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I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Friday, February 24, 2017

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

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My daughter has reached the end of the All About Spelling journey. She's just finishing up Level 7, the final book in the Orton-Gillingham based program, and is ready to spell in the real world.

She and I started the course four years ago at a time when we were at a spelling LOW. We had been using a traditional program. You know the type...the kind that provides a lengthy list of meaningless words to memorize and a weekly test to prove mastery. And although she was an avid reader, an exceptional writer, and scored well-above average on all the other language portions of her state achievement tests, she just couldn't seem to grasp spelling. She plodded along in the "regular" spelling program for a few years until one day, she and I both became too frustrated. I pulled the plug and ordered All About Spelling.


I had heard great things about AAS and was intrigued by the idea of teaching a child HOW to spell not WHAT to spell. Little did I know that switching curriculums would be the first step in creating a great speller.

In the past four years, I've seen her spelling not only improve to grade level, but beyond it. 

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

Like much of my homeschooling, the path to great spelling was a bit of a windy one. It wasn't necessarily a just-add-water-and-stir kind of endeavor. Improvement came slowly but steadily with the help of a few tools. 

Here are the three simple ways that gave her spelling success. 

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

Using All Levels of All About Spelling

All About Spelling is not your typical spelling program and that can be scary for some. Kids who use AAS don't always start spelling right away because spelling right away is not the goal...long term spelling is. It's easy to jump-ship on a curriculum when you don't see immediate results or when the water gets a little rough. But All About Spelling is definitely one of those programs that you need to see through to the very end. Because it's not a teach-to-the-test curriculum, each level builds upon itself. You have to start at the very beginning and work your way to the final page of the last level in order to get the full effect.

I'll admit, I was a little nervous starting my fourth grader all the way back at Level 1 when we first began this new-to-us curriculum. But, I can see now that it was a necessary first step. She zipped through the first two books which not only helped to build her spelling confidence, but also provided her with a really strong foundation of the first initial rules of spelling. Each level added onto those skills. When she finally arrived at Level 7, she had learned and mastered nearly all the rules of spelling English words and could apply those rules to spelling ANY word...not just a handful of arbitrary words on some government-issued list. 

The seventh and final level has had her 
  • dissecting word roots in order to spell and understand unfamiliar words
  • learning several spelling rules for foreign words that have been adopted into the English language
  • and creating short stories with which to practice her spelling skills in the real world of writing. 
All About Spelling has given her a toolbox of spelling skills and has provided her with a lifetime ability to spell any word from here on out.

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

Reading and Being Read To Every Single Day

My daughter is a voracious reader. Always has been. The day-in, day-out exposure she has had to really good books has slowly built up her internal lexicon. Words that she's seen often enough in passive reading have eventually transferred to her active writing. She now has a much easier time recognizing a misspelled word than she did even a few years ago because she has been reading and reading and reading. And slowly over time, she has begun to recognize the right look of many words. So much of her spelling is now on autopilot because her brain has a storehouse of thousands and thousands of words in its memory.

Reading aloud to her each day has also been a slow-and-steady way to build up her spelling skills. Although she doesn't necessarily see the words I read aloud, she hears me pronounce them...all of them...and hears how they change depending upon how they are used in the sentence. For instance, she hears how to make words plural without actually having one single lesson in singular and plural spelling...wolf becomes wolves; chief becomes chiefs; deer doesn’t change. She also hears me read hard and unfamiliar words expanding her frame of reference beyond just the words she can read.

Last year, I read a book to all of my kids, the setting of which was the Southwestern part of the United States, an area that I am quite familiar with. So many of the names of people, places, and animals mentioned in the book had Native American and Hispanic influences. Consequently, the pronunciations did not follow the English spelling rules that my daughter had previously learned in AAS. One particular section of the book was about a gila monster, a poisonous desert lizard. Now if my daughter had just read that book on her own, she probably would have internally pronounced the word j-i-l-a or perhaps even g-i-l-a based on her experience with the English sounds for the letter g. But she would have been wrong. Since I know that word is actually pronounced hee-lah, I read it as such. Now whenever my daughter sees the word g-i-l-a in a book, she knows how to read it correctly, takes note of its unusual spelling, and is more mindful to spell it out slowly and deliberately. 

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

Typing all of her writing projects

When she had two or three years of Typing Instructor for Kids under her belt, I insisted that she start typing out most of her writing projects. Not only did this provide her with some natural typing practice nearly every day, but it also gave her a sneaky lesson in spelling. Like most word document programs, our version of Pages underlines every misspelled word but does not auto-correct them. When typing, my daughter has always been able to see when she's misspelled a word and has had to manually change it. Sometimes that has required her to look up the word in a dictionary app. Other times, she has been able to just change a few letters here and there based on her memory of the spelling rules. The repetitive misspelling and correcting of a handful of words over and over again has solidified the accurate spelling of those words in her mind. 

3 Simple Ways to Spelling Success: Thoughts from an All About Spelling Graduate

Her first four years of spelling were discouraging. State achievement test after state achievement test showed her to be deficient. But, I knew that just wasn't so. I knew she just needed the right tools to help unlock words. With time and the slow-and-steady help of All About Spelling, good books, and daily typing practice, my daughter is now an above average speller. 

More thoughts on All About Spelling

8 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post! My son is on AAS Level 3, and while he seems to get remember the concept for a while, when we go back to review every so often, he tends to forget how to spell words he's already learned. This is encouraging to remember to stick with it, and someday it will become easier for him!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep at it. And keep reviewing often. Repetition is the key to learning.

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  2. This was a fantastic read! My 11 year old son is also a voracious reader but his spelling ability does not seem to match his reading ability. He is in a private, classical school now but I've considered buying the program to do with him at home. I will be ordering L 1 & 2 to begin with my son. This was very encouraging to hear.

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    Replies
    1. Those are great levels to start with. They build the foundation of the entire program.

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  3. This is a wonderful review! Thank you. I especially love how you explained the benefits of reading aloud to children, even children that read well.

    However, I had a bit of a grin, as my kids recognize gila so early that it actually causes them to try to read English words with /h/ on occasion. One of the risks of growing up in the Southwest. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember one of my highschool teachers pronouncing it with a hard g sound and just chuckling because I knew she was wrong.

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  4. Hi Jamie,
    Thank you so much this post! Really fantastic!I count myself for a newbie in homeschooling, and I would like to meet/speak other homeschooling moms.
    I got a recommendation of the "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons. If u know the book,which one do u recommend for me if my child's 2nd language the english? I took her out from 2nd grade, she homeschooled 1,5 years now, but how I learned from topics, I want her to mastering the spelling too.I using Math u see, and the best reviewed books from Amazon,Spelling, grammar, Magic tree house, Little House in the Big Woods,Geography 3-6.
    I fallow the Ambleside online, but I still struggling with schedule. Strict schedules doesn't work for us, just flexible.
    Thank you your help!
    Violet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My advice is to always start with All About Spelling level 1. That's where kids learn the foundation of the program. Plus it will be good review for your daughter. Ambleside online is a great program. I highly recommend it!

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