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FOR EDUCATORS - SPELLING

Literacy Leadership Brief: Teaching and Assessing Spelling

Step 1

Spelling involves the successful conversion of the spoken word into the written word. However, many descriptions of the spelling process reduce it to simply mapping sounds onto letters. This is it is an inadequate description of the skill set required for effective spelling in English which is phonologically opaque. This paper outlines how good spellers draw on several linguistic resources, alongside a metacognitive disposition to have a conscience about their spelling—a felt responsibility to get it right for their readers. The linguistic resources they draw upon are phonological knowledge, morphological knowledge, orthographic knowledge, etymological knowledge, visual knowledge, and semantic knowledge. The paper makes the case for all students to  taught  all the linguistic threads that weave through words and that is key to equity of outcomes in spelling. This International Literacy Association: Literacy Research Panel Paper's Principal Author is Misty Adoniou, University of Canberra, Australia.

Touchstones 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Key words: Spelling  Assessment

What Should Teachers Know about Spelling?

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Dr Misty Adoniou

This article describes essential teacher knowledge for teaching spelling, along with a description of how this knowledge may convert to effective classroom pedagogy. The article is the result of a study of 14 beginning teachers who were participants in a broader study of their experience of teaching literacy in the first year in the classroom after graduation. The broad aim of the study was to determine if there were changes that could be made to their teacher preparation that would better prepare them to teach literacy in their first year teaching in the classroom. Teaching spelling was quickly identified as an area of literacy in which they were struggling. They were nervous about their own spelling skills but also had a limited pedagogy for spelling. The article describes the spelling knowledge they needed to have, with reference to the challenges they faced and presents the changes that were subsequently made to the teacher preparation of future teachers at the university from which they graduated.

Touchstones  5, 6, 8, 9, 10

Key words: Teacher knowledge  Teacher education  Spelling  Phonics  Writing

Morphology Works

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Kirby, J. R; Bowers, P.N; Queen's University in What Works? Research into Practice Research Monograph # 41

In this short clear article, the authors explain morphology – how words are composed as meaningful parts – in particular affixes such as prefixes and vowel and consonant suffixes. They say that sensitivity to morphological structure and the ability to manipulate that structure (that is “morphological awareness”):

•predicts reading development

•contributes to word meaning and to reading comprehension 

•increases vocabulary and reading achievement.

They suggest that teachers can help children by engaging in “morphological instruction” and they provide useful examples of what teachers may do. If you may want to read further, try: The Effects of Morphological Instruction on Literacy Skills: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Peter N. Bowers, John R. Kirby and S. Hélène Deacon. Review of Educational Research Vol. 80, No. 2 (June 2010), pp. 144-179

Key words: Morphology  Word structure  Reading comprehension  Vocabulary

P is for Pterodactyl

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Beryl Exley  ALEA Practically Primary June 2020

Intelligent reading teachers know that learning to read is a journey, from the place where the child first experiences language and starts to make sense of sounds and their written representations whilst being nurtured in the bosom of the family, to a place of reading a wide range of disciplinary texts fluently, with meaning and critical intent.

Key words: Phonics  Reading  Writing

Spelling and Reading Development: The effect of teaching children multiple levels of representation in their orthography

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Devonshire, V; Morris, P; Fluck, M. University of Portsmouth, UK Learning and Instruction 25 (2013) 85-94

The authors explain that English has a deep or opaque orthography since only 56% of its words can be predicted by phonological rules. Highly transparent languages such as Finnish, Italian and Spanish have an almost one-to-one mapping between letters and sounds. The authors suggest that for transparent languages where there is a close mapping of letters and sounds an approach known as phonics would seem highly appropriate.However, for English it may be beneficial to teach young children multiple levels of representation explicitly. They tested this view by explicitly teaching morphology, etymology, phonology, and form rules to 120 English children 5-to7 years old. They compared the effectiveness of this instruction with a phonics-based condition and found the comprehensive intervention significantly improved the literacy skills of the children including both word reading and spelling compared with the phonics condition. They suggested that early teaching of English literacy should include instruction in morphology, etymology and rules about form in addition to traditional phonics.

Key words: Phonics  Spelling  Morphology  Phonology  Etymology

Effective Vocabulary Instruction

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Sedita, Joan Published in “Insights on Learning Disabilities” 2(1) 33-45, 2005

This article outlines the importance of effective vocabulary instruction across all year levels and learning areas. The high correlation in the research literature of word knowledge with reading comprehension indicates that if students do not adequately and steadily grow their vocabulary knowledge, reading comprehension will be affected. Sedita promotes developing word consciousness; having an interest and awareness of words. Word conscious students enjoy learning new words and engaging in word play. The article states that all students benefit from hearing language that incorporates the vocabulary and syntax (sentence structures) in high-quality written English.

Key words:   Vocabulary instruction  Word consciousness  Reading comprehension  Research  Word structure

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