Analysis of Spelling Data - A Case Study


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Analysis of handwritten spelling data using the Words Their Way programme.

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Analysis of Spelling Data - A Case Study

  1. 1. SEMESTER  1   2010  EDUC8516                                                                        Literacy  Education  2   Assignment  1     Analysis  of  Spelling  Data  –  A  Case  Study       Due:  Wednesday  August  11th  2010   Sharon  McCleary   19113469       Unit  Co-­ordinator:  Associate  Professor  Val  Faulkner        
  2. 2. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Analysis  of  Spelling  Data  –  A  Case  Study    Introduction  This   analysis   focuses   on   assessment   data   generated   from   a   cross-­‐section   of   students  within   Project   Schools.     The   data   is   in   the   form   of   handwritten   Spelling   Inventory  responses  to  the  Words  Their  Way  Primary  and  Elementary  Spelling  Inventories  (Bear  et  al.,  2008).  A   detailed   analysis   of   the   spelling   features   used   by   each   student   identified   a   wide  range   of   orthographic   knowledge   and   strategy   use   within   the   class.     This   presents   a  challenge   in   planning   for   future   instruction   that   differentiates   between   students   and  systematically   targets   the   critical   features   required   for   each   student’s   progression   to  the  next  stage  along  the  developmental  continuum.    Background  Spelling  is  one  important  aspect  of  literacy  development,  which  uses  phonetic,  visual  and   morphemic   strategies   to   generate   conventionally   accepted   orthography.     It   is   a  complex,   multisensory   process,   fundamentally   linked   to   oral   language,   reading   and  writing.  English  orthography  has  a  complex  history  and  uses  a  26  letter  alphabet  to  represent  44   phonemes   in   144   combinations   (DCSF,   2009).     Oral   language   is   translated   into  written  language  using  the  alphabetic  principle  (letter-­‐sound  relationships),  multiple-­‐letter  patterns  representing  single  sounds,  and  groups  of  letters  representing  meaning.    This  constitutes  the  three  layers  of  English  orthography  (Bear  et  al.,  2008).  Research  into  the  ways  in  which  students  acquire  orthographic  knowledge  emanated  from  a  study  conducted  by  Charles  Read  in  1971.    Error  analysis  conducted  by  other  researchers   (Beers,   Henderson,   Gentry,   Ehri,   Zutell)   revealed   a   clear   developmental  sequence   involving   using   symbols   to   represent   words,   representing   some   sounds   in  words,   representing   all   sounds   in   words,   becoming   aware   of   orthographic   patterns,  Sharon  McCleary   2    
  3. 3. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    applying   syllable   rules,   applying   derivational/meaning   knowledge,   eventually  resulting  in  generally  accurate  spellings  (Young,  2007).    These  developmental  spelling  stages   are   believed   to   result   from   the   different   strategies   used   at   various   stages   of  cognitive  development  (Ellis,  1997).  Findings  from  developmental  stage  theory  research  indicate  that  there  are  identifiable  stages  of  orthographic  awareness  through  which  children  pass  as  they  progress  their  writing,   and   that   they   proceed   through   these   stages   at   varying   rates   (Beers   &   Beers,  1991).     These   stages   provide   the   platforms   for   students   to   deduce   the   underlying  principles   which   form   the   English   orthographic   system.     They   also   reflect   the   three  layers   of   English   orthography,   increasing   in   complexity   as   literacy   growth   and  orthographic   awareness   increase   and   words   are   examined   in   terms   of   alphabet,  pattern  and  meaning.      Investigation   of   each   layer   reveals   recurrent   patterns   and   generalisations   which  provide   a   relatively   high   degree   (over   80%)   of   predictability   in   the   English   spelling  system  (DCFS,  2009).    