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Three paradigms of spelling instruction in Grades 3 to 6
Student-oriented paradigm
Learning to spell is a very complex process.
There are three main differences between the previous two paradigms, the traditional and transitional paradigms:
• learning to spell is seen as a developmental process,
• reading provides a context for learning to spell, and
• spelling is a functional component of writing. 


Theory and research
• It emerges from Piaget’s cognitive and Magoon’s social-constructivist theories rooted in the work of Bruner and Vygotsky.
• Language learning is a self-determined process.
• Scaffolding and zone of proximal development. 

Spelling as a developmental process
• Maturing spellers use their knowledge of how words sound and look; analogy; linguistic context, and reference to authority.
• Templeton (1992) mentioned that the derivational constancy stage is very complex, involving several phonetic, orthographic, and semantic relationships that take years to master. 
• Each student’s development is unique.
• Students in any one class rarely demonstrate similar spelling behaviors at any one time. 

Spelling in reading and writing contexts

• Students require many opportunities to read and write in order to generalize and internalize the function of spelling.
• Callaway, McDaniel, and Mason (1972) conducted reported that classrooms emphasizing reading and writing produced better spellers. 
• Krashen (1993) indicated that most words we know how to spell were learned incidentally through reading.
• Spelling through writing develops more effectively under certain conditions:
(a) when students’ approximate spelling (invented spellings) are initially accepted;
(b) when students are informed about their positive spelling efforts;
(c) when spelling errors are used to inform teachers about the need for instruction;
(d) when students work on a few misspelled words at a time;
(e) when students learn to edit their writing for spelling errors prior to publication. 

Spelling practices
• Spelling instruction takes into account the needs and developmental stages of students, and is linked to contexts of reading and writing processes.


 
 Developmental spelling strategies
Two ways to deal with developmental spelling is through…
• a systematic program of word study where teachers plan word sorts and word games according to students’ developmental stages;
• student writing efforts along with teacher guidance. 

Spelling and reading practices
 Word study through literature
 Theme units
 Special words
 Spelling and writing
 Conferences
 Matacognitive conferences
 Teacher conference log
 Minilessons
 Have-a-try
 Student learning logs
 Editing and proofreading processes
 Spelling lists and study procedures
 Word study through literature

• Familiar words in stories that share common phonetic, visual, semantic and derivational pattern provide an authentic source for learning spelling patterns.
• As a review at the end of a novel study or theme unit, each group choose a different spelling pattern to examine, such as long-vowel combinations, words with affixes, or homonyms.
• Collaborative learning groups create spelling games and activities, such as concentration, crossword puzzles, word search, bingo, and word hunts.
 
Theme units
Literature theme units provide meaningful contexts for examining spelling patterns.

Special words
Have students generate lists of intriguing words found in the literature they read. Each
day a different student explores a special word with the whole class by:
• asking classmates to guess the spelling;
• exploring unique words at a “special word center;”
• creating riddles and crossword puzzles to challenge other classmates. 

Spelling and writing
• Spelling grows developmentally through writing.
• The role of teacher is to ensure each individual’s spelling advances. 

Conferences
• Teachers point out one or two things the student does well, draw attention to correctly spelled words, and point out strategies the student presently use effectively.
• It is important…
 to give student time to use the strategy successfully in their writing before introducing another, and not to overload a student who has many spelling problems.

Matacognitive conferences
To find out students’spelling practices by asking questions:
 Why is spelling important?
 What do you do when you come to a word you don’t know? 

Teacher conference log
• We can get information about the number of words spelled correctly and spelling strategies used effectively.
• The conference log is particularly useful for students as a guide for editing their writing. 

Minilessons

Conducted…
 with the whole class or small groups that require specific spelling instruction;
 to reinforce visual, semantic, and derivational functions.
Focuses on certain words that cause difficulty, such as there, they’re, or their. 

Have-a-try
• Students experiment with several different spellings and choose the spelling that looks right.
• The correct form is then written by the teacher or spelling expert. 

Student learning logs
Students
• record difficult words to spell from their writing pieces.
• discuss with others the problems they have and strategies (word charts, word books, dictionaries) they used to find the correct spelling. 

Editing and proofreading processes
• Students edit what they can or have their pieces edited by a single peer or team of peers.
• With the teacher making the final edit. 
Peer-editing activities strengthen skills in using spelling references. 

Spelling lists and study procedures
• Zutell (1996) indicated practice providing that
 words come from individual student reading and writing materials,
 words or families words are appropriate to students’ developmental levels,
 words are selected by both students and teacher.
• Zutell outlined a student-oriented procedure called Directed Spelling Thinking Activity (DSTA). 

DSTA procedure

1. Word hunting and sorting activities are conducted individually or with partners to find words that are correspond to the patterns discussed in the group.
2. Small group of students share spelling attempts and discuss reasoning for generating their spelling.
3. With teacher’s assistance, students develop personal spelling lists.
4. Finally, they engage in peer testing and record their own growth.


Implications for instruction
• For teachers….
they understand that initial spelling attempts improve with increased language experiences, good modeling, and teacher guidance. 

Questions for discussion
• Do you teach your students how to use strategy in their writing? If you do, how do you teach spelling strategies to your students?
• If your students are not willing to learn how to spell, what would you do?
• If your students have tried hard to learn how to spell but they still cannot spell correctly, what would you do?


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