Differentiated Spelling Ideas
April 02, 2003
Over the years I have been able to create a differentiated spelling program based on Diane Snowball's publications on how to teach spelling. I use a basic list of words that are spelling patterns that fifth graders are required to know from a textbook. I pre-test the entire class at the same time. Students try to find the pattern as I provide each word. The student that can figure out the pattern for the week receives a reward. I then check the words and return the list to the students for them to correct. The words that the students wrote incorrectly are then written into a spelling wordbook that the students are required to have.
We then brainstorm new words using the same pattern. Students can read the room, use their minds to rhyme, or look words up in the books they read or in dictionaries. Students then choose their favorite word that must be a spelling word that they feel they want to learn and is an appropriate 'fifth grade word'. As the students provide the words, I write them onto a poster board. Students who want to be more challenged will offer to take more challenging words and students who want less challenging words provide words that are 'comfortable' for them and choose those. Each student then ends up with 20 words to learn for the week. Each has his/her own list.
I do this each Monday. It only takes about 40 minutes. I give them different assignments each night as well as a packet that is due at the end of the week. Examples are word searches, pattern finds, read and find the pattern for the week in an article from a magazine, etc. The kids then test each other each Friday on their own words. This program has helped me tremendously with time constraints in scheduling. The children all feel successful and become acquainted with our language and vocabulary.