The science of spelling


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This is a synopsis of Richard Gentry's book on spelling.

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The science of spelling

  1. 1. The Science of Spelling<br />The Explicit Specifics that Make Great Readers and Writers (and Spellers)<br />J. Richard Gentry, 2004<br />Chapter Highlights (composed by Andrea Hnatiuk)<br />Chapter 1<br />Discovery #1: There Is a Neurological Basis for Spelling (pages 1-12)<br />Implications: Gentry identifies the implications of the neurological base for spelling that are summarized in 3 key points:<br /><ul><li>Put spelling on a pedestal.
  2. 2. Children learn to read by spelling and the alphabetic principle of reading can be taught through appropriate spelling instruction.
  3. 3. When we teach what beginning readers need to know – alphabet sounds, letter knowledge, concepts of what a word is, phonemic awareness an alphabetic principle, spelling patterns, mapping spoken language to its written form and phonics – we are teaching the underlying knowledge necessary for reading and writing. (p. 11)
  4. 4. Teach spelling explicitly.
  5. 5. What we know about how to teach spelling has changed.
  6. 6. Change your attitudes about teaching spelling and about spelling’s importance for literacy.
  7. 7. Challenge your current theories on the teaching spelling.</li></ul>Chapter 2<br />Discovery #2: the Emergence of Spelling Ability and Ability to Spell Words Correctly and Automatically are Different (pages 13 – 23)<br />Implications for the emergent phase of spelling/reading/writing:<br /><ul><li> Children in Kindergarten and grade 1 should write frequently and invent spelling. Writing helps kids develop underlying knowledge sources for reading (sounds, letters, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and eventually phonetic patterns.
  8. 8. Four stages of spelling are in Kindergarten and Grade 1 are identifiable developmental levels. Use informal assessments (such as the Monster test) to track development.
  9. 9. Differentiate instruction during Phase 1based on levels of writing. Spelling instruction needs to be matched to the developmental phase of the child to assist them in moving to the next level as a writer. Differentiated instruction is also to the key to successful literacy teaching.
  10. 10. Early intervention should be provided to children in Phase 1who are not meeting expected levels of writing achievement. Strategic teaching is necessary to move students along. Monitor informally the automaticity of some spelling words. Personal writing journals are suggested that include “Words I Can Spell” from their own writing. Conduct informal spelling checks of high frequency words and patterns. Teach a core of first grade words and phonics patterns.</li></ul>For those students in Phase II:<br /><ul><li>Provide explicit spelling instruction. Assess grade 2-8 spellers to determine if their word –specific knowledge meets expectations for their core of high frequency words. Teach word patterns students do not know.
  11. 11. For the detailed charts on research specific phases, please refer to the Phases document. </li></ul>Chapter 3<br />Discovery #3: You Can Recognize Five Levels of Emergent Writing, Match your Teaching strategies to the Child’s Level, and Greatly Improve the Quality of your Literacy Instruction<br />Implications:<br /><ul><li>Gentry has identifies five levels of emergent writing (page 26 – 28). This scales helps to track students development and the changing alphabetic conceptualization. These benchmarks assist teachers to measure individual growth.
  12. 12. Use research based techniques to move students to the next level.
  13. 13. Teach in the Zone of Proximal development As identified, there is a tie between the child’s development and the best instruction for that level of development. (Vygotski, 1978).
  14. 14. Create a writing block – This block includes whole class mini-lessons, independent writing, and time for sharing. (Teaching block , 15 min., Writing block, 20-25 min., Sharing block, 5-10 min.) (Juel, 1994; Snow, Burns, and Griffin 1998).
  15. 15. Use of scaffolded writing - Scaffolding provides necessary supports for the learner to move to the next level (Bodrova and Leong, 1976, Vgotski, 1987).
  16. 16. Materialization – Use of tangible or material objects (hand spelling, letter boxes, finger spelling) (Bodrova and Leong , 1998; Galperin, 1969).
  17. 17. Adult Underwriting – The teacher models after the student has used few words of phrases to label a picture (3-5 words on a page), praising the child’s ‘kid’ writing and pointing out adult features in their writing. This is for low level writers, 0-2. (Feldgus and Cardonick, 1999).
  18. 18. Story Framing – i.e.: First, Then, Next, Last
  19. 19. Recognize when you are teaching writing at these levels, you are also teaching reading. Schedule plenty of time for writing.
  20. 20. Increasing the volume of writing will enhance your students growth in literacy.</li></ul>Chapter 4<br />Discovery #4: You Need Good Quality Instructional Resources for Teaching Spelling – the Goodness and Evils of Spelling Books and Alternative Approaches (pages 40 – 54)<br />There are five guidelines for teaching word specific knowledge successfully:<br /><ul><li>Follow a curriculum.
  21. 21. Curriculums provide continuity and consistency.
  22. 22. Use research based techniques.
  23. 23. Teachers need to employ research based strategies and techniques.
  24. 24. Focus on the right words and patterns at the right time.
  25. 25. The type and timing of spelling instruction is important.
  26. 26. Differentiate instruction.
