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Monday, July 16, 2012

I hate spelling, tantrums, & whining

I have been working on creating spelling lists for my class for the last three days. It is not working out so well. In fact, its the exact opposite of going well. I had a dream last night... about creating spelling lists.

It's not required that I teach it. Its optional in our curriculum. Yes... third grade spelling is optional as is handwriting. We do not teach cursive yet my kids need to be able to read it when they come across it or Grandma sends them a letter.

So I threw a tantrum.... 
I gave up and said "its optional... I can skip it!" 
I went grocery shopping
I bought Haagen Daaz ice cream. 

Haagen Daaz...
my favorite!

Then I got a tummy ache as 
sugar and I are not on speaking terms!

After I recovered from my sugar high... I did some whining to Erika and hubby and maybe even a son or two. (Yep... horrible grammar in that last sentence but sometimes you just need it for the mental image it creates!)

Then I tried again. I researched and researched. No one had the same thing. Then I had a brilliant idea!!! I went to the district website pulled up our reading program and found the optional list of spelling words for each until. 

That's when I remembered
our reading program!!

I took one list at the words and decided if my incoming third graders could not spell the words on this list, we've got some major issues. I tried them out on my own incoming third grader... he told me they were baby words. 

Ice Cream
Tummy Ache
MORE whining

Finally sleeping

So since everyone around me has heard this story I thought I would share so you don't feel left out! 

There HAS to be a better way! I am trying to reinvent the wheel here and I don't wanna anymore. What do you do for spelling? Where do you get your lists from? Do you think I should just skip a la district provided currciulum?? =)) Think my professor would notice if I white out that part of my thesis requirements?



At July 16, 2012 at 11:33 AM , Blogger Dani said...

I totally agree that curriculum words in upper grades (I teach 4th) are way too easy. I think the only kids who benefit from them are new-ish EL students. My grade level focused our spelling and vocab around prefixes, suffixes, and roots. Each week, the kids had 5 prefixes, suffixes, or roots to know how to spell and the meaning of, plus 15 words that all used the prefixes, roots, or suffixes for the week. They had to be able to spell and put them in a sentence. We used some hard words, but the kids felt proud for learning it. Plus, when they got to the standardized test questions with roots, prefixes, and suffixes, they thought they were so easy. We repeated the common roots, prefixes, and suffixes many times during the year, just with different words. I wish I had my lists to share with you, but I'm not the teacher on my team in charge of it. The lists and just "appeared" (love my team) in my box each week, so I only have hard copies.

Good luck with your spelling!

A Place to Thrive

At July 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM , Blogger Jessica Cramer said...

We have always used the "reading series" spelling. Last year, after I knew I would only be teaching ELA this year, I started coming up with spelling from the novels we were using. This year I am stuck between continuing novel spelling words and a website I found that had some already done. I have actually been procrastinating this week on spelling as well!!! Here is the website I found:
(Just click on the left for your particular grade)
Maybe this will help!!!!

~Jessica @ Fabulous and Fun 4th Graders

At July 16, 2012 at 12:42 PM , Blogger Rachel Lamb said...

ok, as a gal with a maters in reading, I just cringed! Spelling is SO important! But we so often go about it the complete wrong way! I've been right where you are.
I highly suggest Words Their Way. There is no reason to make spelling lists right now-I promise! Give your kiddos a pre-assessment like the 2nd day, see where they need help, and go from there. If you can-purchase the words their way manual on amazon or BN. It is chock full of lists and it has 2 leveled assessments that I give B,M and End of Year.
I'd be happy to help you out!
the tattooed teacher

At July 16, 2012 at 12:59 PM , Blogger Debbie said...

I also agree....third graders need spelling list! I intend to give my third graders their list! What I am planning on doing it using Spelling city website (its free) and they can a list of common misspelled words...and other types of list.....I also intend as the weeks go on to incorporate words that the class is struggling with in their writing. Using spelling city is great and allows you to even print off handwriting papers with their spelling words or even to teach cursive. Check it out!

Mrs. M's superstars

At July 16, 2012 at 1:11 PM , Blogger FourthGrade Flipper said...

I use spelling lists from our reading series (Treasures, McGraw Hill) and lists that I create from novels we read. Our team started making units that go with themes throughout the year, therefore the spelling lists were not in sequential order. We jumped around the reading series, poetry, novels, etc. to match our six "themes" throughout the year. This still needs a ton of tweaking and I am just learning about D5 (no one in our school talks about it to my knowledge).

Anyway, I don't agree with making students write all their spelling words 3x each no matter how many they already knew how to spell on the pretest. I went against my team on this (very rare for me to do) and I only make my reading group write words that they miss on the pretest on Monday (5x each for homework...if they make an error on homework, they then write it 10x each and so on). We give a worksheet from the spelling book for homework on Tuesday and spelling sentences for homework on Wednesday. The students hate using their spelling words in sentences and I hate grading them, but there is something to be said for students having to use CUPS (capitalization, punctutation, usage, spelling) in sentences with context clues to demonstrate the meaning of spelling words (many spelling words in our series are new words to our students).

