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Erin

At what point do you just throw in the towel on Spelling?

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Buck just got his Stanford results today.  Pretty typical--  

Math and Science extremely high, Reading quite high, Language 30th%tile and Spelling 7th.  :001_rolleyes:

 

His Language and Spelling scores are usually well below average (though 7th%tile is a new low).  He's struggled with language arts since the get-go.  I'm actually extremely happy to see his Reading comprehension score was well above average this year.  We've really worked on that...and comprehension is such a vital skill.

 

 

But at what point do I give up trying to make him into a competent speller?  (He's already leaning pretty heavily on his computer/Tab's spell check, as well as little sis, the super-speller)

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You don't!  If he's going to go to college, he will most likely be writing essays on exams without a spell checker.  It will be embarrassing to him if he spells like a third-grader.

 

What I did with my terrible speller was make him write EVERY word he misspelled in ANY subject five times.  Like many of us, he can be pretty lazy and wants to take the easiest path to be done with his work.  I gave him the motivation he was lacking by making it less work for him to just buckle down and learn to spell the words.  He still misspells words from time to time, but overall, he's pretty decent and more importantly, confident.

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Oh this has *nothing* to do with lazy. He genuinely has no clue!

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Still, I wouldn't give up.  I have a high school student in one of my classes who is extremely bright but struggles terribly with spelling.  What I did was pick a couple of words a week that she was consistently misspelling on in-class essays and tell her I wanted her to do whatever it took to get them down.  I think that made it manageable for her -- learning to spell everything correctly was an impossible task, but learning two or three words in a week was easy.  She has made great progress that way.

 

I always tell kids that spelling is like playing a sport.  Some kids are natural spellers like some are natural athletes, but a clumsy, awkward kid who goes out and shoots baskets and runs for a couple of hours a day can become a pretty good ballplayer.

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DS#2 has mild LDs, that show up with spelling, writing, and abstract math concepts (Algebra).

 

We worked on spelling all the way into 12th grade, and due to all the senior year things, finally let go in the second semester. We used Megawords (teaches vowel patterns and syllabication rules, and designed for older students to use mostly solo), plus I did an individualized spelling for the phonetic sounds and word origins (as a spelling/vocabulary mash up), using The ABCs and All Their Tricks. We did a lot of outloud practice of spelling words to help strengthen his weak auditory-sequential abilities (see next paragraph for why that's important).

 

Another program to check into is Sequential Spelling, which helps students see smaller words within words and to build from there -- it was designed for dyslexics, to help them focus. Dyslexics take in all the letters of a word or several words all at once, without sequence or order, so all the letters are jumping around and there is no sequencing of left to right, which is critical for correct spelling. Phonetic Zoo might be another option -- it helps students who are weak in that sequential ordering of letters to hear the letters in sequential order for correct spelling, as it is a heavily auditory program. One last option for older struggling spellers is Apples: Daily Spelling Drills for Secondary Students. It is a mostly-solo workbook focusing on phonics review. (I personally think Megawords is more helpful, thorough and connects with a struggling speller better than Apples.)

 

 

The reason I would vote to keep going with spelling with your DS is that quite often, right around age 14, something "clicks" for students who have struggled or not "gotten" some subjects. If you can combine that possible window of opportunity with a spelling program geared to help in the right way, you may see some real progress, which would also be heartening to DS. Just me, but I feel it would be a shame to give up just when a "late blooming" part of a student's brain may just now be starting to mature. If it were me, I'd keep at it for another 2 years or so, using specific materials for spelling strugglers, to see if something clicks. By age 16, if still no improvement, likely the student has shut down and no longer wants to try or feels it will be of benefit...

 

While our DS still has pretty bad spelling and heavily relies on spell check or other family members, I am SO glad we continued with the spelling, up until he had just turned 18yo. He did not even *begin* to have a clue about spelling until 12yo, and after that, each year I saw him "click" another notch forward with spelling, to the point where at least he will no longer feel shame or appear illiterate due to his spelling when he has to fill out an application or hand-write something -- I'm esp. thinking at a future job or other situation where spell-check will not always be an option...

 

 

TOTALLY just my opinion! Wishing you and your DS all the best, whatever you decide! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

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I have one who spelled horrendously & tested like that. She gets it honestly from her dad! They're both intelligent, but also right brained VSL types with some auditory dyslexia going on in the background. She could remember what letters were in each word, but not their order (learning to read via phonics didn't work for her, either :-) I really didn't get it; my son and I are just natural spellers, & it was frustrating to me!

 

In middle school, it wasn't getting much better, so one year I decided to work intensively on her spelling. We used Writing Road to Reading along with this guide, using its directions for older students in grades 7 to 12. Phonics, and as a result spelling, finally started to click in her brain. After that year, I saw significant results, and by the time dd reached college age, her spelling errors no longer set her apart. :)

 

 

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I agree that repetition is key.  It almost doesn't matter what spelling list/program you use.  With my poor speller (when she was younger), I kept a list in my back pocket of words that she missed and I pulled it out a few times a day and did a verbal spelling test.  That may not work with an older child, but maybe you could come up with something similar that would work.

 

Also, tell him to pay attention to words when he reads.  Not everyone knows this.  When I read, a part of my brain is always looking for words that I am not familiar with- either definition or spelling.  You can probably read and understand from context just fine, but if someone were to ask you to spell the odd word, could you?

 

 

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Thanks for the specific recommendations!  We've long-suspected he has dyslexia, which, of course, means there's really no logic to the words he misspells today and the words he misspells tomorrow.  

There is no such thing as a "list" because the words on it would forever be changing, depending on what he had for lunch, or what time of day it is...  

 

This morning he was hunting for a tractor on eBay:  The first time he typed in "John Deere" exactly like it's supposed to be (he tends to type Google searches aloud so someone can correct him if needs be lol).  The second time it was "John (is that how you spell John, Mom?) Drre"  

Buck, that isn't how you spelled Deere the last time. 

 

It's not?  

 

No, look at it and tell me what's different.  

 

Oh!  I forgot the "e!"  "Derre"

:001_rolleyes:

 

 

 

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I also have a child who was relying on his visual memory and spellcheck. By 6th grade he decided he was ready to learn the rules. Megawords did the job quickly.

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OK, so looking at Megawords, where should I start him?  

A coming 9th grader, spelling comfortably at a 4th grade level...