Implications  for  Teaching    Defining   spelling   as   developmental   implies   a   “series   of   progressive   and   orderly  changes”   (Krause   et   al.,   2010,   pg42)   cumulative   in   nature   and   moving   towards  increased  complexity,  reflecting  brain  development.    Developmental  processes  can  be  uneven,   vary   between   individuals,   and   are   affected   by   cognitive,   physical,   socio-­‐cultural,   emotional   and   environmental   factors.     These   factors   need   to   be   taken   into  consideration  when  determining  class  spelling  groups  and  programmes.  Learning  to  spell  is  a  gradual  process,  involving  trial  and  error,  modelling,  categorising,  hypothesis  testing  and  practise  (Bolton,  1985).  Teachers   should   be   aware   of   the   different   stages   of   spelling   development   and   the  characteristics   of   each   stage.     Knowledge   of   a   student’s   spelling   stage   allows  developmentally   appropriate   strategies   to   be   introduced,   enabling   students   to   take  ownership,   internalise   the   strategies   which   appeal   most   to   their   learning   style   and  independently  use  them  to  successfully  progress  their  spelling.  Sharon  McCleary   3    
  4. 4. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    The  stages  can  be  used  as  diagnostic  tools  and  guidelines  when  analysing  writing  and  deciding   what   to   teach   next.     Analysis   of   spelling   errors   gives   useful   insight   into   the  strategies   and   processes   students   use,   and   indicates   their   approximate   developmental  stage.  However   it   is   important   to   recognise   that   students   may   not   fit   rigidly   into   these   stages  and   may   appear   to   regress   as   they   misapply   generalisations   and   test   hypothesis.     In  this  sense,  teaching  spelling  can  be  likened  to  oral  language  learning,  where  children  gradually   learn   to   talk   by   interaction   within   a   speech   environment;   experimentation  and   approximations   are   accepted   and   encouraged   (Bolton,   1985)   and   contribute   to  further   learning.     Students   eventually   learn   the   correct   conventions   if   they   are  immersed   in   a   print   rich   environment,   provided   with   appropriate   modelling   and  repeated,   authentic   attempts   to   use   words   in   relevant   writing   experiences  (Cambourne,  1984).  In   order   to   cultivate   confident   and   competent   spellers,   the   strategies,   rules   and  conventions  which  underpin  the  English  orthographic  system  must  be  systematically  and  explicitly  taught  (DCFS,  2009)  using  a  variety  of  strategies.    Teachers  need  to  be  aware  of  the  critical  factors  which  enable  students  to  progress  through  each  stage  in  order   to   focus   their   teaching   and   maintain   forward   momentum   and   positive   literacy  growth.  Bear  advocates  word  study  using  active  exploration  of  words  within  a  student’s  stage  of   literacy   development   to   help   categorise   word   patterns   and   build   automaticity.     In  this   way   knowledge   about   the   how   the   spelling   system   works   to   represent   sound,  pattern   and   meaning   is   developed   and   can   be   used   effectively   to   generate   strategies  for  determining  the  spelling  of  unknown  words.  Studies  show  that  exposing  2nd  and  5th  grade  students  to  spellings  of  new  vocabulary  enhances   their   memory   for   pronunciation   and   meaning,   with   students   having   better  developed   orthographic   knowledge   benefiting   more   than   those   with   weaker  knowledge  (Ehri  &  Rosenthal,  2007).    Spellings  clearly  identify  the  different  phonemes  in   words,   become   bonded   to   pronunciations   in   memory   and   provide   a   stronger   base  for   learning   meaning.     Emphasising   the   grapho-­‐phonemic   aspects   of   words   can   be   a  useful  method  of  accelerating  vocabulary  learning.  Sharon  McCleary   4    
