Friday, March 5, 2010

Teach: Spelling?

I had a conversation with the Lang. Arts teacher at my school yesterday. She was told by an "educational consultant" that spelling tests don't provide academic rigor (I love that phrase!!!). She was told to not do spelling tests anymore in her middle school classes.

Today, I got tried of the following sentence in my classroom:

"Mr. Knaus, how do you spell..."

These two are incidents are related but not in a way that makes me say spelling tests are essential to great education.

I showed 2 dozen students how to use Google to get the right spelling. We opened up a new tab in the browser, used the Google box to type in how they thought the word was spelled. We had a 90% success rate of spelling correctly enough to have Google give us the "Did you mean..."

The other 10% were able to get there with a bit of help from their tablemates.

Is spelling dead? No. We still need to be able to spell. We need to know some basics. We need to be able to get close. We need to know the rules and conventions to get close, at the very least.

I think that I taught my students a valuable skill today. Something that will last long after my classroom door closes. A skill that I use regularly. A skill that will make their spelling better in the long run.

What do you think about spelling?

2 comments:

SMeech said...

I am under the impression that the only way to really improve spelling is by reading and writing. All of the other strategies have a low return on investment.

Added you to my reader ... thanks for the comments as well!

Knaus said...

Thanks for the comment. I've never really taught spelling. Don't think I will. I tend to agree that reading and writing improve spelling.

On the other hand, there are some general conventions that students must know to be good spellers. I'll have to keep thinking on this one.