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First, awesome that so many of his scores are so high.  That's great!

 

Now for the spelling issue.  Parent and wife and daughter of terrible spellers.  At least two of those are dyslexic.  But they were not diagnosed until later and in one case not til adulthood.   All bright and very capable.  Just spelling and reading at times have been a struggle.  

 

If it is dyslexia, then rote memorization of a sequence of letters may be absolutely useless for trying to learn to spell.  That isn't laziness or not paying attention.  It is a difference in the way the brain is structured and processes information.  I wasted years and years trying to  help DD learn to spell by drill and kill while she was still in brick and mortar.  It was less than useless.  It demoralized us both.  Once we switched to a process specifically for dyslexics that incorporated lots of different approaches and multisensory ones at that, spelling improved 10 fold in just months.  Would that be true of every child who used what we are using?  No, maybe not.  Every child is different and different children have different underlying causes for their difficulties.  

 

But going through this experience made it abundantly clear to me that my mother, my family and all those teachers telling me to just keep drilling with my kiddos didn't really understand kids that learn differently.  And I certainly didn't, either.  7 years of wasted instruction in a brick and mortar gained DD very little.  She made mainly As and some Bs on report cards but still struggled to retain any spelling sequence past the day of the test and reading was always challenging.  Yet just one year of being taught the way her brain was better designed to learn turned a huge number of her spelling and reading issues completely around.  

 

If you suspect dyslexia then I urge you to be proactive.   DD13 didn't start remediation until she was 12.  She was a dismal speller all the way through elementary and into middle school.  She sometimes made less than 10 on spelling tests with a 0-100 scale.  One year of real remediation and now she spells very well. Look at what Lori D posted.  Check out different types of dyslexia friendly systems.  Check out Barton Reading and Spelling or Wilson or LiPS or All About Spelling or Dancing Bears.  Whatever looks like it might actually address spelling in a way that works with your child's brain, not against it.

 

Read up on dyslexia.  There is a lot of great info out there now.  It might make all the difference.

 

Best wishes.

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OK, so looking at Megawords, where should I start him?  

A coming 9th grader, spelling comfortably at a 4th grade level...

 

I'd start with book 1; it is for grade 4 and up, and that way you get comfortable with the method of the book while working with easier words. Plus, the vowel patterns / syllable rules are simple and give the student a lot of success.

 

You can do 1 or 2 pages a day (depending on how well your student clicks with the concept for that lesson). Even at 1 page a day, you will easily get through a book in less than a year, so I recommend buying 2 books per year. And yes, you really do need the teacher books, as a number of exercises have the parent dictate a series of syllables to the student, and those lists of syllables (and all answers) are in the teacher book.

 

BTW -- your description of DS's spelling is classic dyslexia; our DS spelled very similarly. As a result, I highly recommend doing some additional types of spelling activities with your DS each day (about 15 min), to do two things:

 

1. strengthen his weak sequential memory and processing

2. use his visual strength -- use visual clues to help him focus on / think about / memorize word spelling and see patterns

 

 

1 - a.) daily: out loud practice

Out loud spelling back and forth of spelling words to strengthen weak sequential memory / processing. Idea from Andrew Pudewa lecture and his Phonetic Zoo -- see Pudewa's 22:30 minutes discussion on Spelling and the Brain (if short on time, the heart of the concept runs from 5:15 thru 15:40 -- right after 15:40 he talks for about 2 minutes about his reading/spelling experiences with his own dyslexic son).

 

You clearly say the word aloud, spell it (syllable by syllable if that helps), and toss the child a bean bag (or other item) ie toy; then the student says the word/spells it correctly, and tosses the beanbag. The beanie toss helps keep him focused and mentally prepared. *Immediately* stop and correct any misspelling by spelling it aloud correctly several times and have the student spell it correctly by looking at it and reading it letter by letter several times. Hearing the letters in correct sequential order really helps cement correct spelling in the mind.

 

1 - b.) 2x/week: dictate sentences

Dictate 5 short sentences, (slowly, one at a time) each with 2-3 spelling words in them for student to practice simultaneous thinking/writing/spelling. Have the student say each word and spell aloud as writing the word for reinforcement of auditory sequencing of the spelling.

 

2 - a.) 3x/week: Work with words on whiteboard

Ideas from Sequential Spelling and Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual. Use different color markers for vowel teams and for consonants, or for endings and root words. Things to practice:

 

- reinforce vowel patterns, syllabication patterns, etc. from Megawords

 

- write out root words and practice adding endings, prefixes, etc.

Tell it and draw it as a story with character pictures (ex.: "hope" -- the vowels at the end of the word like to fight with vowels at the beginning of an ending (like "-ing", or "-ed"), so you have to drop the "-e" at the end of "hope" and then add the endings such as "-er" or "-ing"; adding endings such as "-ful" or "-less", or prefixes such as "-un" are not a problem, because they start with a consonant, and consonants don't fight with the vowel at the end of the word)

 

- work with homophones

See the different spellings, and draw a picture or tell a little story to help the difference stick (ex: "meet" and "meat"; it takes 2 people to "meet" and there are 2 "e"s in "meet"; draw the letter "a" to look like a heart and say "I love to eat "meat" -- and see, the word "eat" is IN the word "meat"; etc.)

 

- show roots/prefixes/endings and "words within words"

. . .end

. . .endless

. . bend

. . bending

.unbend

.unbendable

 

- show "words within words" by adding on:

.at

bat

batter

battery

 

- show Greek or Latin root and prefixes/endings for vocabulary and spelling:

dur = hard; lasting

. .duration

. .durable

endure

endurance

 

 

One last thought: dyslexics are usually very strong visual-spatial learners (VSL), with strong right-brain/long term memory. You might consider trying Dianne Craft's "photographic memory" technique for learning spelling words -- scroll down to the subheading of "3. Spelling" for a description of the technique.

 

BEST of luck in finding what works best for DS! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

 

ETA -- Just saw the post by OneStepAtATime and I definitely agree about research and remediation if at all possible! She lists some additional great resources. While Megawords is helpful, and is done largely by the student solo, for a student with dyslexia to overcome the spelling hurdle is going to require *additional* work beyond just Megawords -- it will take time and effort from both of you (or, DS with a tutor or specialist).

