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caedmyn

doing Megawords with a terrible speller

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DS10 is dyslexic.  He's done through Level 8 of Barton (reading and spelling program for dyslexia) and then spent all of last year reviewing the spelling in Barton because he'd apparently forgotten all of it.  He couldn't/wouldn't spell any better at the end of all that review than before it.  This year he's going though Megawords 1.  The first section is compound words, and we're having problems because he can't/won't apply the spelling that he's learned.  He generally doesn't know how to spell any sight words (in spite of the fact that we've gone over them all twice using the Barton methods, and he can spell them fine for a month or two afterwards and then forgets them) or anything that uses vowel teams.  I really don't know how to handle this.  Do I just tell him how to spell anything he says he doesn't know how to spell?  Make him review the rules on vowel teams every time and find the others from the list of words at the beginning of the Megawords book?  Give up on spelling entirely...after all, he can always use spell checkers?  (That last option is sounding really good right at the moment.)

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So sorry, but I have no idea what will help your DS. Every child is so different. 😞 

I would be careful about using the word "won't" / "wouldn't" about DS and the Barton techniques. Most kids are not outright defiant about refusing to use a tool in learning out of direct disobedience -- they may have an angry or defiant attitude, but it is usually out of feeling angry or frustrated from being *unable* to accomplish the learning task being required of them. Learning disabilities and inabilities often manifest as anger and defiance -- "Get this F-ing thing out of my face!" [subtext: "because I can't do it, and you're seeing that I can't do it, and that makes me feel a strong emotion!"]

Also, I doubt that just reviewing the rules is going to help unless you have some sort of very strong visual/image component attached to the review. Spelling is incredibly difficult for dyslexics for 2 reasons: it is abstract (the opposite of dyslexics who tend to be very concrete and need visuals in brain processing) -- and spelling is sequential (every letter must go into a rigid, left-to-right order), which is the very opposite of how dyslexics process, which is seeing all the letters at once, randomly, and not in an order.

I can only speak from my experience with DS#2, who had mild LDs (stealth dyslexia) in Spelling, Writing, and Math. There was definitely an element of delayed brain development that came into play for him. I tried a lot of different techniques for spelling up until he was about 11-12yo. And nothing stuck. It was not until the spelling portion of his brain started to mature that it started to "click" for him. However, in hindsight, I also think it was important that we continued to plug away at spelling instruction of various types while waiting for that brain maturity to click in.

Things that did help DS -- spending about 20-25 min/day, 4x/week, of 1-on-1  time for Spelling:

- using visual mnemonics to strengthen learning *and remembering* the vowel patterns
I used the Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual (scroll down a little past halfway to see it); and here is the info on their mnemonic technique. We went through the Blue Spelling Manual, and then I continued by making our our own mnemonic visuals and doing a variation on the dictation after completing the Blue Spelling Manual.

- whiteboard visual practice
3-4x/week -- whiteboard work together, using one color for the consonants and a different color for the vowel teams; practice adding endings (and required changes), prefixes, and suffixes, and making compound words. Also daily whiteboard work: drawing goofy pictures with "short stories" to help remember the vowel patterns -- images go straight to the right brain, where long term memory is stored, so it helps embed remembering of the abstract (example: "It takes 2 people to meet and greet " (draw 2 stick figures shaking hands over the 2 "e"s). And, "I love to eat meat" (draw a heart around the letter "a").)

- made our own spelling from The ABCs and All Their Tricks
We would focus on 1 or 2 vowel patterns a week, with the word list using words from The ABCs, plus some longer words that had the shorter words embedded in them, ala Sequential Spelling style of spelling. Example list of words for a week might be something like: at, bat, batter, battery, an, man, manners, unmannerly, Batman, at, tack, attacked, as, asp, clasp.

- out-loud spelling practice, to strengthen auditory memory/processing
Daily. We started the week by having the words written on the whiteboard, and reading the letters off in order; then we moved to back and forth out loud: I pronounce the word clearly, spell it aloud, toss him a beanie toy, then he pronounces, spells, tosses beaning back. If there is a mistake, instantly stop, write the word on the whiteboard and have him look at each letter and spell/say aloud at least 5 times to "re-write" over the mistake in his brain. The basic idea is from Andrew Pudewa's Spelling and the Brain lecture, and tossing the beanie is a variation on Carol Barnier's "Toss It" idea for helping ADD children maintain focus.

