4 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating Spelling Work

Do you have struggling readers in your class?  Ones that have either already been classified, or flagged as needing extra support?  How does spelling typically go for them?

I am currently taking an Orton-Gillingham-based training program.  Last week, we got to talking about spelling.  Let's be real for a sec...

Spelling is not exactly the most exciting of tasks to teach.  It becomes even more daunting if you have struggling readers and spellers.

And we teachers, in all our creative effort, do anything we can to make "word work" more exciting for the kiddos, right?

Wait!  Before we go about making those cute little activities for centers or homework, we have to ensure we're not making these very common mistakes!

1. Using cutesy fonts - Dare I say it?  Trust me, I am a visual person.  I love a good font as much as the next elementary teacher.  However, please keep in mind that there is a time and place for beautifully scripted or cute fonts.

Students who have dyslexia or a language disability, are struggling with decoding our language.  They are desperately trying to put sounds to symbols.  They do not need three extra curls or dots added to their "a".  Just stick to the basics.

2. Identify the word that is spelled correctly - Oh goodness.  Just don't do it. Struggling spellers, especially at the upper elementary level do not need this type of confusion.  Eliminate the number of opportunities they are exposed to misspelled words...this does nothing for their learning.

3. Write a poem using your spelling words - You give students a list of words that have nothing in common other than their matching spelling patterns.  Then, they are asked to create a poem using these words (that have no contextual connection to one another).

In trying to make spelling "creative" and "fun", you just created a nightmare for your students with language disabilities.

4. Rhyming Words - When used correctly, rhyming words can be helpful for teaching spelling patterns.  However, PLEASE, if you are providing examples of rhyming words, make sure they actually rhyme.

This may sound silly, but I have seen these types of errors in published books.  Matching spelling patterns do not always create rhyming words.   For example, good and food do not rhyme.

So, you creative teacher, you.  The next time you're sitting down to make your word work centers, be sure to keep struggling readers and spellers in mind.  Make sure you are providing opportunities for success...not failure.

Happy spelling, teacher friend!

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