 

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Do you feel the MegaWords books are as useful for non-dyslexic students as well as dyslexic ones, or would you recommend something else for non-dyslexics?  Is the method in another post where you use copywork and dictation solely from Pudewa or is it a combination of the MegaWords method and Pudewa?

DS#2 has mild LDs, that show up with spelling, writing, and abstract math concepts (Algebra).

 

We worked on spelling all the way into 12th grade, and due to all the senior year things, finally let go in the second semester. We used Megawords (teaches vowel patterns and syllabication rules, and designed for older students to use mostly solo), plus I did an individualized spelling for the phonetic sounds and word origins (as a spelling/vocabulary mash up), using The ABCs and All Their Tricks. We did a lot of outloud practice of spelling words to help strengthen his weak auditory-sequential abilities (see next paragraph for why that's important).

 

Another program to check into is Sequential Spelling, which helps students see smaller words within words and to build from there -- it was designed for dyslexics, to help them focus. Dyslexics take in all the letters of a word or several words all at once, without sequence or order, so all the letters are jumping around and there is no sequencing of left to right, which is critical for correct spelling. Phonetic Zoo might be another option -- it helps students who are weak in that sequential ordering of letters to hear the letters in sequential order for correct spelling, as it is a heavily auditory program. One last option for older struggling spellers is Apples: Daily Spelling Drills for Secondary Students. It is a mostly-solo workbook focusing on phonics review. (I personally think Megawords is more helpful, thorough and connects with a struggling speller better than Apples.)

 

 

The reason I would vote to keep going with spelling with your DS is that quite often, right around age 14, something "clicks" for students who have struggled or not "gotten" some subjects. If you can combine that possible window of opportunity with a spelling program geared to help in the right way, you may see some real progress, which would also be heartening to DS. Just me, but I feel it would be a shame to give up just when a "late blooming" part of a student's brain may just now be starting to mature. If it were me, I'd keep at it for another 2 years or so, using specific materials for spelling strugglers, to see if something clicks. By age 16, if still no improvement, likely the student has shut down and no longer wants to try or feels it will be of benefit...

 

While our DS still has pretty bad spelling and heavily relies on spell check or other family members, I am SO glad we continued with the spelling, up until he had just turned 18yo. He did not even *begin* to have a clue about spelling until 12yo, and after that, each year I saw him "click" another notch forward with spelling, to the point where at least he will no longer feel shame or appear illiterate due to his spelling when he has to fill out an application or hand-write something -- I'm esp. thinking at a future job or other situation where spell-check will not always be an option...

 

 

TOTALLY just my opinion! Wishing you and your DS all the best, whatever you decide! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

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Do you feel the MegaWords books are as useful for non-dyslexic students as well as dyslexic ones, or would you recommend something else for non-dyslexics?  Is the method in another post where you use copywork and dictation solely from Pudewa or is it a combination of the MegaWords method and Pudewa?

 

Yes. I'm certainly no expert, but I have seen a lot of people on this board using Megawords with non-dysexics. In fact, a number of people with very advanced 2nd/3rd graders have successfully used Megawords for their spelling -- wow!  I think Megawords would work with any student who has a learning style which connects with learning the rules or seeing overall patterns -- in the case of Megawords, it is vowel patterns and syllabication rules of spelling.

 

I think there are a number of spelling programs out there that work with non-dyslexic students, depending on the student's learning style and temperament: Phonetic Zoo and Sequential Spelling are ones I've seen people use with students who don't have any LDs. Also: All About Spelling and the Spaulding materials. Even workbook-based programs like Spelling Workout or drill-through-writing programs such as Natural Speller, Spelling Power and most standard curriculum providers (Horizons, BJUP, Abeka, etc.), are a good match for specific types of students.

 

Gosh, how's that for a wishy-washy answer… ;)

 

 

Is the method in another post where you use copywork and dictation solely from Pudewa or is it a combination of the MegaWords method and Pudewa?

 

So sorry for creating confusion! Actually the spelling dictation we did (copywork was not part of our spelling practice) was not from Pudewa OR Megawords...

 

The sentence dictation that I did with my DS's spelling was loosely based on the Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual (a reading and spelling program based on mnemonics and visual clues for right-brain memory). My variation of that spelling practice dictation looked like: three to five short sentences, multiple spelling words in one sentence, dictate, have the student repeat the sentence, dictate again, and then the student is spelling aloud the words as s/he writes them for auditory-sequential reinforcement.

 

I don't recall Megawords having any dictation of sentences; just dictation of a list of syllables. I don't know what/how Pudewa/Phonetic Zoo does as far as dictation and spelling, as we never used that. I heard Pudewa speak on Spelling and the Brain at a homeschool conference probably 8-9 years ago, and I don't recall any mention of dictation...

 

What stuck out to me in Pudewa's session was what is in that short youtube interview I linked above -- the sequential nature of spelling, and how the auditory practice forces the student with strong visuals (sees all the letters at once), to slow down and speak the letters one at a time in correct sequence (to strengthen their weak auditory-sequential memory and processing).

 

In that session Pudewa gave years back, he also mentioned the possibility of making "word families" (one word per index card, and then group rhyming words together (example: run, fun, bun, sun), so students can see and hear the similar spelling pattern go together. I was so amazed to hear him say that, because we had JUST spent a year with DS doing almost that EXACT thing with a little-known program called Spel-Lang Tree: Trunks...

 

 

Hope that helps! Happy to answer any other questions you may have. :) I feel like researching spelling and trying different things to make it work (along with writing AND math, DS's other two LD areas) just consumed SOOOO much of our homeschooling… But threads like this actually help me have a balanced perspective, because I can now see that it WAS worth all the work, and those efforts DID help. :)

 

Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Thanks for this.  I just ordered Megawords for my daughter who will be 7th grade next year.  She reads beautifully but cannot spell.  She also has a really hard time copying things.  She is very very slow because she copies the letters and not the words.  She cannot hold the word in her head if that makes sense.

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She also has a really hard time copying things.  She is very very slow because she copies the letters and not the words.  She cannot hold the word in her head if that makes sense.

 

Makes total sense. :) Just a thought: If she is even slow and working hard on each letter, as though trying to copy a design or piece of art, you may be looking at a type of dysgraphia...

