After spending much time with research on reading and spelling, I've decided to do spelling a bit different this year.
The skill of spelling is about learning letter patterns and using these patterns to form words. It's not about memorizing individual words, but about learning patterns that can be applied to many words.
My school districts uses Reading Street. I know at my level (second grade) the spelling lists are designed to practice specific phonics skills each week. My plan will fit in very well with our assigned spelling lists!
Here's my plan. When my students take their weekly spelling tests, they will be tested on 6 of the 12 list words each week. I'll also give them the option to try the 3 challenge words. Then, I'll give them 6 more words. These extra 6 words will be the true test of the spelling pattern. I'll be giving them 6 nonsense words based on the weekly pattern.
We all have noticed that students with a good visual memory do well on spelling tests. When they are given nonsense words, they are forced to separate their visual memory and use the true skill of spelling: listening to sounds in words and applying the patterns they have learned. This is a skill needed in decoding as well as encoding words.
I wanted to share my paperwork that I'll be sending home on Monday. First, you'll see my letter to my parents about the new spelling test style. (Click the image to download.) You probably won't want to copy the letter as is, since it has my "class motto" on the top and my signature at the bottom. Feel free to use the idea to try a letter of your own. (Let me know if you decide to try!)
I've also included the form for the spelling test I'll be using this year. Click the image to download, and feel free to use this, too! (There's no logo or signature on this! Just run off and split down the middle!)