PRIMARY SPELLING PROGRAMME
A few years ago, after considerable research, we made the decision to change from our current spelling programme (Spelling Mastery) to Words Their Way. Last year we organized to have one of the authors of this programme to come from Melbourne this week and spend time in small groups with teachers during the day and meet with the whole staff after school continuing these workshops during the primary staff meeting time. In the words of one of our teachers “These workshops have revolutionized the way I will teach spelling from now on”. The presenter, Chris Killey, showed numerous strategies which will enable students to successfully encode words – not only their current spelling lists – but transfer these strategies to other words which follow the same spelling pattern.
These spelling strategies actually stand alone and can be used by teachers and parents to support children regardless of what spelling programme a school may be using. It is a focus on the teaching of Spelling rather than the teaching of Lists of Words.
We have decided to take the phonetic alphabet (the sounds for each individual letter) as the foundational strategy and one other strategy each week as a whole school approach to spelling throughout the primary classes. This will give a common language for staff and students right through the school and over the next three years we believe that we will see incredible progress in spelling as students learn how to transfer these weekly strategies to encode new words in every aspect of writing throughout all curriculum areas.
We recognize that parents can be an incredible support in student learning, so we will be sharing the weekly strategies with you in the newsletter so if you wish, you can watch the video clips and talk to your children about them. For example whatever strategy you watch, look for that strategy in the words of their home readers over the next few weeks. This will start soon when students are able to say the alphabet (different vowel and consonants sounds) confidently.
We believe that over the next 9 – 10 months, students will realize that instead of simply “sounding” the words out phonetically there are reasons and rules for good spelling choices. Over time they are more likely to become independent spellers – not just learners of spelling lists. Some “very good” spellers simply have an excellent memory but have difficulty spelling new or unknown words in their writing. Many children actually use homophones (words which have the same meaning) to avoid spelling a more expressive word which they have not learned previously in a spelling list, because they don’t have strategies to encode the new word.
If you would like to come on this journey with us, please watch out for the instructional video clips in the newsletter each fortnight.
The Prep, Year 1 and Year 2 students will learn these strategies as they are introduced in their current programme.
HEAD OF PRIMARY