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What books or resources have you found helpful to teach spelling?  It could be a curriculum that is very helpful or a stand alone book that is a good resource.  My oldest daughter is struggling with spelling, and I'm not sure what's "normal" and what's an issue. 

Edit:  My daughter is in second grade and will turn 8 in December.

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I found The ABCs and All Their Tricks to be helpful for ME in seeing all the possible sounds of letters and letter pairs, and the language origin of exceptions. I was able to use it to create individualized spelling for my DSs starting about 6th grade and into high school.

However... that does NOT sound like what you are looking for. What you describe -- "struggling with spelling, and I'm not sure what's "normal" and what's an issue" -- actually sounds like you might want to have DD evaluated, which could provide a specific diagnosis if there is an issue, which in turn would provide specific resources that would best fit for DD's needs.

How old is the student, and what are the specific problems with the spelling? That would help people provide more specifically targeted help for you, rather than throwing a lot of spelling program ideas at you. 😉 It's important to know what exactly the struggle area is in order to suggest a program that specifically targets that struggle area.

Even if there are no LDs, there are many places where spelling can go wonky for a child, if the child doesn't understand or is weak with:
-  phonics and vowel patterns
- syllabication patterns, which helps the child break the word into bites for spelling attack
- sequential processing (spelling is completely sequential -- left-to-right and each letter in correct order)
- memorization -- specifically, putting spelling patterns into long-term memory

Also: Are the spelling struggles in the actual spelling practice and testing? Or mostly in using correct spelling *while writing*?

If only while writing, bear in mind that: 1.) thinking of what to write, 2.) the physical act of getting those words onto paper, and 3.) correcting spelling while writing, are 3 very different tasks, each processed in a very different part of the brain. MANY children cannot simultaneously juggle all three at the same time until somewhere along about age 9-12. Some people never are able to juggle these tasks simultaneously, so going back and revising and editing is *always* going to be necessary for them...

Just a few random thoughts to get the discussion rolling... Warmest regards, Lori D.

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1 hour ago, JoyKM said:

What books or resources have you found helpful to teach spelling?  It could be a curriculum that is very helpful or a stand alone book that is a good resource.  My oldest daughter is struggling with spelling, and I'm not sure what's "normal" and what's an issue. 

How old is your daughter? What are you currently doing to teach spelling?

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She's in second grade and will be 8 soon.  Last year was when I first started noticing her spelling issues--she was in public school, and her teacher would display student work on the wall.  When I'd go in and help out I'd notice that most of the kids in her class would have much, much better spelling in their writing--they would take the time to write each sound in a word whereas she would just toss out a few letters even with commonly used words she should eventually know.  She would have spelling tests each week involving a short list of sight words or words with the same endings, and she would always do so well on those tests that I decided to stop practicing spelling words at home--she got enough practice at school.  Before things shut down for covid her teacher and I had been discussing it, but after the shut downs I moved into prepping to homeschool mode.  She can read a little bit above grade level but does have issues tracking her words on pages that are dense with lines--nothing too disturbing yet in that area.

She has so far continued to have the issue with spelling without at least acknowledging all sounds in a word until recently--I notice spottier attempts to at least acknowledge each sound in the word.  I looked up the stages of learning to spell, and phonetic spelling is a stage.  I'm wondering if it just took her awhile to develop to this point (which she is by no means super great at yet, but there has been a noticeable change).  That's why I'm wondering if she's perhaps just a late bloomer with spelling or if she actually has issues with using phonics to spell words.  This year with this in mind I have mainly been in research mode and taking a few weeks to watch what she does.  We have done dictations for spelling as part of her curriculum (she does well), and it also has us practicing sight words.  I recently began a daily journal prompt, and she normally draws pictures in it with short sentences as captions or labels.  This has given me more insight into her spelling ability. I've been prioritizing researching curricula, getting a feel for what might work best at home, and getting a grasp on what her issue might actually be over taking on another curriculum at this point.   A couple of books have stood out to me over the past few months as very helpful as the teacher, and I'm hoping to find something similar for spelling.

