Why & How I Did Away With Spelling Lists

Current research shows that spelling lists do not help our students to really learn spelling.  If you are a "seasoned" teacher like me, that probably leaves you asking the, "Then what do I do?" question.  I had this same predicament not too long ago and I set out on a mission to find an answer...and I did!

Why Ditch the Spelling List

So let's talk about the why's.  There are three big ones that cover most of it...

  1. I was told to.  Let's be real, this was the biggest thing in front of me.  I had curriculum people and administrators showing us valuable data that they were not working.  They also showed us research, so naturally, I knew I needed to find a solution that worked for my kids and classroom.
  2. It wasn't transferring.  I did not see my students using what we learned for spelling in their writing and it wasn't really showing up much in their reading. A strong spelling program should yield more than good test grades on a spelling quiz each week.
  3. My kids hated spelling.  My students didn't see much value in spelling.  The activities I had, though some of them they liked, were for the most part not engaging enough to solitify the learning.  They learned the words for the moment, but they didn't stick and it wasn't meaningful. 

How I Did It

 Once I figured all of this out, I had to come up a how.  Which is of course the tricky part.  I needed something that...
  1. Didn't use a list, but rather focused on a phonics skill
  2. Engaging
  3. Interactive
  4. QUICK!  Let's be real, time in upper elementary ELAR classrooms is at a PREMIUM!
  5. Had components that could push into stations
  6. Ideally used a gradual release model
  7. Used some technology, but not too much, because my classroom still isn't one-to-one
  8. Student transference would happen and I would see growth in their reading & writing.
 These were the main things at the front of my brain as I sat to plan something. So I did just that. I planned and tried different things over a couple of weeks until I found a sweet spot!  It was as if the angels came from the heavens and sang!  Light shone on my students and they themselves were like my little cherub sponges absorbing what I'd just facilitated...at that moment Spelling Unboxed was born!

What It Looks Like

 So what is it exactly?

It is a curriculum that works in units and incorporates all 8 things listed above.

I started by taking the skill I needed, researching the rules for it (if I didn't know them - man all that phonics I taught in K-2 really came in handy!)  I searched for 40 + words that I could use with the skill to teach in different ways to my students.  I then took those words and planned them out using a daily sequence that involved a gradual release model.
The sequence works like this:

Day 1 - Whole group skill lesson using technology in interactive ways
Day 2 - Group interactive notebook/personal anchor chart
             made together (or finished alone depending on the group)
Day 3 - Partner or Small group games (can be played whole group or in stations)
Day 4 - Task Cards to practice skill (remediate as necessary)
Day 5 - Short quiz to assess learning

The awesome thing is, very few if any, words repeat.  Students truly learn the skill!  My students began noticing patterns in our books, in our writing.  And even more, their scores went up on district assessments and they retained the information.  Even my strugglers found success and it showed so much in their reading too!

So can you change?  YES!!! If I can, anyone can! If you would like to learn more, you can get your very own unit totally FREE, by signing up below.

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