Did you know that Spelling You See’s techniques can be used to learn vocabulary in other subjects?
It’s time to begin a new chapter in science. Your student turns to the first page, and there, in the margin, is a list of words that the student is expected to learn. What do you do to make sure this task is accomplished? Do you have the student simply write the terms and look up the definitions? Do you have him make flashcards? Some creative adults may make or find a crossword puzzle or worksheet to assign. Most likely, though, you have not thought about using Spelling You See techniques in your instruction. The three core activities of Spelling You See can help a student learn not only the meaning of a word but also its spelling – all in a way that is fun and meaningful.
The success of the Spelling You See program is based on three core strategies: copywork, “chunking”, and dictation. Most people are familiar with copywork (the physical action of copying a printed selection by hand) and dictation (writing words as they are pronounced orally). When combined with chunking, a unique color-coding system to mark different “chunks”, or letter combinations, the correct spellings of words become imprinted on the visual memory. Eventually, students remember the spelling of words such as wreath by mentally picturing the word with the blue consonant chunk wr, followed by the yellow vowel chunk ea and another blue consonant chunk, th. Combining the three core activities of the Spelling You See program has helped many students learn to spell many commonly used words correctly.
A side benefit of using Spelling You See, however, is that often students also learn the meanings of previously unknown words in a wide variety of subject areas. For example, students who work through Ancient Achievements learn about cuneiform, democracy, taro, minstrels, quipus, and leeches and are often able to spell these words correctly. Why not, then, use Spelling You See techniques to learn both the meaning and spelling of vocabulary words found in other subject areas?
Consider the following list of words found in a fourth grade science program:
As an experiment, close your eyes and ask someone to dictate these words for you to spell. When you heard the word accelerate, did you wonder, “Is it two Cs or two Ls?’ For the word reference, did you miss the second E or wonder if there were two Rs? Did you remember the second L in satellite? If you were taught spelling using phonics rules, you might find yourself trying to decide if the ending of resistor is er or or (not to mention the possibilities of ir or ur that an inexperienced speller might consider).
Now consider how applying the Spelling You See core activities would help the student remember the correct spelling as he learns the meaning of a new word. The first step would be to find a short, easy-to-read passage where the word is used in context, perhaps from the student’s textbook or a library book. (An alternative would be to write one yourself or have your student write one.) For example, here is an engaging paragraph the Science Alert website using the word asteroid:
It’s time to get to know a new friend: asteroid 2015 TB145, a sizeable chunk of rock that’s hurtling through space at speeds of over 126,000 km/h (78,293 mph) right now. Discovered just 10 days ago, the asteroid has caught the attention of scientists at NASA because on October 31, it’s expected to draw closer to Earth than anything this size has since July 2006.
The student can copy this passage directly from the computer or book. In this example, the student will not only have the opportunity to write the word asteroid twice but will also be able to practice with other potentially challenging words, such as sizeable and hurtling. Then the student can chunk his work, in this case, marking the “bossy r” chunk er and the vowel chunk oi in the word asteroid. Now he has worked with the word in its entirety and has also analyzed its structure. The final step, dictating the passage to the student, gives him the opportunity to compile his experiences with the word to write it correctly. If you combine the core spelling activities with discussions of the meaning of the word asteroid, you will have created a much richer learning experience than simply writing the word and memorizing its definition.
If you have not already done so, try having your student apply the three Spelling You See core activities to words in other subject areas. Your student will realize the double benefit of expanding his vocabulary while developing his skill in spelling at the same time.