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14 hours ago, JoyKM said:

She's in second grade and will be 8 soon. 
... Last year...she would just toss out a few letters even with commonly used words she should eventually know. 
... She would have spelling tests each week ...and she would always do so well on those tests...

That could be the difficulty of juggling spelling / thinking / writing I mentioned up-thread, and it may just take another year or so to resolve once all 3 of those different brain areas kick in and mature, and can "cross-connect" to allow for "juggling" all those areas simultaneously.
 

14 hours ago, JoyKM said:

... I'm wondering if she's perhaps just a late bloomer with spelling or if she actually has issues with using phonics to spell words...
... She can read a little bit above grade level but does have issues tracking her words on pages that are dense with lines...

Yes, very possible to be a late-bloomer. My DS#2 was an extremely late bloomer -- age 12 before spelling AT ALL began to click for him. (Yes, we were doing very phonics-based reading and spelling.) BUT... he most likely has "stealth dyslexia" -- struggles with spelling and writing, and a delayed reader. (Even now as an adult has a bit of a  tendency to guess rather than slow down and sound out, which is very painful and difficult for those with full-blown dyslexia.)

re: tracking words on a page while reading:

Dyslexia often is most apparent in reading, and it often appears to the person dealing with dyslexia as though the words are jumping around on the page, or even individual letters within a word are jumbling and order is not the same each time they look at the word.

Stealth dyslexia appears more as issues with writing, but also has a more subtle, easier to hide/easier to miss reading component.

For reading, DS#2 and I did "buddy reading" ("you read a page, I read a page") for some of his reading all the way through 12th grade, which helped him practice slowing down and sounding out accuracy, and the buddy reading helped him with comprehension, as it gave him a break where he listened and "caught up" again -- sometimes reading can be such hard work, that there is no brain power left for comprehending what was just read. That eased over the years for DS#2, due to our regular practice of out loud together "buddy reading".

Also, I used a blank index card which we slid along under the line being read, whether I was reading aloud (and he was following along with his eyes), or whether he was reading aloud. I have since read that the index card should go *above* the line being read... But I also see examples of it being used *below* the line being read... So not sure which is better or why.

Another thing that helps some stealth dyslexics is to place a colored transparency sheet over the page to reduce glare, and it helps the letters stop "jumping around."

Just mentioning all of that about dyslexia / stealth dyslexia in case it becomes more clear that there is something going on for your DD...
 

14 hours ago, JoyKM said:

... We have done dictations for spelling as part of her curriculum (she does well), and it also has us practicing sight words...

Awesome job! 😄

Dictation of short sentences with several spelling words in them also worked very well for my struggling speller (once he finally began to "click" with spelling AT ALL along about age 12). I also had him spell each word aloud as he was writing each letter. 
 

14 hours ago, JoyKM said:

...  A couple of books have [been]... very helpful as the teacher, and I'm hoping to find something similar for spelling.

Can't think of any books, unless possibly things that focus on phonics-based instruction for reading (and spelling):
- Uncovering the Logic of English (Eide)
- Spell to Write and Read (Senseri)
- The Writing Road to Reading (Spalding)
- or any of the Orton-Gillington or Barton methodology books on reading/phonics

Possibly you might find some tips and helps in the articles (and links to resources) on spelling and phonics on The Phonics Page website (free), put together by ElizabethB from these boards. And also in the Spelling and the Brain lecture (free) by Andrew Pudewa (the Institute for Excellence in Writing And Phonetic Zoo publisher). Also, you might look at the Dianne Craft techniques for children with "blocked learning gates".

For figuring out my own DS#2's spelling issues, I never did find a single resource, but was able to cobble together techniques from many resources and programs that helped us to target all of his different specific issues. The following may not be of help at all to you, but I'll throw it out there, just in case something "clicks":

Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual
Visual method of mnemonics for teaching vowel pairs and homophones. Also has you use the dictation of short sentences to strengthen the sequential aspect of spelling. The spelling manual is part of the overall Stevenson LA program that also includes reading, and the use of mnemonics in both reading and spelling. We used a lot of the visual mnemonics for practicing vowel pairs, as well as word endings, prefixes, etc. on the whiteboard -- creating little "stories" and stick figures to help embed spelling patterns into memory.