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With my dd15, spelling will ALWAYS be on the daily schedule.  She was formally diagnosed with dyslexia at the beginning of 6th grade.  Hard work has made reading and comprehension much better - although still somewhat slow.  Spelling, on the other hand, is a bear for her.  We have tried pretty much every program out there with tiny improvements.  She just does not "see" the word in her head to spell it.  A word does not look either right or wrong on the paper.  She has learned every spelling rule out there and many, many exceptions.  The problem is that she does not remember to use the rule when she is trying to spell the word.  She just does not connect the two no matter how much she studies it.

 

I also believe she has some auditory processing problems, as well.  She does not hear all of the sounds.  Earlier today, she wrote me a note with some things she wanted from the store and one of them was "spinige".  When I asked her about it, she said that she hears a "g" instead of "ch".

 

We will never stop working on her spelling, even if it is a tough fight.

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Thanks for clarifying.  I have a daughter who had horrific spelling when she came home this year from public schools.  We had 2 different spelling curricula and she would always get an "A" on every spelling test, but her written initial drafts of essays contained so many silly spelling errors; it was like her brain fell out of her head as soon as the spelling test was over and she had her 100% in her back pocket.  I finally figured the spelling was a waste of time and ditched the spelling curricula and just started having her re-write and re-edit and re-spell every time I saw mistakes on her essays.  I have seen decent improvement, but still nothing like where she needs to be.  I'm not sure if this is as good as it's going to get, or if learning to spell is just going to be a long, slow slog through middle school.  I'm always on the prowl for spelling information in order to make this process speed up a bit, you know?  I also have a son who will be homeschooled for next year (4th grade) and he has better spelling (his teachers did not tolerate the "inventive spelling" my daughter's teachers did).  A spelling curriculum was so useless for my daughter I am considering skipping it with my son, but I don't know if that's a good idea for a 4th grader.Ah, I'm just rambling....

. tYes. I'm certainly no expert, but I have seen a lot of people on this board using Megawords with non-dysexics. In fact, a number of people with very advanced 2nd/3rd graders have successfully used Megawords for their spelling -- wow!  I think Megawords would work with any student who has a learning style which connects with learning the rules or seeing overall patterns -- in the case of Megawords, it is vowel patterns and syllabication rules of spelling.

 

I think there are a number of spelling programs out there that work with non-dyslexic students, depending on the student's learning style and temperament: Phonetic Zoo and Sequential Spelling are ones I've seen people use with students who don't have any LDs. Also: All About Spelling and the Spaulding materials. Even workbook-based programs like Spelling Workout or drill-through-writing programs such as Natural Speller, Spelling Power and most standard curriculum providers (Horizons, BJUP, Abeka, etc.), are a good match for specific types of students.

 

Gosh, how's that for a wishy-washy answer… ;)

 

 

 

 

So sorry for creating confusion! Actually the spelling dictation we did (copywork was not part of our spelling practice) was not from Pudewa OR Megawords...

 

The sentence dictation that I did with my DS's spelling was loosely based on the Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual (a reading and spelling program based on mnemonics and visual clues for right-brain memory). My variation of that spelling practice dictation looked like: three to five short sentences, multiple spelling words in one sentence, dictate, have the student repeat the sentence, dictate again, and then the student is spelling aloud the words as s/he writes them for auditory-sequential reinforcement.

 

I don't recall Megawords having any dictation of sentences; just dictation of a list of syllables. I don't know what/how Pudewa/Phonetic Zoo does as far as dictation and spelling, as we never used that. I heard Pudewa speak on Spelling and the Brain at a homeschool conference probably 8-9 years ago, and I don't recall any mention of dictation...

 

What stuck out to me in Pudewa's session was what is in that short youtube interview I linked above -- the sequential nature of spelling, and how the auditory practice forces the student with strong visuals (sees all the letters at once), to slow down and speak the letters one at a time in correct sequence (to strengthen their weak auditory-sequential memory and processing).

 

In that session Pudewa gave years back, he also mentioned the possibility of making "word families" (one word per index card, and then group rhyming words together (example: run, fun, bun, sun), so students can see and hear the similar spelling pattern go together. I was so amazed to hear him say that, because we had JUST spent a year with DS doing almost that EXACT thing with a little-known program called Spel-Lang Tree: Trunks...

 

 

Hope that helps! Happy to answer any other questions you may have. :) I feel like researching spelling and trying different things to make it work (along with writing AND math, DS's other two LD areas) just consumed SOOOO much of our homeschooling… But threads like this actually help me have a balanced perspective, because I can now see that it WAS worth all the work, and those efforts DID help. :)

 

Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

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… I have a daughter who …  would always get an "A" on every spelling test, but her written initial drafts of essays contained so many silly spelling errors; it was like her brain fell out of her head as soon as the spelling test was over ...

 

Actually, this is extremely typical. :)

 

Thinking of what to write / act of writing / spelling -- they are three separate activities processed in three different parts of the brain. So doing just one task, spelling, is fine and the student can have 100% on every spelling test; but toss those other "balls" of thinking of what to write and the act of writing into the mix, and it all tumbles down. ;) Most young students can NOT simultaneously juggle all three tasks initially. A majority of people eventually learn how to "multi-task" (commonly it happens between ages 10-14). Many go on to be able to even edit on the fly as they write. BUT... not everyone. There are some who never can simultaneously write/spell (just like some people never can learn to say the alphabet or memorize math facts).

 

 

… I have … started having her re-write and re-edit and re-spell every time I saw mistakes on her essays...

 

That's exactly what you want to do -- train your student that writing is a multi-step process, and proofing is one of those steps. :) You still may want to do a spelling program to help develop the very separate skill of understanding vowel patterns, syllable patterns, and root word origins to help your student see there is a "logic" to the phonetics and spelling of words. I found the spelling resource of The ABCs and All Their Tricks to be very helpful in that regard.

 

 

… A spelling curriculum was so useless for my daughter I am considering skipping it with my son, but I don't know if that's a good idea for a 4th grader..

 

Of course, you know your children and all the extenuating circumstances best. :) However, my personal inclination would be to not give up on spelling unless I had tried a number of things, been diligent, and either the student no longer needed spelling, or, as I mentioned up-thread, that I had an older teen who had "given up". But that's just what *I* would do, not knowing your student or situation. :)

 

 

Ahhh… so much of homeschooling keeps coming back to patience and perseverance -- and I'm not talking about our children here.  :tongue_smilie: BEST of luck in your spelling adventures! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Most young students can NOT simultaneously juggle all three tasks initially.