By writing complete "meaningful" sentences even in isolation on spelling sentences homework, they improve greatly on their use of CUPS and they are held accountable by a grade on every sentence assignment. Sentence scores below 80% must be corrected. So I have turned spelling more into an English, vocabulary exercise but they still have spelling tests on Fridays. The spelling test does include 2 or 3 dictation sentences where they must write the whole sentence on the test using proper CUPS and can lose points on other words spelled incorrectly in that sentences or lose points on CUPS.

I will be interested to see what you decide to do with your spelling! Thanks for reading this never ending blog post:)
Fourth Grade Flipper

At July 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM , Blogger Lisa R. said...

I was thinking of doing a spelling homework menu by giving them choices of fun activities to practice their spelling words (i.e. spelling spaghetti, use pipe cleaners to spell words, etc) and have them pick how to practice their spelling words off of the menu. Maybe it won't seem like pulling teeth anymore & they can have fun with it. :)
Learning Is Something to Treasure

At July 16, 2012 at 3:02 PM , Blogger Mrs. Brown said...

I also totally recommend Words Their Way!!! It is differentiated so your students will be at lists at their level- and you combine so not like 25 different lists. And- it teaches kids about words not just give them words to memorize and forget! :)

At July 16, 2012 at 3:56 PM , Blogger Tina Moricz said...

There is a really great book that I can't remember the title of right now, but will look it up when I get back into my classroom this week, that takes a very different approach to spelling. Spelling is optional for us and I don't have a formal spelling program anymore. I was tired of students who could memorize or learn every word on their list, but then misspell the word a week later in their writing. I used to use an individualized spelling program where we would build lists as a class around the skill of the week and then let the students choose which words to practice. So now we do practice some skills, but I put the focus on how they use it in their writing. I don't assign spelling homework. When I want to take a spelling grade, I look at their writing. This is also really great for those students who have anxiety about taking those weekly tests and their parents thanked me for taking the tests out of the equation. Instead their kids learned how to be successful by looking up words or using strategies to get as close to the word as they could. We looked at the CC standards to see which skills were essential for the kids to learn and that is what we focused on.

At July 16, 2012 at 5:13 PM , Blogger Quiet Wyatt said...

I agree with a few other posters on Words Their Way. It has a spelling inventory to level the students' lists. It has game ideas to practice their words. It's just a really great tool to use.

At July 17, 2012 at 7:54 AM , Blogger Micha said...

I used for my fourth graders last year. They have lists for grade levels as well as dictation sentences. I was like you, couldn't stand our reading series so didn't use it.

At July 17, 2012 at 8:45 AM , Blogger Janis Leach said...

I highly recommend googling "Beth Newingham word study." I modeled my spelling after hers and love it! (My centers are waaaaayyyy simpler than hers!)

I have recently blogged about my word study and have a homework freebie. My team and I discussed how we hate copying so much and decided to have ONE spelling cover sheet for the whole year! (I work with some pretty smart ladies!)

I'm your latest follower. Hope you come by and check out my blog. I think I'll post some spelling resources today. You've inspired me.

Grade Three is the Place for Me

At July 17, 2012 at 10:04 AM , Blogger Ann said...

Hey Misty
I've been thinking about spelling lists lately, too. I get a list with my reading series (Harcourt) but for the first few stories they are WAY easy and I have "spellingate" on my hands every year because parents pay tuition at my school and for some reason, this tuition-payment personifies itself during spelling. It's weird, I know. Without this comment becoming even LONGER, just let me tell you that having hard spelling words gives parents peace about the money they spend on tuition. Who knew?! Anyway, I use spelling bee words to supplement, and was going to add some dolch words, but now I', thinking "words their way" is worth checking out. Thanks for your post.
The Caffeinated Classroom

At July 17, 2012 at 11:20 AM , Anonymous Cathy said...

I also recommend Words Their Way.

I'm working on a reading specialist endorsement, and everything I'm learning points to the importance of having a meaningful spelling program that teaches the kids about words - how they work, how you can break them down and put them back together, and how they're related to each other. Research shows that good spelling skills can help boost reading skills, too - which makes sense. I'm hearing about new reading series that are coming out that don't have spelling at all - nor is there time provided for spelling instruction - and that really concerns me. I'm afraid we're going to see some negative long-lasting effects from that move.

We use Reading Street, and I like their spelling lists because they follow an important phonetic or spelling pattern each week. I've also heard of teachers who use such a list of words that teach a spelling pattern, give the kids just the first 10 to study, then give the kids those plus another 10 words that use the pattern. That way, they can see if kids have truly learned and can apply that spelling pattern.

Keep us posted and let us know what you decide!


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