Sequential Spelling
Program designed for dyslexics; for grade 4+. Teaches starting with a small base word and building out, adding prefixes, compounds, endings, but also seeing smaller words within larger words. I used these ideas (not the program itself) in creating individualized spelling lists for DS#2.

Spelling and the Brain + Toss It (<-- tip #4 in this blog list)
Andrew Pudewa's description of spelling as an incredibly sequential activity, led to us practicing spelling words out loud to strengthen weak auditory-sequential processing. We coupled this with Carol Barnier's technique of Toss It, which helps keep the student focused on the task and on mental work. How we combined these: have the words written on a whiteboard for the first few days; I clearly say the word, then spell the word pointing to each letter, then toss a beanie toy to DS#2; then he clearly says the word, spells the word pointing to each letter, and tosses the beanie back. If a mistake is made, instantly stop and I repeat the word and spelling several times correctly and have DS#2 repeat correctly so that the incorrect spelling cannot embed. After a few days of this, take the whiteboard away, and now the out loud back-and-forth spelling practice is all auditory-sequential.

Mary Pecci: Word Skills (gr. 3-5); Megawords (gr. 4+)
Teaching syllable patterns helps with spelling attack, and also in learning patterns for adding endings, plurals, and contractions. In the grade 3-5 range we used some of the work pages in Mary Pecci's Word Skills workbook -- short, simple, visually engaging and fun idea of "magic presto-chango" to help embed the patterns of change.

Writing 8s
Not directly linked to DS#2's spelling, but he struggled with brain hemisphere connections, which results in struggles in transferring learning from short-term memory (left hemisphere) to long-term memory (right hemisphere) <--- which is where you need spelling patterns to end up. It wasn't until high school that we stumbled across the Writing 8s exercise, and we did a modified/shortened version each day to help strengthen brain hemisphere connections.

You can also do cross-lateral physical/body exercises to help with strengthening brain hemisphere connections.


Hope something there helps get you to the resources that are what will best help you teach spelling. 😄 Warmest regards, Lori D.

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On 10/25/2020 at 7:47 AM, JoyKM said:

That's why I'm wondering if she's perhaps just a late bloomer with spelling or if she actually has issues with using phonics to spell words. 

Phonics and spelling are different. Phonics says that dge says /j/; spelling says that we use dge after a single "short" vowel. Phonics says that c has two sounds, /k/ and /s/. Spelling says that we say /s/ when c is followed by e, i, or y.

Some children more intuitively learn those spelling things; some children need more direct instruction. Although your dd could have some learning issues, she might also be helped by a more explicit spelling instruction such as Spalding, which would also help improve her reading ability.

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On 10/25/2020 at 6:25 PM, Lori D. said:


Stealth dyslexia appears more as issues with writing, but also has a more subtle, easier to hide/easier to miss reading component.

For reading, DS#2 and I did "buddy reading" ("you read a page, I read a page") for some of his reading all the way through 12th grade, which helped him practice slowing down and sounding out accuracy, and the buddy reading helped him with comprehension, as it gave him a break where he listened and "caught up" again -- sometimes reading can be such hard work, that there is no brain power left for comprehending what was just read. That eased over the years for DS#2, due to our regular practice of out loud together "buddy reading".

Also, I used a blank index card which we slid along under the line being read, whether I was reading aloud (and he was following along with his eyes), or whether he was reading aloud. I have since read that the index card should go *above* the line being read... But I also see examples of it being used *below* the line being read... So not sure which is better or why.

Another thing that helps some stealth dyslexics is to place a colored transparency sheet over the page to reduce glare, and it helps the letters stop "jumping around."

Just mentioning all of that about dyslexia / stealth dyslexia in case it becomes more clear that there is something going on for your DD...
 

Awesome job! 😄

Dictation of short sentences with several spelling words in them also worked very well for my struggling speller (once he finally began to "click" with spelling AT ALL along about age 12). I also had him spell each word aloud as he was writing each letter. 
 