And of course this is precisely why younger students are allowed inventive spelling; teachers don't want them hanging up the entire writing process in mere mechanics.

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But her handwriting is beautiful.  I thought dysgraphia meant that they had atrocious handwriting.  That said, typing papers where it automatically corrects most of her spelling errors has made her actually enjoy the writing process.  Otherwise, she was always crying and asking me how to spell and telling me how stupid she was..

Makes total sense. :) Just a thought: If she is even slow and working hard on each letter, as though trying to copy a design or piece of art, you may be looking at a type of dysgraphia...

 

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That's one thing we've always been very careful about; disconnecting spelling from intelligence.  

 

Then again, his grandpa, my dad, gave the kids a Christmas present this year that included the note:  "Battys in coset"  

Grandpa graduated second in his law school class and spent the next 40 years as one of the more respected attorneys in the state...and never could spell to save his life.  He has often said that's why he went into a profession that came with a secretary.   ;)

 

 

Buck and I were just discussing this and I said we're going to be doing a different approach for spelling next year, which of course was met with groaning and gnashing of teeth.  

"Son, you got a 7th%tile on your Stanford!  Seventh!"

 

"You mean if you put me in a room with 100 8th graders, I spell better than SEVEN of them??  Woohoo!!"  

 

:glare:

Perhaps we've disconnected too well...

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But her handwriting is beautiful.  I thought dysgraphia meant that they had atrocious handwriting.  That said, typing papers where it automatically corrects most of her spelling errors has made her actually enjoy the writing process.  Otherwise, she was always crying and asking me how to spell and telling me how stupid she was..

I thought so, too.  DS had good handwriting in 4k/kinder/1st.  it was slower than his classmates but it was definitely very legible.  In fact, his 1st grade teacher always commented on how much prettier his printing was than most of the boys.  I was told in our first assessment he could not have dysgraphia because his letters were too well formed.  They were wrong, but it took a lot of independent research and information from a more informed assessor to finally get some concrete answers.

 

There are many forms of dysgraphia and there are different underlying causes.  Dysgraphia just basically means difficulty with writing, whether that means letter formation, pulling up and being able to put words on paper, etc.  Most people are not aware of that, though.  Not all issues are tied directly to how pretty the letters look.  DS has to write very slowly.  And he cannot judge how to size letters up or down when copying from a source that is of a very different size.  He also has a hard time lining up the letters if there are no lines on the paper or the dry erase board.  And he cannot print very small.  But his handwriting looks fine if the above are not in play.  

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There are many forms of dysgraphia and there are different underlying causes.  Dysgraphia just basically means difficulty with writing, whether that means letter formation, pulling up and being able to put words on paper, etc.  Most people are not aware of that, though.  Not all issues are tied directly to how pretty the letters look.

 

Yes, thanks OneStepAtATime! That's what I was meaning when I brought up the dysgraphia. :)

 

Seekinghim45: Only brought it up in case you thought it might be worth some research and testing, which could lead to some specific therapies and resources to help writing become an easier process for DD. :) Struggling can also be a part of dyslexia, or some other unrelated processing issue. Or, some students are just very late bloomers in developing that part of the brain… sigh… it's so difficult sorting through it all, isn't it?

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"You mean if you put me in a room with 100 8th graders, I spell better than SEVEN of them??  Woohoo!!"  

 

:glare:

Perhaps we've disconnected too well...

 

 

  :smilielol5:  :smilielol5:  :smilielol5:

 

Just about did a coffee-spew reading that! That's exactly the kind of thing my DS would have said too!  :laugh:

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In middle school, it wasn't getting much better, so one year I decided to work intensively on her spelling. We used Writing Road to Reading along with this guide, using its directions for older students in grades 7 to 12. Phonics, and as a result spelling, finally started to click in her brain. After that year, I saw significant results, and by the time dd reached college age, her spelling errors no longer set her apart. :)

 

Erin, I know you're now looking at Megawords (which I know nothing about), but I just want to "second" Writing Road to Reading.  The basic gist of it is that students memorize 70 phonograms (letters and letter blends) that make 45 basic sounds of English.  They then use this knowledge to analyze words for their particular phonogram sounds and spelling rules.  They use a simple marking system to do the analyzing, and it requires you to teach the words to them and teach them how to analyze.  So, they end up memorizing sounds and rules in context, as they analyze.  And the word list isn't divided into word families; words are listed in order of how common they are in English.  (phonograms are also memorized in order of commonality, which helps the student, too)

 

I was a natural speller - I could see a word once and remember how to spell it.  But when I started using WRTR with my kids (and other kids I've tutored over the years), even I learned new things and became brave enough to tackle reading and spelling words I'd never seen before.  :D  My daughter had spelling troubles for a long time; but we persisted with WRTR, and she has greatly improved over the past couple of years.  She has gotten to the point where I agreed to drop WRTR for awhile and see how she does in her written work.  She agreed that she would write any misspelled words ten times correctly, and she has usually been able to figure out now where she went wrong in any misspelled word.  WRTR teaches you how to think your way through a word, both for spelling and for reading.

 

Thanks for the specific recommendations!  We've long-suspected he has dyslexia, which, of course, means there's really no logic to the words he misspells today and the words he misspells tomorrow.  

There is no such thing as a "list" because the words on it would forever be changing, depending on what he had for lunch, or what time of day it is...  

 

This morning he was hunting for a tractor on eBay:  The first time he typed in "John Deere" exactly like it's supposed to be (he tends to type Google searches aloud so someone can correct him if needs be lol).  The second time it was "John (is that how you spell John, Mom?) Drre"  

Buck, that isn't how you spelled Deere the last time. 

 

It's not?  

 

No, look at it and tell me what's different.  

 

Oh!  I forgot the "e!"  "Derre"

:001_rolleyes:

 

So using this as an example, I would have had the following conversation with my daughter:

 

"What is the first sound in 'Deere?'"

 

"d"

 

"What is the next sound?"

 

"e"  (picture it like a long-e sound dictionary marking)

 

"'e' from which phonogram?"

 

"'e' from 'double e'"  (which is the phonogram that looks like this:  ee) 

 

(but if she didn't know which phonogram that sounds came from, I would tell her and let her try to remember what "double e" looks like so she could write it down.  If she didn't remember what it looks like, THEN I would show her.)

