When I talk to parents about their Spelling You See experiences, sometimes I find they are not having the best one. Careful questioning usually reveals it is often because they have overlooked a simple, but absolutely critical, detail in the process of dictation.
In Spelling You See, the dictation is the opportunity to see how the student has committed to memory the patterns they have spent the week seeking out and copying.
As parents, we often think the goal should be to finish the dictation, but that is actually not true. With Spelling You See, the goal is to copy words out with their correct patterns (e.g. correct spellings). In fact, Dr. Karen Holinga, the author of Spelling You See, says she would rather have a student write one sentence correctly than go through the entire dictation and have errors.
“Why?” you ask. Because memory is strange and it may be that the time your student misspells a word is the very time their memory chooses to commit that errant pattern to memory.
How Dictation Should Happen
Briefly, I’d like to review how dictation is supposed to occur in a Spelling You See experience. First of all, a 10-minute time limit is imperative. Attention span is important in a successful spelling experience, which is why we set that 10-minute limit. Secondly (and this is the most critical detail) you should be dictating one word at a time. You should watch your student write a word and then you should offer them the next word. Why is this so important? If a student makes an error in the writing of the word, this may be the moment his or her brain chooses to remember THAT wrong pattern. The value is to correct that error as it occurs so that it does not accidentally become part of their long-term memory. In fact, it is so important for them to copy out the word correctly, if you see your student becoming anxious, you can show them how the word is spelled and then let them try to reproduce that by copying it down. Remember, in the presence of anxiety, learning ceases.
The Goal of Dictation
The overall goal of the Spelling You See dictation is to spell words correctly. It is not to finish the dictation paragraph. If you have a student who is continually struggling with dictation, we recommend that you take the first sentence of the dictation and work your way through that successfully. Then have your student work their way through that same sentence again. There is far more merit in creating success than in achieving the end of the dictation.
Speaking of success, this is why we ask you to count the words they have spelled correctly – even if you had to assist them. You are building a skill set. It takes time. Encourage them by giving them credit for the words they persevered through.
We at Demme Learning are always ready, willing, and able to answer questions about Spelling You See. If something is not going the way it should, we encourage you to be in touch with us. We want you to have a successful experience. Happy dictating!