- dictation of short sentences to practice simultaneous thinking / writing / spelling 
About 2x/week. I made up 5 short sentences (about 5-6 words long), with each sentence having 2-3 spelling words in it. I dictated the sentence to DS, and he spelled aloud each word letter-by-letter as he wrote it. (Example of a sentence from the example list of spelling words above: "The asp attacked Batman.")

- typing, to strengthen catching his own spelling errors 
Along about 5th/6th grade, I had DS learn keyboarding / touch typing. Seeing the red markings of Spell-Check helped draw his attention to the word that there was something wrong with it that needed to be fixed.

Time consuming? Yes.

Pain in the butt? Certainly a pain in the time prior to the spelling starting to "click".

But in retrospect, it was worth the pain as he finally started to clear some of the spelling hurdles. (But, I'm not going to lie -- the time between age 7 to age 12 before spelling started to click was very LLOOOONNNNGGGG and painful. Especially since we were ALSO simultaneous dealing with issues with handwriting; writing; and math. 😫 )

I hit a year where I wanted to give up, too, when DS was along about 10yo. For that year, all I could manage for spelling was having him memorize about 250-300 of the most common words and homophones, and we flipped through and practiced them every day. (We added 10 new words each week, and then pulled up another 10 words of past words up to practice along with the new words each day.) We learned homophones like: there / their / they're, and, to / too / two. We also learned common "sight" or "dolce" words such as: our, you, the, of, was, would, and then words from the 500 most commonly used words. Plus we learned days of the week; months of the year; major holidays; and how numbers up through twenty and then the "decade" numbers up through "hundred".  I honestly don't know if that helped, but at least we were doing something, while we waited for his brain to mature, and for me to find another new program or technique that might help him.

I did not start Megawords with DS until he was about 12yo, which was just when he started to "click" with spelling (and was just after running through the mnemonics and Stevenson's Blue Spelling Manual), so I don't know if we would have had similar struggles if we had tried prior to DS's brain finally "clicking" a little bit with spelling and had those visual tools for practice. It was like each year, starting at age 12, his brain clicked a little more with spelling. He'll never be great at it, but he's not horribly handicapped by spelling now as an adult. When we did Megawords, I was also still doing most of the above techniques with DS -- we did all of that up into high school. About 10th grade we were able to drop the whiteboard work and the dictation. All the way through 12th grade we used Megawords + the spelling I made for DS from The ABCs and All Their Tricks + out loud spelling practice.

Again, I have no idea what would work for your DS, but from my experience with my own DS#2, I would probably suggest setting aside Megawords for now, as it sounds like he's not ready for it, and I would either try Apples and Pears (a different variation on the Barton and Orton-Gillingham methods), OR, possibly Sequential Spelling straight up -- there is an online version, which would likely be more solo-working for your DS. OR, go back to the Barton, BUT add in a lot of visual practice with 15 minutes of daily white board work -- use of colors, "story images", etc. And check out Dianne Craft's specific visual spelling suggestions -- see point #3 on the page I linked. Her technique is similar to those suggested by Jeffrey Freed in his book Right Brained Children in a Left Brained World.

If you think DS is very weak with the auditory-sequential aspect of spelling, then you might check out Andrew Pudewa's Phonetic Zoo, which has the added benefit of being done mostly solo by the student.

A very heartfelt BEST wishes for finding what works best for your DS. Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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Spelling Plus has much of the info from The ABCs and All their Tricks and focuses on the most common 1,000 words.  I would get both books and work on the words in Spelling Plus with Lori D's ideas.  She has a companion book Spelling Dictation with dictation sentences using the words.

You could also try Apples and Pears and their methods.  

I would focus on the 1,000 most common words, putting words back into the mix for review as needed.

Edited by ElizabethB
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Not sure if this will help at all but it is helping with my horrible speller (that potentially could be dyslexic) ... My dd has been struggling with vowel teams as well. I took all the ones we have learned so far (we are in AAS level 3) and I put each one in a picture that corresponds to the sound. So AW in a saw. OW in a cow etc. We are currently drawing the pictures and inserting the sounds every day the top of the spelling notebook. After a week of doing this, she can now draw the pics and insert the vowel teams into the pics on her own. Today when she got stuck (we didn't draw them at the top today) I simply reminded her to think of her pics and draw them if she needed them. She got them all right for the first time. (This is our third consecutive year trying AAS 3... every other year we bailed and tried something else. My dd could NOT associate the vowel teams with a sound, but the pictures made that extra connection she needed ... We will be headed into MW 1 after AAS 3. 