  27. 27. All children are not at the same place at the same time. Teachers must match students to words and patterns and select appropriate methods and materials to meet the students’ needs.
  28. 28. Connect spelling and word study to reading and writing.
  29. 29. Spelling needs ample time and opportunities to connect the development of word specific knowledge to authentic reading and writing. </li></ul>Gentry identifies seven methods for teaching spelling (2004, p. 44) :<br /><ul><li>Non-differential explicit word study anchored in word lists
  30. 30. Differential, explicit instruction anchored in word lists
  31. 31. Explicit study of common word patterns
  32. 32. Incidental learning of spelling by reading
  33. 33. Focusing on writing and teaching spelling in use
  34. 34. Fad programs
  35. 35. “Teacher choice”
  36. 36. These seven methods are not equally effective – each has strengths and liabilities.
  37. 37. Strengths and Liabilities of Spelling Books
  38. 38. (Gentry, 2004, pgs. 44 – 52)
  39. 39. StrengthLiabilityProvide teachers with resources and guides them with weekly words to study.Systematically organized to make teaching spelling easy.A good spelling book provides the right words at the right time, units of study across grades, a developmental sequence, resources for teaching important spelling patterns or principles, and exercises for consolidating spelling skills.It might guide the teacher to use research based techniques and be partially helpful to teaches if they do not know how to teach spelling.Well designed spelling books might help to differentiate instruction and provide strategies for connecting spelling and word study to reading and writing.CostAssumptions regarding that spelling acquired from spelling books will transfer to more complex reading and writing tasks.They are not teacher proof.“Dizziness” of variety over what teachers have to choose from.Unevenness in the following: comprehensiveness, research based, and scope.Not necessarily individualized.Teachers may not be using research based instruction.Just because publisher produce a spelling program with your reading program, does not mean the spelling program is the best choice. Spelling books do not tend to focus on word-specific knowledge, explicit teaching of words, explicit teaching of spelling patterns, connecting spelling to reading and writing.</li></ul>Implications :<br /><ul><li>Research supports methods for teaching spelling explicitly.
  40. 40. Teachers need alternate methods and quality instructional resources fro teaching spelling.
  41. 41. Not all methods and material are equally effective.</li></ul>Chapter 5<br />Discovery #5: There is One Best Way to Teach Spelling – Assess and Teach Each Individual – Hooray for Spelling Books! (pages 55 – 76)<br />Six research based techniques to use with weekly word lists:<br /><ul><li>Careful word selection
  42. 42. Match the right words with each child
  43. 43. Using a pre-test and post-test format
  44. 44. Pre-tests are an effective way to individualize spelling.
  45. 45. Word lists and test –study-test should be used only because the yare efficient and leave more time for other areas of literacy
  46. 46. Using a self correction technique
  47. 47. Research shows that students learn more from correcting their own spelling work
  48. 48. Teaching children how to study unknown words
  49. 49. Research by Horn (1954) and Allal (1997) identified a systematic technique for learning the correct spelling of words by using a combination of visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, and tactile procedures.
  50. 50. Pronounce each word carefully
  51. 51. Look at each part of the word as you pronounce it
  52. 52. Say the letters in sequence
  53. 53. Attempt to recall how the word looks, then spell the word
  54. 54. Check this attempt to recall
  55. 55. Write the word
  56. 56. Check this spelling attempt
  57. 57. Repeat the above steps if necessary
  58. 58. Spelling games and board games
  59. 59. Spelling games can supplement spelling instruction and is aligned with cooperative learning theory.
  60. 60. Word sorting
  61. 61. This is an instructional technique based on the systematic study of spelling patterns (based on research by Ed Henderson, 2000) and brain research</li></ul>Gentry’s Instructional Framework for Teaching Spelling<br /><ul><li>Is a comprehensive framework for spelling instruction in Phase II (children learning new entries into their brains, new spelling patterns and strategies, new vocabulary word with familiar spelling patterns
  62. 62. It is explicit study of words in list form.
  63. 63. It is explicit study of regular patterns
  64. 64. Focused on effective strategies and teachers a few rules
  65. 65. Connects content area to spelling
  66. 66. Connects spelling to writing
  67. 67. The framework is writing based and is individualized.</li></ul>Spelling Framework’s Five Steps:<br />1 . Assessment<br />2. Ownership/Responsibility<br />3. Relevance<br />4. Teaching<br />5. Competency/Accountability/Accomplishment/Contextual Authenticity<br />Five Day Routine<br />The Day 1 Routine: Ten word pretest and self correction check<br />The Day 2 Routine: Making the individualist of ten words<br />Days 3 & 4 Routine: Word study days<br />The Day 5 Routine: The partner test<br />Chapter 7<br />Discovery #7: A Good Spelling Curriculum Makes It Easier to Know your Students<br /><ul><li>A good spelling curriculum is organized and consistent and will allow the learner to master the basic principle of spelling.
  68. 68. Good spelling instruction begins with knowing the learner and matching instruction to their needs.
  69. 69. Word sorting focuses student attention on the pattern structure of the English language.