 

"next sound?"

 

"r"

 

"yes.  Anything else after that sound?"

 

If she said "no," I'd tell her, "There is a 'no-job "e"" after the "r."  (she would have previously learned that silent "e" can do four different jobs in words, and that rarely there is a silent "e" that doesn't have a job in a word.

 

daughter writes that down.

 

Of course, in reality, my daughter now gets impatient with me if I go through this process with her now, lol, because she is so used to it - so she rapidly tries to take herself through it now (which is the whole point - she is thinking through, using her WRTR tools, how to spell out a word).  But I wrote this all down so you could see the thought and direct teaching process.

 

hth

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But how do you know whether it is Deere or dear???  I mean really Deere doesn't really follow any rules.  Those are most of the words that my daughter messes up, the ones that are exceptions that you just have to memorize..  Plus I can't figure out rhyme and reason as to why sometimes the long e sound is e consonant silent e, ea, ee and sometimes an I!!!  I just have a visual picture of how the word looks and many spelling programs we use don't seem to go into exactly when to use those different types..

Erin, I know you're now looking at Megawords (which I know nothing about), but I just want to "second" Writing Road to Reading.  The basic gist of it is that students memorize 70 phonograms (letters and letter blends) that make 45 basic sounds of English.  They then use this knowledge to analyze words for their particular phonogram sounds and spelling rules.  They use a simple marking system to do the analyzing, and it requires you to teach the words to them and teach them how to analyze.  So, they end up memorizing sounds and rules in context, as they analyze.  And the word list isn't divided into word families; words are listed in order of how common they are in English.  (phonograms are also memorized in order of commonality, which helps the student, too)

 

I was a natural speller - I could see a word once and remember how to spell it.  But when I started using WRTR with my kids (and other kids I've tutored over the years), even I learned new things and became brave enough to tackle reading and spelling words I'd never seen before.  :D  My daughter had spelling troubles for a long time; but we persisted with WRTR, and she has greatly improved over the past couple of years.  She has gotten to the point where I agreed to drop WRTR for awhile and see how she does in her written work.  She agreed that she would write any misspelled words ten times correctly, and she has usually been able to figure out now where she went wrong in any misspelled word.  WRTR teaches you how to think your way through a word, both for spelling and for reading.

 

 

So using this as an example, I would have had the following conversation with my daughter:

 

"What is the first sound in 'Deere?'"

 

"d"

 

"What is the next sound?"

 

"e"  (picture it like a long-e sound dictionary marking)

 

"'e' from which phonogram?"

 

"'e' from 'double e'"  (which is the phonogram that looks like this:  ee) 

 

(but if she didn't know which phonogram that sounds came from, I would tell her and let her try to remember what "double e" looks like so she could write it down.  If she didn't remember what it looks like, THEN I would show her.)

 

"next sound?"

 

"r"

 

"yes.  Anything else after that sound?"

 

If she said "no," I'd tell her, "There is a 'no-job "e"" after the "r."  (she would have previously learned that silent "e" can do four different jobs in words, and that rarely there is a silent "e" that doesn't have a job in a word.

 

daughter writes that down.

 

Of course, in reality, my daughter now gets impatient with me if I go through this process with her now, lol, because she is so used to it - so she rapidly tries to take herself through it now (which is the whole point - she is thinking through, using her WRTR tools, how to spell out a word).  But I wrote this all down so you could see the thought and direct teaching process.

 

hth

 

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We tried everything with one of my children. We worked diligently. Ordered new curriculum when we heard of something...worked, worked, worked. Somewhere mid freshman year she rebelled: "No, I don't want to do one more spelling program!!!!"

 

So I informed her that spell check needed to be her best friend for the rest of her life, and we stopped.

 

By the time she went to college, she had started putting a lot of it together on her own. She still has errors, but nothing like it use to be. She still got a 4.0 in college. So maybe sometimes letting them figure it out on their own is not the worst thing you can do.

 

Just sayin'.

 

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So here are all the long E sounds..  No wonder she gets confused.  You just have to visually memorize them:

 

Key, piece, conceit (can actually use a rule IF she realizes it is an ie combination but why is it an ei instead of ea????) heal, me...

 

There is no rhyme or reason to this.

 

 

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And, from the Deere example, he knew there was a double letter.  

But because he loses track of the rules, he doubled the "r" rather than "e".

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Yes, but my daughter would spell it John Dear  or maybe John Deer

 

 

And, from the Deere example, he knew there was a double letter.  

But because he loses track of the rules, he doubled the "r" rather than "e".

 

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But how do you know whether it is Deere or dear???  I mean really Deere doesn't really follow any rules.  Those are most of the words that my daughter messes up, the ones that are exceptions that you just have to memorize..  Plus I can't figure out rhyme and reason as to why sometimes the long e sound is e consonant silent e, ea, ee and sometimes an I!!!  I just have a visual picture of how the word looks and many spelling programs we use don't seem to go into exactly when to use those different types..

 

Yes, this is why the teaching process of WRTR can be helpful.  You actually teach each word on the list (of 2,000 or so of the most common English words) via that process.  You also can go off on tangents of word origin (having studied Latin?  keep a dictionary on the table?) to help cement the answers to questions of "why this e sound and not that one??" etc. Yes, it's true that you have to memorize which phonograms go in which words and that sometimes there is a variety of options to choose from.  But the thought is that explicitly teaching/analyzing each of those most common words will help in that memorization process, as well as make the student more familiar with the sounds and rules.

 

So here are all the long E sounds..  No wonder she gets confused.  You just have to visually memorize them:

 

Key, piece, conceit (can actually use a rule IF she realizes it is an ie combination but why is it an ei instead of ea????) heal, me...

 

There is no rhyme or reason to this.

 

I suspect the rhyme and reason comes from word origin.  If one of my kids is questioning "why this phonogram for the sound instead of that one?", we would look up the word in a dictionary and find out why.  It's actually fun!  :D

 

And, from the Deere example, he knew there was a double letter.  

But because he loses track of the rules, he doubled the "r" rather than "e".

 

"double e" isn't a rule, so you would just directly tell him to write the "double e" phonogram if he didn't know what was making that long-e sound - the hope being that the next time he didn't know how to spell "Deere," (or whatever word) you would take him through that process again and he might remember that it was the "double e" that made that long e sound he is dictating to you.