  5. 5. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Ongoing,  frequent  spelling  assessment  is  required,  due  to  its  developmental  nature,  in  order  to  ascertain  which  key  features  of  a  stage  have  been  mastered,  and  programme  future   instruction   within   the   student’s   Zone   of   Proximal   Development   (Vygotsky,  1962).  The  major  purpose  of  spelling  is  to  facilitate  fluent  writing  which  accurately  conveys  the   author’s   intended   meaning   (Fryar,   1997).     However,   research   on   word   study  (Williams,  2006)  identified  that  the  conceptual  knowledge  of  orthography  acquired  is  not   automatically   applied   in   journal   writing.     Although   there   were   limiting   factors   in  this   study   (not   covered   in   this   case   study),   it   raised   a   valid   implication:   some   students  require   explicit   teaching/demonstrations   to   apply   word   study   knowledge   when  composing  extended  text.  In   addition,   word   study   should   be   extended   to   written   sorts,   given   that   several  empirical   studies   have   supported   the   notion   that   movements   made   when   writing  sequences   of   letters   provide   additional   associative   links   between   spelling   and   sound    (Shahar-­‐Yames  &  Share,  2008).      Spelling   has   a   reciprocal   relationship   with   reading:   it   enables   faster   decoding   of   visual  patterns  in  the  text  and  confident  spellers  are  able  to  devote  more  cognitive  capacity  to   higher   level   thinking   and   meaning   making,   while   reading   provides   examples   of  correct  spelling  in  context  and  introduces  additional  vocabulary  for  word  study.      It   is   therefore   essential   that   spelling   be   taught   and   assessed   as   an   integral   part   of  authentic   writing,   and   that   the   links   between   spelling,   reading   and   writing   are   made  explicit.  Sharon  McCleary   5    
  6. 6. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Analysis  of  Assessment  Data:  The   assessment   data   consists   of   spelling   inventory   responses   for   ten   Year   3/4  students,  included  in  Appendix  A.    The  Primary  Spelling  Inventory  was  used  for  Year  3  students  and  the  Elementary  Spelling  Inventory  for  Year  4  students  (Bear  et  al.,  2008).    The  corresponding  spelling  stages  will  be  used  for  the  purposes  of  this  case  study.  Analysis   of   the   responses   for   each   student   using   the   relevant   Words   Their   Way  Spelling   Inventory   Feature   Guide   (Bear   et   al.,   2008)   is   included   in   Appendix   B.     The  Feature  Guide  clearly  identifies  the  spelling  features  each  student  has  mastered,  those  which  they  use  but  confuse  and  those  which  are  absent.  The   Developmental   Stage   for   each   student   is   allocated   according   to   the   points   total   for  each   spelling   feature.     Two   or   more   errors   for   a   particular   feature   indicate   the   student  is   in   the   stage   listed   directly   above   the   spelling   feature.     The   scoring   summary  indicates  the  number  of  words  spelled  correctly  (Power  Score).  The  feature  points  for  each  student  have  been  transferred  to  the  Class  Composite  for  each   inventory,   included   in   Appendix   C.     The   number   of   students   in   the   class  demonstrating   difficulty   with   specific   spelling   features   is   summarised   at   the   base   of  each   column.     The   students   are   listed   in   descending   order,   with   students   displaying  similar  spelling  characteristics  identified  by  clusters  of  highlighted  cells.    In  this  way,  students   can   be   grouped   according   to   similar   developmental   characteristics,   for   ease  of  instruction.  Two   different   inventories   have   been   used   in   this   class,   resulting   in   two   Class  Composites.     Therefore   the   Spelling-­‐by-­‐Stage   Classroom   Organisation   Chart   (Bear   et  al.,   2008),   included   in   Appendix   D,   has   been   generated   to   show   each   student’s  placement  within  the  spelling  stage  graduations.    The  Power  Score  is  also  included  and  is   useful   for   cross-­‐checking   students’   developmental   stages   as   outlined   by   Table   2.2  (Bear  et  al.,  2008,  pg  34),  included  in  Appendix  D.  In   addition   to   the   Features   Analysis,   a   class   composite   error   list   was   compiled   to  facilitate  identification  of  patterns  of  errors  within  the  class  (Appendix  E).  Sharon  McCleary   6    
