Have you ever noticed that your children study spelling words from Monday through Friday, take the test and aces it, only to spell the word wrong on Monday? It serves as a source of frustration for all of us. I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to use a spelling program, Sitton Spelling, with your children where this problem is addressed.
Currently your children are taught words in isolation. Imagine if reading were taught in this way, giving your children a list of words to read, and then asking them to read the words in a story. It would make no sense to our children. In the past, spelling programs have worked just this way. We give them spelling words in isolation and expect them to know the words when they use them in their daily work. The Sitton Spelling program not only offers your children a chance to learn words in context, but also to become better spellers in all writing opportunities.
This program is different from what you and I are used to seeing. No longer will we have a pretest and a Friday test. Instead we will start with a preview of the skill. I will give them a short list of words. Then for 5-7 days, we will work with those words, learning skills associated with them. At the end of the unit, I will test the students on the skills. The test will be in a close activity where, using a “fill in the blank” paragraph, students will add the skipped words, as I read the paragraph. These words aren’t necessarily the words that they saw at the beginning of the unit, but will be based on the skills tested. That can sound rather daunting, but it turns out to be wonderful. The words that your children miss become their spelling words to study. The neat thing about that is, that over the course of the year, your children will be retested periodically on these words. In traditional spelling if your child misses the word, oh well…the class moves on! Now your child will be retested and given new opportunities to learn these words.
No Monday list? As parents, that’s the way it’s always been done! What can your role be? That’s easy! Your involvement is still very much needed! In your packets is a list called “Core Words” that 3rd graders learn. Starting today, you can help your child begin to learn these words. These are the words that they will see in each unit test. You can expect your children to come home with spelling and writing activities. I welcome your involvement.
Your children will benefit greatly from the spelling skills that are taught. In reading, we teach skills like predicting, generalizations, and sequencing. Then they begin to apply it to reading at school and at home. In spelling, skills are rarely stressed. In our new program, students are led to discover rules for spelling. If you come to observe our spelling, you can expect to see students actively involved, discussing and discovering patterns and rules. Learning these rules will not only teach them the “3rd grade core list,” but your children will learn far more words, because they have generalized skills and rules for spelling. That is incredibly exciting!
Your children will become better editors of their daily work. Does it bother you to see your children spell “easy words” or words that they’ve had on spelling tests in 1st or 2nd grade, yet they consistently spell it wrong? Now your children will be held accountable for “Priority Words.” Each and everyday they must spell these words correctly. I will often check sections of their daily work for the accurate spelling of the “Priority Words.” We will start out with a small list and add to it throughout the remainder of the year. Don’t worry though, your child will be given a list of these words, so they have the resources they need to be successful.
You are welcome to visit our classroom and see our new spelling program in action. Since this program is so different, you may well have questions. As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me. I am looking forward to taking your children on an adventure in spelling, where they learn spelling skills that are transferred into all areas of their writing.