 

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.

 

 

I suspect the rhyme and reason comes from word origin.  If one of my kids is questioning "why this phonogram for the sound instead of that one?", we would look up the word in a dictionary and find out why.  It's actually fun!  :D

 

 

 

You sound like my father who thought reading the dictionary was fun.  I try to avoid it at all costs.  He sent me there so many time and how DO you look up a word if you have no idea how to spell it???  And who cares whether the word comes from Latin or Greek or whatever.  It is just a word...

 

Sorry bad flashback from childhood.  He was bipolar and genius level IQ and had a knack of making me feel very, very stupid.

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We haven't given up yet. My severely dyslexic son will be 17 in July and we're still working on spelling every. single. day. 

 

We use Sequential Spelling. It isn't perfect, but it's a better fit than anything else we've tried, so we're sticking it out with a few minor adjustments. We've been using it for a little over two years and will soon finish level 4. We don't use the student workbooks, just the lists from the teacher's guides. 

 

 

Just for fun, I just asked Ds16 how to spell John Deere. He grabbed a pen and wrote "John deer/dear". :)

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You sound like my father who thought reading the dictionary was fun.  I try to avoid it at all costs.  He sent me there so many time and how DO you look up a word if you have no idea how to spell it???  And who cares whether the word comes from Latin or Greek or whatever.  It is just a word...

 

Sorry bad flashback from childhood.  He was bipolar and genius level IQ and had a knack of making me feel very, very stupid.

 

Oh, I wouldn't send kids to the dictionary if they had no clue how to spell a word!  What I meant is that we would look up the word (either I look it up or the kid looks it up going by the correct spelling written out on a piece of paper or something) and then read about the origin of it.  Then we'd talk about the origin and how that might have influenced how we spell the word we are working on.

 

Another thought I have is that spelling can be very difficult to master in isolation (and therefore pointless) for some kids.  It needs to be surrounded with lots of good reading, and later some type of word study such as what's found in Vocabulary From Classical Roots, and maybe a Latin or Greek study.  Otherwise, the words really do not make sense, as you say.  :D

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Just for fun, I just asked Ds16 how to spell John Deere. He grabbed a pen and wrote "John deer/dear". :)

 

And the funny thing is it's just not all that important in everyday life or academic life to memorize how to spell "Deere," as in someone's proper name, is it.  (I just used Erin's example to demonstrate teaching)  :D

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But how do you know whether it is Deere or dear???… I just have a visual picture of how the word looks and many spelling programs we use don't seem to go into exactly when to use those different types..

 

That's what the visual mnemonics devices (pictures and stories) in Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual, and the visual-memory techniques of Dianne Craft capitalize on, and what is esp. useful for strongly "right-brain" visual-spatial learners. That's the technique I adapted and included as part of our weekly whiteboard spelling time.

 

For example, for the "ee" or "ea" we made little pictures are each word and a little story:

 

"It makes two people to meet and meet is spelled with two "e"s (draw 2 stick figures shaking hands over the two "e"s). I love to eat meat -- see the word "eat" in "meat"? Also, draw the "a" in "meat" like a heart, or with a heart around it, to make the a stand out.

 

Same thing with lots of those vowel pairs:

"deer" = has two pairs of legs / "dear" = I love you so much, you are dear to me

"see" = to see you need two eyes / "sea" = I love going to the sea

 

 

I totally agree with Kathy in Richmond and Colleen in NS, that Spaulding and the 70 phonograms can be a super connection and "ah-ha" for many students, esp. if for VSL students you can couple the rules with visual images around the rule and an arresting story to help the phonogram stick firmly in long term memory. But… not a magic bullet for all. None of the programs I listed/linked are a match for everyone, either...

 

It's that dicey balancing game of trying to find what method works for which student AND for you, the teaching parent. PLUS. the timing of introducing the right method has to coincide when brain development is starting to make understanding of spelling possible -- BUT, that also has to be before the student is too frustrated to care to try anymore…  :eek:  :confused:

 

BEST of luck in your spelling journey! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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I totally agree with Kathy in Richmond and Colleen in NS, that Spaulding and the 70 phonograms can be a super connection and "ah-ha" for many students, esp. if for VSL students you can couple the rules with visual images around the rule and an arresting story to help the phonogram stick firmly in long term memory. But… not a magic bullet for all.

 

It's that dicey balancing game of trying to find what method works for which student AND for you, the teaching parent. ...

 

I don't think it's the magic bullet for all, either; and I hope my posts aren't coming across as if I do.  I only wanted to demonstrate a bit of how it works, since it's the base I happen to use (and I know there are other great bases out there).  When I am teaching spelling and reading via WRTR to students, I also incorporate whatever other teaching tricks I can think of for each individual student at any given time for any given individual snag. 

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I don't think it's the magic bullet for all, either; and I hope my posts aren't coming across as if I do.

 

SO sorry, didn't mean to imply that, Colleen! I totally didn't think that at all! :(

 

I know a number of people on this board have used WRTR successfully with older struggling students, and I really appreciated you posting, esp. since you could post personal experience and how your family used it in your great demo example. :)

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Now. Or, last year. At this age, their time is better spent on regular subjects. My dc have not had time to devote to spelling in high school. (I did start off trying to continue with it, but we never managed to get to it.) In the end, learning coping techniques (like spell check and lil sis) were more productive anyway. 

 

Still, I wouldn't give up.  I have a high school student in one of my classes who is extremely bright but struggles terribly with spelling.  What I did was pick a couple of words a week that she was consistently misspelling on in-class essays and tell her I wanted her to do whatever it took to get them down.  I think that made it manageable for her -- learning to spell everything correctly was an impossible task, but learning two or three words in a week was easy.  She has made great progress that way.

 

I always tell kids that spelling is like playing a sport.  Some kids are natural spellers like some are natural athletes, but a clumsy, awkward kid who goes out and shoots baskets and runs for a couple of hours a day can become a pretty good ballplayer.

 

Only, the clumsy, awkward kid who goes out and shoots and runs a couple of hours a day usually doesn't become a pretty good ballplayer in real life. They usually stay a clumsy, awkward ballplayer. Why not allow them to focus on their strengths instead of wasting all that time? Instead of forcing them to play ball for two hours a day, they spend that time practicing their violin which they adore and are good at. They see tremendous success and develop pride in their musical ability. That gives them confidence that leads to even more successes.