  7. 7. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Findings:  The   data   provided   a   diagnostic   assessment   specifically   aimed   at   determining   which  spelling   features   students   know.     It   is   a   representative   sample   of   the   students’   work  and   would   ordinarily   be   used   in   conjunction   with   reading   and   writing   assessments,  which  have  not  been  provided  in  this  case.  Analysis  of  the  assessment  data  indicates  three  developmental  stages  exist  within  the  class  (Appendix  D).    Although  feature  points  indicate  students  are  in  a  particular  stage,  on   closer   analysis   of   their   work,   spelling   features   from   earlier   stages   are   often   in   need  of  consolidation.  The   instructional   level   relevant   to   the   majority   of   the   class   is   Within   Word   Pattern-­‐Middle  (WWP-­‐M),  focusing  on  long  vowels  and  other  vowel  patterns.  Several   students,   particularly   younger   and   ESL   students   are   still   within   the   Letter  Name-­‐Alphabetic  stage  and  require  additional  assistance  to  progress  to  the  next  stage.    Student  Case  Summaries:  Letter  Name  Alphabetic  Stage  Group:  The   Letter   Name-­‐Alphabetic   (LNA)   group   includes   Alice,   Craig,   Hannah   and   Suhina.    Although   Suhina’s   feature   points   indicate   she   is   WWP-­‐Middle,   she   displays   several  characteristics  from  the  LNA-­‐Late,  such  as  substitution  of  short  vowels  for  ambiguous  vowels   e.g.   DREAM   (DREM)   and   omission   of   preconsonantal   nasals,   and   is   likely   to  benefit  from  revision  of  short  vowels.  In   Alice’s   case,   she   is   a   Year   3   ESL   student   who   demonstrates   mastery   of   spelling  characteristics   from   the   Emergent   Stage,   such   as   beginning   and   end   consonants,   but  appears   to   have   difficulty   with   short   vowels   and   blends.     She   attempts   to   spell   short  vowels  using  the  letter  name  closest  in  articulation  to  that  short  vowel  (ie  DIG  (DEG)  the  short  i  sound  is  closer  in  place  of  articulation  to  the  letter  name  for  e  than  the  letter  name  for  i).  Confusion  in  the  use  of  affricate  blends  such  as  tr,  is  also  apparent  TRIES  (CHRAS).    These  characteristics  place  her  between  the  LNA-­‐Middle  and  Late  stages.  Sharon  McCleary   7    
  8. 8. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Consideration  should  be  given  to  ESL  students,  who  typically  use  phonemic  analysis  of  words   to   construct   spellings   but   often   omit   or   confuse   vowel   sounds   which   are   not  present  in  their  native  language.    Similarly,  since  oral  and  written  language  skills  are  developing   concurrently,   exposure   to   words   may   be   limited.     Pronunciation   also  affects  spelling,  and  may  be  a  factor  in  causing  errors  (Bolton,  1985).  Hannah   is   another   Year   3   ESL   student   displaying   omission   of   silent   letters   e.g.   FRIGHT  (FRAT)  and  substitution  of  short  vowels  for  ambiguous  vowels.    She  misuses  “er”  at  the  end   of   several   words   i.e.   THORN   (THONER),   which   may   be   an   error   related   to  pronunciation   or   the   transference   of   orthographic   knowledge   from   her   primary  language  (Bear,  2008).  Craig   is   an   aboriginal   student   who   requires   focus   on   short   vowels,   digraphs   and  blends.    Within  Word  Pattern-­Middle  Group:  The  Within  Word  Pattern-­‐Middle  group  includes  Byron,  Lexis,  Min-­‐Ji  and  Anna.  Byron   is   a   Year   3   student   who   displays   confident   use   of   spelling   features   in   the   LNA  stage.     A   feature   score   of   5/7   for   Long   Vowels   indicates   he   is   in   the   Within   Word  Pattern  (WWP)–Middle  stage.    However,   careful   analysis   of   Byron’s   responses   indicates   that   he   uses   but   confuses   the  silent  letters  in  long  vowel  patterns.    For  example,  he  crossed  out  the  silent  e  in  sled(e)  and  used  a  silent   e  in  THORNE.    He  also  confuses  ck  and  ke  endings,  as  is  evident  in  his  spelling   of   STICK   (STIKE)   and   displays   a   tendency   to   substitute   short   vowels   for  ambiguous   vowels,   such   as   SHOUTED   (SHATED)   and   GROWL   (GRALE).     These  characteristics  are  typical  of  what  students  use  but  confuse  in  the  WWP-­‐Early  stage.  In   addition,   he   still   demonstrates   some   confusion   with   common   long   vowel   patterns  (CVCe,   CVVC)   such   as   WAIT   (WAETE)   as   do   Lexis,   Min-­‐Ji   and   Anna.     These   spelling  behaviours   indicate   that   the   group   has   not   quite   mastered   the   WWP-­‐Early   stage   and  would  benefit  from  further  instruction  to  consolidate  these  spelling  features.  Sharon  McCleary   8    