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1 hour ago, ByGrace3 said:

Not sure if this will help at all but it is helping with my horrible speller (that potentially could be dyslexic) ... My dd has been struggling with vowel teams as well. I took all the ones we have learned so far (we are in AAS level 3) and I put each one in a picture that corresponds to the sound. So AW in a saw. OW in a cow etc. We are currently drawing the pictures and inserting the sounds every day the top of the spelling notebook. After a week of doing this, she can now draw the pics and insert the vowel teams into the pics on her own. Today when she got stuck (we didn't draw them at the top today) I simply reminded her to think of her pics and draw them if she needed them. She got them all right for the first time. (This is our third consecutive year trying AAS 3... every other year we bailed and tried something else. My dd could NOT associate the vowel teams with a sound, but the pictures made that extra connection she needed ... We will be headed into MW 1 after AAS 3. 

I have a chart with the vowel teams, one of my students had so much trouble with ou the I made it red for him, ou ouch blood red. 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/Resources/OnePageVowelChart.pdf

They learn the sounds with the color version, then on the black and white chart.  I also teach along with it the normal spelling patterns for when each is used, within or at the end of a word or syllable:

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On Reading/Resources/PL26VowelChart.pdf

 

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This is really hard for kids with dyslexia! They tend to need a lot of ongoing review and reinforcement to get concepts. Teaching reading and spelling together can sometimes make the pace too fast for kids who just need more to master spelling, and along with going back through it all (good choice!), you likely need some kind of ongoing systematic review in place.

One thing that I found really helped my kids was to quickly review the new concept each day by stating what we had been working on. For example, “This week we are learning how to add silent E. Do you remember how silent E changes a word?”

or, “This week we are studying how to spell the /j/ sound at the end of a word. Do you remember what our choices are for that sound?” If your child remembers, great, praise him! Then ask a follow-up question, such as, “How do we decide which one to use?” At whatever point he doesn’t remember, review it. Then, walk through a tile demonstration whether he remembered or not, and have him teach it back to you.

This act of having the child teach it back to you makes them learn on a deeper level. They don't just memorize letters or learn a concept for that lesson but then forget it. They have to learn it more deeply in order to be able to explain it. Hearing and seeing are more passive ways of learning, while explaining and doing are more active--so you want to make sure that you incorporate all of those aspects until he finds the concept easy. Do this type of review daily until your child can easily remember the new concept and teach it back to you with the tiles without your help or prompting (but while he is working towards mastery, give all the help and prompting needed. Don’t stop helping/prompting until it’s obvious he doesn’t need it.)

I used a different program, All About Spelling, with my kids, and I used to review all phonogram cards, sound cards (you say the sounds and they write the phonogram), and key concept cards (rules) monthly, a few cards each day. It doesn't take long daily, but when I talk about ongoing systematic review, that's part of what I mean. I also reviewed all word cards systematically--daily until they could spell it easily (no guessing or self-correcting) on a Monday (if they remembered it after a weekend, it was more likely to be mastered.) Then weekly for 3 weeks, then once a month later, and then it went to a "mastered' tab where it would be reviewed one more time a few months later before being dropped from the review. AAS makes it easy to set up a customizable review system to whatever your child needs.

Mistakes outside of spelling time are going to be common, probably into junior high or high school depending on the severity of his dyslexia. When students are writing outside of spelling time, they have many more things to focus on--content, creativity, organization, punctuation, spelling, grammar, capitalization, what kind of audience they are addressing--it's a lot to think about at once. Even professional writers need proofreaders, so students definitely need ongoing training in this area. Here's more info on how to handle spelling mistakes.

Anyway--you can get there, but there's no magic bullet, and it's something that will take time.

HTH as you think through how best to help your son!

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I come from a family of dyslexics, I have stealth dyslexia and I have 3 children with profound dyslexia. We have done intensive phonics instruction for many many years. My kids really struggled with spelling .

My oldest, an aerospace engineer  still spells we as wea - because ea has a long e sound. He cannot even recognise that it looks wrong. 

My goal shifted to around 10 being able to touch type, and  know how to spell well enough to use spell checker. 

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On September 16, 2019 at 12:58 PM, caedmyn said:

DS10 is dyslexic. 

If this is the dc who needs VT, then his visual memory may be affected, which would explain why the spelling is not sticking.

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