Friday, September 14, 2012

Word Wall # 2

Gone are the days when kids “memorize” words for Friday spelling tests holding the words in short term memory, only to dump them after the test. Rather, students must develop strategies to transfer their spelling rules. The idea is not to overwhelm our kiddos but to get them to identify patterns in words to help them spell similar words. During our second year of teaching we had the privilege of observing an outstanding second grade teacher at a nearby school who was working on creating a spelling unit during her master’s program. We immediately loved the idea of scrapping the traditional spelling tests and adopted these new tests.  Although we don’t use them currently due to our new phonics program Fundations, we still thought we’d share these great assessments with you which completely changed our outlook on spelling.  Each test consisted of three sections: 1) Dictation, 2) Editing, and 3) Identifying.  Below you will find an example.


We were still able to use words similar to our weekly basal rules, we just varied the format. Dictation is exactly what it sounds like (the teacher states 4 words). 
Editing is where students must identify misspelled words in sentences and rewrite them correctly. This helps kiddos during writer’s workshop as well! It really helps them recognize misspellings immediately.
Identifying is where students have to choose the correct word from 3 different choices that look similar. The idea is not to trick kids but to help them to use their decoding strategies.
In addition to the regular test, we created a challenge word section where students are to use the rule for the week to spell more difficult words. This is where the word wall really comes in to play. During this time, students can ask us questions about each word in relation to the word wall words such as “Does it have the ing suffix like the word clapping?” or “Does it have the same prefix as the word predict?” They can ask us any questions as well as long as it relates to a word wall word. We never considered this “cheating” like our students claimed.  Instead we referred to this part of the test as using their resources!


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