  9. 9. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Several  of  the  students  in  this  group  (Byron,  Lexis,  Anna)  display  knowledge  of  some  long  vowel  patterns.    Within  Word  Pattern-­Late:  The   students   in   this   group,   Kate   and   James   display   sound   knowledge   of   short   vowel  patterns,  digraphs  and  blends,  and  long  vowel  patterns.  It  is  clear  they  can  think  about  sound  and  pattern  simultaneously.  Their   feature   scores   of   5/7   for   ambiguous   vowels   result   from   incorrect   words   being  written.     Kate   wrote   CHEWED   as   CHOOSE,   and   James   wrote   SERVING   as   SURFING).    This  may  be  due  to  aural  issues,  meaning  in  context  issues  or  spelling  issues;  without  knowing  the  conditions  of  administering  the  inventory  it  cannot  be  determined  if  the  feature  score  actually  reflects  their  knowledge  of  these  spelling  features.  It  is  worth  noting  that  these  students  display  reliable  knowledge  of  ambiguous  vowels,  inflected   endings   and   syllable   junctures,   and   could   potentially   be   operating   in   the  Middle-­‐Late  Syllables  and  Affixes  stage.    Kate  correctly  changed  the  y  to  i  in  CARRIES,  which   is   normally   absent   in   the   WWP-­‐Late   stage.       This   also   illustrates   the   fact   that  students   are   likely   to   move   outside   the   identified   developmental   sequence   according  to  interests  and  experiences  (Fryar,  1997).  However,   both   students   use   but   confuse   r-­‐influenced   vowels   and   complex   consonant  units,  which  is  typical  of  WWP-­‐Late  spellers,  and  are  likely  to  benefit  from  instruction  in  this  area.  Sharon  McCleary   9    
  10. 10. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Planning  for  Instruction:  The  National  Strategies    (DCSF,  2009)  list  the  main  components  of  a  balanced  spelling  programme,   including   understanding   the   principles   underlying   word   construction  (phonemic,   morphemic   and   etymological),   knowing   how   to   apply   these   and   other  strategies   to   spelling,   practising,   and   building   student’s   self-­‐images   as   competent  spellers.     An   additional   consideration   is   “keeping   the   main   thing   the   main   thing”  (Duffy,   2009),   and   integrating   the   spelling   and   assessment   programme   with   the  reading  and  writing  programme.  Instruction  must  be  systematic  and  explicit,  encourage  risk  taking,  generate  an  interest  in   and   love   of   words,   and   provide   students   with   more   than   one   strategy   (word  structure,   visual   and   phonological   memory,   meaning,   mnemonics,   syllabification,  analogy   and   kinaesthetic)   in   order   to   appeal   to   different   learning   styles   and  preferences  and  allow  adequate  internalisation.    It  must  also  enable  multiple  authentic  opportunities  for  practise  and  consolidation  of  skills.  It   must   teach   students   to   develop   understanding   about   the   way   words   in   English  orthography   work,   allow   them   to   investigate   general   principles   of   spelling   and  explicitly  model  how  they  can  apply  them  in  their  reading  and  writing.  Furthermore,  it  must  be  pitched  at  the  correct  developmental  level  to  be  meaningful  to  each   student.     There   is   a   wide   range   of   orthographic   knowledge   within   the   class,  however   planning   for   differentiated   future   teaching   is   facilitated   by   the   individual  spelling  groups.  Instruction  begins  at  the  boundary  of  what  students  use  correctly  and  what  they  use  and   confuse,   so   that   new   knowledge   can   be   linked   with   prior   knowledge   to   build   a  strong  foundation,  integrate  success  and  enjoyment  into  the  programme  and  gradually  develop   confident,   independent   spellers.     The   strategies   and   activities   used   will   vary  according  to  student  developmental  level.  Sample  plans  for  each  group  are  included  in  Appendix  F.      Sharon  McCleary   10    
