Writing Wednesday

Today's post is going to cover how I solve the "How do you spell.....?" question in my classroom. If you are the go-to source for correct spelling in your classroom you're working too hard! Here are my go-to sources for spelling:

Thematic Word Wall: Most of the year our writing is based around themes. Sometimes these are holidays, but mostly just different area of study like Ocean, Zoo, Farm or Arctic, to name a few. For each of these themes I create a mini word wall from a poster board. I made a lot of these during my first year of teaching and I used the word wall cards from Kids Soup. Nowadays I create my own for any new themes I come up with using clipart or photos depending on the theme. A lot of times I find that photos are more helpful as they allow my kiddos to form a realistic idea of the word's meaning. These word walls are incredibly handy for teaching vocabulary - especially for ELL kiddos who can identify needed words easier when there is a picture clue. In addition though, they are a great spelling resource for our thematic writing. I usually keep the theme we're using up on our main whiteboard and hang the older posters up around the classroom for reference.

Picture Dictionary: I am so thankful that Title I bought these for my classroom a few years ago:

I have a class set of 20, but usually less than 10 are being used at any given time, so consider just purchasing a few at a time if you don't have any. This dictionary is great for teaching alphabetical order: "You're looking for the word "octopus" and you're at "rabbit". Does "r" come before or after "o"?" This dictionary has easy-to-understand pictures (again important for ELL kiddos) and over 900 common words. My favorite part is in the appendices in the back which have colorful scenes of places like classroom, zoo, and construction site to show students the words in context . Most of the time, if my kiddos are unsure of how to spell a word, they can find it in this dictionary and solve their own problem without having to come to me.

Super Spellers: Every year I have a few kiddos who are naturally good spellers. I try to spread them out around the classroom so they are readily accessible. Often times as they tell others how to spell words they'll throw out random advice for how they remember to spell a given word that is just priceless. One time I heard a student say "Just think "to get her" and that's how you spell "together"!" and I was floored that I had never thought of it that way! Being utilized in this manner makes the super speller feel good about themselves plus it is sometimes easier for a child to ask a peer rather than come to the teacher. Not to mention it saves me from being interrupted!

Post-its: I favor the mini ones. My former principal gave everyone a personalized post-it holder a few years ago and it was the best gift. Ours looks something like this, but have our names on a little plate on the top instead of a logo:
If there is a word that needs to be spelled and I know that the child will be unable to sound it out (for a while we went through a phase where we weren't allowed to say "sound it out" but had to say "stretch the sounds" instead - does your school have any "banned" words or phrases?) and I know that it's important for the word to be spelled correctly (there are some children who will completely freeze up if they don't know how to spell a word - their perfectionism, for lack of a better term, simply won't allow them to use invented spelling) then I will jot the word down on a post-it and stick it to their desk. This way I don't have to repeat it 5 times as they write it, plus they can pass the post-it on if someone else needs the same word. A few times we have collected the post-its at the end of a writing session and tried to create sentences with them, it was a fun filler activity!

Different kinds of paper: Although we are encouraged to have a writing journal, I find that it leads to boredom. We like to switch it up - sometimes writing in our journals but other times writing on index cards, sentence strips, receipt tape paper, or dry erase boards to name a few. I also like to make fun writing papers like this little freebie that I'm sharing with you to use for Cinco de Mayo:

Cinco de Mayo

I hope this post gave you at least one new idea, I'd love to hear what you do to stop your kiddos from forever asking "How do you spell...?" be sure to rustle up a comment below!

Oh, and I used a random number generator to pick two comments from last night's post to win their choice of one of my Roll & Cover games. Forgive me for not posting the pictures of the RNG as proof, but it's late and I'm tired :) Comments 2 and 8 were the winners, so that's Christine and Kate! Ladies, if you'll email me your choice of Roll & Cover games I'll email it to you tomorrow!

4 Rustle Up A Response!:

Miss Squirrels said... Reply to comment

Some great ideas for writing! Thank you...
We were not allowed to say "Use that word in a sentence" for awhile because of DIBELS. We had to say "Use that word"...they knew what it meant- but the language was supposed to be the same as the "test".
Made me feel like a cheater:(

Going Nutty!


Kimberley Moran said... Reply to comment

I love the individual word wall idea! We are doing plants and I am so sick of spelling flower!

First in Maine

School Sparks Renee said... Reply to comment

That picture dictionary looks great. Thanks for the link to Amazon. Renee

KinderMyles said... Reply to comment

My kids have a good journal with fancy paper and a composition book for general doodling and workstation writing. I started having them bring me their black and white when they want a word that isn't on their word wall (in their folder or the themed ones on the bulletin board -they are usually good at remembering if it is in a book title). I write down the word for them but I have them tell me the sounds they hear (and get a segmenting assessment in there) and tell them about different sounds(in that word the a sound is spelled ai). I was using sticky notes but they seem to disappear and this way it is in their notebook if they need it again.