Can't think of any books, unless possibly things that focus on phonics-based instruction for reading (and spelling):
- Uncovering the Logic of English (Eide)
- Spell to Write and Read (Senseri)
- The Writing Road to Reading (Spalding)
- or any of the Orton-Gillington or Barton methodology books on reading/phonics

Possibly you might find some tips and helps in the articles (and links to resources) on spelling and phonics on The Phonics Page website (free), put together by ElizabethB from these boards. And also in the Spelling and the Brain lecture (free) by Andrew Pudewa (the Institute for Excellence in Writing And Phonetic Zoo publisher). Also, you might look at the Dianne Craft techniques for children with "blocked learning gates".

For figuring out my own DS#2's spelling issues, I never did find a single resource, but was able to cobble together techniques from many resources and programs that helped us to target all of his different specific issues. The following may not be of help at all to you, but I'll throw it out there, just in case something "clicks":

Stevenson Blue Spelling Manual
Visual method of mnemonics for teaching vowel pairs and homophones. Also has you use the dictation of short sentences to strengthen the sequential aspect of spelling. The spelling manual is part of the overall Stevenson LA program that also includes reading, and the use of mnemonics in both reading and spelling. We used a lot of the visual mnemonics for practicing vowel pairs, as well as word endings, prefixes, etc. on the whiteboard -- creating little "stories" and stick figures to help embed spelling patterns into memory.

Sequential Spelling
Program designed for dyslexics; for grade 4+. Teaches starting with a small base word and building out, adding prefixes, compounds, endings, but also seeing smaller words within larger words. I used these ideas (not the program itself) in creating individualized spelling lists for DS#2.

Spelling and the Brain + Toss It (<-- tip #4 in this blog list)
Andrew Pudewa's description of spelling as an incredibly sequential activity, led to us practicing spelling words out loud to strengthen weak auditory-sequential processing. We coupled this with Carol Barnier's technique of Toss It, which helps keep the student focused on the task and on mental work. How we combined these: have the words written on a whiteboard for the first few days; I clearly say the word, then spell the word pointing to each letter, then toss a beanie toy to DS#2; then he clearly says the word, spells the word pointing to each letter, and tosses the beanie back. If a mistake is made, instantly stop and I repeat the word and spelling several times correctly and have DS#2 repeat correctly so that the incorrect spelling cannot embed. After a few days of this, take the whiteboard away, and now the out loud back-and-forth spelling practice is all auditory-sequential.

Mary Pecci: Word Skills (gr. 3-5); Megawords (gr. 4+)
Teaching syllable patterns helps with spelling attack, and also in learning patterns for adding endings, plurals, and contractions. In the grade 3-5 range we used some of the work pages in Mary Pecci's Word Skills workbook -- short, simple, visually engaging and fun idea of "magic presto-chango" to help embed the patterns of change.

Writing 8s
Not directly linked to DS#2's spelling, but he struggled with brain hemisphere connections, which results in struggles in transferring learning from short-term memory (left hemisphere) to long-term memory (right hemisphere) <--- which is where you need spelling patterns to end up. It wasn't until high school that we stumbled across the Writing 8s exercise, and we did a modified/shortened version each day to help strengthen brain hemisphere connections.

You can also do cross-lateral physical/body exercises to help with strengthening brain hemisphere connections.


Hope something there helps get you to the resources that are what will best help you teach spelling. 😄 Warmest regards, Lori D.

Thank you for all of this and for mentioning stealth dyslexia. I have a hunch that something mild is going on—she can keep up for the most part but has these little odd quirks come up (like very bad spelling, not hearing or writing all sounds in a word while she spells, jumping down two or three lines mid sentence while reading, and yesterday she told her sister to spell “of” as “uv” despite a lot of exposure—stuff like that.). We have tried the card but I will look at the colored overlays. I have seen them before but didn’t think to try them!  If this stuff works and is easy to implement then I’ll try! On the one hand I want to allow her the chance to develop if she isn’t a late bloomer but on the other I need to keep track of the bigger picture and see if these resolve. My husband looked at some of her writing and was concerned, too. 