  11. 11. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Conclusion  Learning  to  spell  involves  more  than  rote  memorisation;  it  is  a  complex  developmental  process   which   requires   understanding   about   how   the   language   has   evolved,   active  investigation,   identification   and   classification   of   recurring   patterns   within   words,  problem  solving,  hypothesis  creation,  testing  and  practise.      It   includes   the   use   of   various   integrated   strategies:   phonetic,   kinaesthetic,   visual   and  morphemic,   and   by   the   sheer   enormity   and   dynamic   vocabulary   of   the   English  language,   implies   an   ability   to   examine   words   in   context,   apply   appropriate  generalisations  and  use  known  resources  to  determine  the  correct  spelling.  Diagnostic   assessment   is   useful   in   identifying   students’   developmental   spelling   stage  in   order   to   tailor   instruction   to   their   individual   needs.     Their   developmental   stage  should  be  considered  in  conjunction  with  their  reading  and  writing  stage  and  regularly  assessed  to  determine  relevant  changes.  The  spelling  program  should  provide  repeated  opportunities  for  students  to  discover  and   apply   the   orthographic   principles   and   strategies   of   English   and   to   solve   spelling  problems   within   the   context   of   authentic   reading   and   writing   in   order   to   build  confident,  competent  and  independent  spellers.      Sharon  McCleary   11    
  12. 12. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    ReferencesBean, W. & Bouffler, C., (1997), Spelling: An Integrated Approach, Eleanor Curtain Publishing, Armadale, Victoria.Bear, D., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S. & Johnston, F., (2008), Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction, Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey.Bickmore-Brand, J. (1996), Literacy and Learning Strategies – Stepping Out, Education Department of Western Australia, Perth, WA.Bolton, F. & Snowball, D., (1985), Springboards: Ideas for Spelling, Thomas Nelson Australia, Melbourne.Department for Children, Schools and Families, (2009), The National Strategies, Primary, Department for Children, Schools and Families, UK.Duffy, G., (2009), Explaining Reading: A Resource for Teaching Concepts, Skills, And Strategies, The Guildford Press, New York.Ehri, L. & Rosenthal, J., (2007), Spelling of Words: A Neglected Facilitator of Vocabulary Learning, Journal of Literacy Research, Vol. 39, pp 389-409.Fryar, R. (1997), Spelling: from beginnings to independence, Department for education and Childrenʼs Services, SA.Hill, S., (2006), Developing Early Literacy: Assessment and teaching, Eleanor Curtain Publishing, Prahran, Victoria.Hudson, C. & OʼToole, M. (1990), Spelling: A Teacherʼs Guide, revised edition, Landmark Educational Supplies Pty. Ltd, Drouin, Victoria.Kiddey, P. & Waring, F. (2001), Success for All: Selecting Appropriate Learning Strategies, Stepping Out Curriculum Corporation, WA.Krause, K., Bochner, S., Duchesne, S. & McMaugh, A. (2010) Educational Psychology for Learning and Teaching, 3d edition, Cengage Learning Australia, pp 262-287.Sharon  McCleary   12    
  13. 13. Literacy  Education  2     EDUC8516    Rees, D., (2002), First Steps Spelling Resource Book, Education Department, WA.Shahar-Yames, D. & Share, D., (2008), Spelling as a Self-Teaching Mechanism in Orthographic Learning, Journal of Research in Reading, Vol. 31 Issue 1, pp 22-39.Williams, C. & Phillips-Birdsong, C., (2006), Word Study Instruction and Second- Grade Childrenʼs Independent Writing, Journal of Literacy Research, Vol. 38 No.4, pp 427-465.Young, K., (2007), Developmental Stage Theory of Spelling: Analysis of Consistency Across Four Spelling Related Activities, Australian journal of Language and Literacy, Vol. 30 No.3, pp 203-220.Sharon  McCleary   13