needs to see the big picture first. "Tell me where I'm going and I will figure out how to get there." I probably haven't done a great job explaining, but this blog post does a great job and describes by daughter exactly.

 

http://dancing-with-dragons.blogspot.com/2012/07/teaching-visual-spatial-learner-when.html

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We have used several:

- AAS -- used levels 1-3 when she was very young...about 4-5, and we actually used them to help with reading before there was AAR. It was good at first because DD didn't like to write. But the pace and overall scripted nature soon drove us both crazy.

- Spalding -- sorry I know people love it but as a mom who works full time and homeschools, I didn't have the time. I needed something more open and go. I read it for myself.

- ABCs and all their Tricks--great reference for me

- Natural Speller -- I just got this for the word lists to combine with rule-based programs.

- LoE -- read the book Uncovering the Logic of English even if you don't buy the curriculum. We went through the full curriculum once and then again with advanced words. It was a turning point for DD's spelling.

- Megawords -- We did 1 after finishing LoE and it was a nice fit because it focused on syllabication. I plan to continue with the series.

- How to Teach Spelling -- I have had this for a few years and it wasn't a good fit initially but now it is great review of the rules learned in LoE. We bought workbook 3 to go with it and have just started recently.

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Check out Phonetic Zoo by IEW. It is not teacher intensive and it's quick for the student to get through each day. You can find samples and a placement test on the IEW website.

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We ended up with Spelling Power because, over the years, I began to think spelling workbooks were a waste of money. Usually, my kids knew most of the words on each lesson's list. I stopped spelling around fifth grade and then integrated into vocabulary with my older kids. With my youngest, we went through a second grade spelling book where she knew nearly all the words, and I was finally convinced it wasn't an efficient way for her to learn or a good use of our money. That's when I dug Spelling Power out of a bin in our basement, which I had picked up at a used sale years ago. There is a SP method, but we just go through the lists, usually one per day and have her work on any problem words for as long as she needs to, usually a day or two is enough. Occasionally, when tough lists have popped up, I've used Spelling City for practice. I like that the lists in SP are organized by spelling  "rules."

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All About Spelling worked well for us, and turned things around for my struggling spellers. Here's a review  I did on my blog. My oldest completed the program, and my youngest is finishing up Level 7.

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We started Logic of English Essentials this year with my k'er, going about half speed, or whatever 20 minutes per school day ends up being. He enjoys the games and he's starting to make connections between the spelling rules and words he hasn't tried to write before. I'm finding I'm learning right along with him!

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We have used several:

- AAS -- used levels 1-3 when she was very young...about 4-5, and we actually used them to help with reading before there was AAR. It was good at first because DD didn't like to write. But the pace and overall scripted nature soon drove us both crazy.

- Spalding -- sorry I know people love it but as a mom who works full time and homeschools, I didn't have the time. I needed something more open and go. I read it for myself.

- ABCs and all their Tricks--great reference for me

- Natural Speller -- I just got this for the word lists to combine with rule-based programs.

- LoE -- read the book Uncovering the Logic of English even if you don't buy the curriculum. We went through the full curriculum once and then again with advanced words. It was a turning point for DD's spelling.

- Megawords -- We did 1 after finishing LoE and it was a nice fit because it focused on syllabication. I plan to continue with the series.

- How to Teach Spelling -- I have had this for a few years and it wasn't a good fit initially but now it is great review of the rules learned in LoE. We bought workbook 3 to go with it and have just started recently.

 

Hello Deerforest!

 

We are currrently using AAS, and it's working well, but I find it just too teacher-intensive with multiple children. I already own How To Teach Spelling and love that it includes the "rules" but struggle with how to implement it. I have looked into Natural Speller because is has the lists all separated by grade, which seems like it might be easier. Could you help me understand the similarities/differences of these two programs? Would it be beneficial to combine them?

 

 

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Hello Deerforest!

 

We are currrently using AAS, and it's working well, but I find it just too teacher-intensive with multiple children. I already own How To Teach Spelling and love that it includes the "rules" but struggle with how to implement it. I have looked into Natural Speller because is has the lists all separated by grade, which seems like it might be easier. Could you help me understand the similarities/differences of these two programs? Would it be beneficial to combine them?

 

Not sure I can be much help. I only use Natural Speller as an easy way to get additional words that follow a particular pattern. I ignore the grade levels and don't teach to it at all. I really just use it as a list to pull from for additional practice.

 

DD is using Workbook 3 with How to Teach Spelling. I couldn't implement it on my own, but I think many people do.

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