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5 hours ago, Ellie said:

Phonics and spelling are different. Phonics says that dge says /j/; spelling says that we use dge after a single "short" vowel. Phonics says that c has two sounds, /k/ and /s/. Spelling says that we say /s/ when c is followed by e, i, or y.

Some children more intuitively learn those spelling things; some children need more direct instruction. Although your dd could have some learning issues, she might also be helped by a more explicit spelling instruction such as Spalding, which would also help improve her reading ability.

I’ll look more closely at Spaulding—I’ve heard it’s hard to implement but overall like the general idea around the method. I’m also dabbling with making my own materials so maybe it would work well!

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38 minutes ago, JoyKM said:

I’ll look more closely at Spaulding—I’ve heard it’s hard to implement but overall like the general idea around the method. I’m also dabbling with making my own materials so maybe it would work well!

Spalding (notice the spelling, lol) is not *hard* to implement, but it is teacher intensive (not time intensive, but teacher intensive), and it does require you to study the manual (Writing Road to Reading) before you can start teaching it. Once you do, though, you just pick up and do it each day. No prep or anything. Also, I recommend the fourth edition of the manual, which can still be found on Amazon and other places. You don't need any of the materials sold on the publisher's web site.

And also, if you like the idea of Spalding, then I'd do Spalding and nothing else, because it's comprehensive and complete. My friends who complained about how Spalding wasn't "working" were actually mixing other stuff in with it; when they went back to the method, they saw really excellent results.

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You may want to look into All About Spelling. It's great for kids who struggle with spelling and also for kids with dyslexia, and really helped my kids. Here's a review I did on my blog. With regard to leaving sounds out of words, one of the things it works on is how to segment words into sounds--and then it incrementally teaches them how to represent the sounds they hear in a word. I hope you find a good program to help your daughter!

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On 10/25/2020 at 8:47 AM, JoyKM said:

She can read a little bit above grade level but does have issues tracking her words on pages that are dense with lines--nothing too disturbing yet in that area.

If she has developmental vision problems going on, they can glitch her visual memory. Poor visual memory will glitch her spelling. 

So get her eyes checked by a developmental optometrist and sort that out before starting your next program. You actually don't know what the *problem* is here yet. You might even have a combo of problems. 

On 10/25/2020 at 8:47 AM, JoyKM said:

She has so far continued to have the issue with spelling without at least acknowledging all sounds in a word until recently--I notice spottier attempts to at least acknowledge each sound in the word.  I looked up the stages of learning to spell, and phonetic spelling is a stage.  I'm wondering if it just took her awhile to develop to this point (which she is by no means super great at yet, but there has been a noticeable change).  That's why I'm wondering if she's perhaps just a late bloomer with spelling or if she actually has issues with using phonics to spell words. 

So if you want a little trivia, this can also be connected to ADHD and an auditory processing disorder. You can google APD vs. dyslexia and you'll see differences in how they spell. 

Rather than assuming what's going on, maybe get some screenings done, see what you can find. Late bloomer is usually at least code for ADHD. Sounds like you have some vision issues. My ADHD dd had really crunchy spelling in spite of years of SWR/WRTR. Huge fan of those methodologies, and it was just incomprehensible to me why she struggled. Then we got her vision checked with a developmental optometrist and turned out she had the visual memory of a *2* year old!! Talk about late bloomer, hahaha. We did the VT (vision therapy) and she started inhaling spelling. At that point we went through AAS 1-6 as a refresher and things were finally clicking. We did dictation another year or two and then dropped.

At some point it's not about the curriculum and you have to address the real problems. Interestingly, that dd also has some crunchy components of her auditory processing and now my ds turns out to also. He's diagnosed with dyslexia as well. There's sort of this overlap but they distinguish them too. So I suggest digging. Your ps could do these evals for you in fact. They should have the TAPS, which is a test of auditory processing. Their psych could screen her for ADHD. You can probably get them to pay for vision if you can't afford it. You'd be looking for a developmental optometrist.

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