 

The man who originally diagnosed one of my dc with ld's gave me a good bit of advice: Spend more time teaching to her strengths than her weaknesses. He actually had percentages in there, but I have forgotten them. It helped me because I tended to focus on the areas where my children were lacking. You don't spell well; we have to triple out time on it. REading is hard; let's do it more often. All that time on those two subjects is going to keep us from science, but that is okay because you are good at it anyway. Emphasizing weaknesses was leading to burnout and negative self-worth. Turning it around and doing more science--happier, more productive learner. Not that you don't still do reading and spelling, but you take the time you would normally devote to those subjects and approach them in a different manner. In the case of someone in high school, that means spelling as a subject is gone because high school students don't study spelling as a subject.

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SO sorry, didn't mean to imply that, Colleen! I totally didn't think that at all! :(

 

 

Thanks, Lori!  I just wanted to be sure my posts were coming across as I intended.  :)

 

 

It's that dicey balancing game of trying to find what method works for which student AND for you, the teaching parent. PLUS. the timing of introducing the right method has to coincide when brain development is starting to make understanding of spelling possible -- BUT, that also has to be before the student is too frustrated to care to try anymore…  :eek:  :confused:

 

 

Yup.  :D

 

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Now. Or, last year.

We did no individual spelling this year (traditionally, kids are not doing "spelling" in junior high and we were busy enough with other work) but he dropped from 38th to 7th in his scores, leading me to think the work was helpful...  

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Totally JMO: That drop from 38th to 7th percentile in a year when no spelling work was being done also suggests to me that a some kind of spelling practice would be helpful. While I was not able to "click" with WRTR to make a go of it here, that may be a good option for your DS -- a more concentrated and time-intensive / teacher-intensive program, but only for a year. And, there are other options linked above to check out and see if any would fit specifically with your DS, and your family circumstances.

 

 

Lolly makes a good point about a sort of "law of diminishing returns"; at a certain point, the amount of work on the disability area will only bring a very small level of improvement, or perhaps even none. And clearly, there is no one right answer -- it will be unique with each student and family.

 

I did just want to comment on the basketball analogy that Lolly's specialist mentioned. I agree IF the goal of hours of work on basketball was to try to turn the clumsy, awkward student into a NBA player -- much better to drop the basketball and focus time and effort on the area of interest / strength.

 

But… I guess I see the basket analogy more as an occupational therapy model -- 10-15 minutes a day of practicing specific exercises for stretching, strengthening and ball handling isn't going to drain away very much time/energy from the student's strengths. It won't make the student a basketball superstar -- that's not the intent. That 10-15 min. a day is occupational therapy, meant to help train muscles into proper movement and ability and reduce the clumsy, awkward ball-playing (should the student decide to play pick-up games). And the goal and benefits are not just for playing basketball, but to provide benefits in other aspects of life as well -- physical activities such as walking/running, balance, handling objects -- and emotional benefits such as increased confidence, pride of accomplishment, and seeing that perseverance can bring improvement.

 

 

For us it was worth spending about 20 minutes a day on various spelling helps because it also was having the side effect of helping DS with writing, which was another area of disability. And I did personalized spelling, so it was also doing double-duty with vocabulary. Also, DS was willing to work on this area because he was starting to do some online interactions that required typing, and he was very aware of not wanting to look ignorant or stupid with poor spelling.

 

So for us, it was a small enough amount of time and mental energy to not distract from strengths or interests, or diminish energy directed towards those other pursuits. There was still enough return benefit to make the time investment in spelling work up to the senior year for our DS. And, along the way, he's also learned some coping mechanisms to help him function with poor spelling -- spell-check, ask a friend, use his electronic devices to access internet dictionary or a spell-check program when out somewhere and having to hand write an application or other document...

 

 

BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

 

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My ds is making good progress with Phonetic Zoo. He's still in Level B but chugging along and his spelling is improving. I think it's a really strong program.

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My son has the 3-dys's (dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia).  We took the last 2 years off grammar and spelling and focused more on math, science, and humanities-type classes, along with study skills.  He still had to write papers and such, but used spell check and I edited his grammar heavily in rough drafts without any sort of penalty to his grade.

One of my main goals in 9th and 10th was getting him ready for taking math classes at the CC (this fall), and it did pay off. We just can't do it all, all the time, without complete burn-out, IYKWIM.

Anyway - now that he's taking math and science at the CC (he was going to take math and Spanish, but we switched it because of my concern about the writing in Spanish) - I'm going to be focusing heavily on bridging the gaps in grammar, spelling, and composition so that he'll be ready for college after graduating.

I guess my point is that, for us, we had to pick just a couple of tough things to focus on and then work on subjects he was good at and enjoyed.  I could have made him miserable focusing all of our time of his weaknesses....  An earlier poster mentioned that - teaching to his strengths as well as weaknesses...  Very important :)

For spelling next year, I'm looking at Sequential Spelling and maybe MegaWords... Just now starting to really look into it... 

We're moving forward one goal at a time, instead of trying to make gains everywhere at the same time.  I'm thinking about Sequential Spelling for Adults - it's two levels, faster paced...  Anyone have experience with it?

 

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Buck just got his Stanford results today.  Pretty typical--  

Math and Science extremely high, Reading quite high, Language 30th%tile and Spelling 7th.  :001_rolleyes:

 

His Language and Spelling scores are usually well below average (though 7th%tile is a new low).  He's struggled with language arts since the get-go.  I'm actually extremely happy to see his Reading comprehension score was well above average this year.  We've really worked on that...and comprehension is such a vital skill.

 

 

But at what point do I give up trying to make him into a competent speller?  (He's already leaning pretty heavily on his computer/Tab's spell check, as well as little sis, the super-speller)

 

This is off topic, but I wanted to say that two years ago, my dd(then 11) had low Language scores. We bought CLE LA and had her begin a year behind where she placed and do two lessons a day. She jumped over 3 years in her scores in LA in just the one year of using CLE. She continued at the pace of two lessons a day. Her scored increased significantly again this year, but not quite as much, and I saw that specifically she now needs remediation in just the punctuation aspects. We will continue with that.

 

For spelling, we've had good success with using AAS from levels 1-7. We are just finishing 7 now but I think I will find something to continue with and will looking into Megawords I think or Phonetic Zoo.

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