One of the exciting things about working at Desiderata School is getting to customize curriculum for each student. In an effort to capitalize on that strength, I have rescued a number of things from the homeschooling bins in our basement. The most impressive one to date has been the Spelling Power program. I’m falling in love with it all over again.
Basically, every student spends 15 minutes a day on their own custom spelling program. Rather than summarizing, I refer you to the Spelling Power website to learn more about the general program structure.
As my class group is capped at 8 students, I will never spend more than 40 minutes of our 1 1/2 hour literacy block administering daily tests. I have the freedom to spend this time in large part due to the Daily 5 framework we are using in that block. I know it may be a challenge for larger classroom settings. However, I think Spelling Power could be adapted to a larger classroom by grouping students according to their initial placement test, and administering the Daily Spelling Test to a small group of 4-6 children at a time. Students could move between groups in order to accommodate faster or slower progress through the word groups. Students could also be trained to have a Spelling buddy who could test their missed words from the previous day prior to the group test. It could even be used in conjunction with a district selected spelling list by testing those words first each week, and then progressing into the Spelling Power Word List.
As a parent, I particularly love the idea of not having a spelling list to deal with at home each week, but rather for students to spend a few minutes each day studying only the words that they need to learn and for missed words to be recycled back into their lists rather than moving on without mastery.
Currently, I have three students working within a couple of word groups of each other that I could easily combine to free up some additional time. I have found this time to be a great place to touch base with each student individually, to closely observe things like letter formation, and to tweak the pace of the program based on what I know of the child, so for now it is a high priority when I budget my time.
The beautiful thing about this program is that I can add misspelled words from their writing in simply by having them add the words to their daily study sheet. I mentioned to a student that we just ‘folded in’ those words, like chocolate chips into cookie dough. I was told in no uncertain terms that I could not compare spelling with making chocolate chip cookies! 🙂 Overall, the students are quite happy with it, other than a certain amount of frustration at misspelling words on a daily basis. My hope for them next semester is that they learn to approach the missed words with curiosity rather than a sense of failure.
If you have the opportunity to customize spelling lists to each student, this is an amazing instruction method that benefits all kinds of learners. Now I’m wondering…. How are you creating and using custom spelling lists?