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:~: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 :~:

Teaching Spelling Early

I'm veering away from writing discussion today, for the most part, since I saw a blog post this morning that really struck a chord with me. Esi Sogah has an interesting post up on the Avon Romance blog. She talks about children being emotionally hurt by teachers using red ink to correct their work.

That isn't really what got me thinking, though I have noticed that my kids' work is always corrected in blue. What I noticed that had me nodding my head was the part about spelling, and how the kids get points on tests just for getting the sounds of the word right, even if the spelling isn't correct. Ugh. Maybe this bothers me more since I tend to be pretty picky with spelling and grammar, but when I was in elementary school (which wasn't really that long ago *grin*) we were taught from the very beginning that the only way to get the word correct on a spelling test was to spell the word correctly.

My daughter had a second grade teacher who encouraged creative spelling, as she called it. I'm all for that--the kids are trying, and they're learning to sound out the words and attempt to spell them on their own--but I think it would have been more helpful to the kids if the teacher wrote the correct spelling next to the word so they could learn the correct spelling for next time. My daughter is now going into fifth grade in the fall, and she still struggles with spelling, not just on tests but as she writes every day. If she'd been taught early on that correct spelling was important, maybe this wouldn't be an issue for her now.

What do you think? Do you think it hurts kids to wait until they get older to start teaching correct spelling?


Blogger B.E. Sanderson said...

Oh man, Elisa. This is one of my huge pet peeves (and part of the reason I chose to homeschool). Nothing can get me burning quicker than talking about the ways children are mistaught. :steam:

Anyway, my daughter went through her formative years in public school, and her spelling was horrible. After two years of home school, she made the state spelling bee. Once I taught her the basic rules for spelling, and showed her how to memorize those words that don't fit the rules, she zoomed right along. Of course, it all would have been easier if she'd been taught these things when she was five or six instead of ten. Bah.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

I teach high schoolers, many of whom never learned to spell. Do you really want me to answer this?

Luckily, there's hope. At least at the school where I teach, spelling instruction begins in kindergarten and goes up through sixth grade. It's amazing that my Monsters can spell better than most of the juniors and seniors I teach.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

I teach COLLEGE STUDENTS who can't spell...do you really want ME to answer this?

When I was going through elementary school it was all the rage to not correct poor spelling and grammar because they thought it would damage our self esteem. And what did they think was going to happen when we couldn't spell or use correct grammar when we hit my 9th grade hard ass English class (which is where I finally learned most of these things permanently)?

This could launch a diatribe against the No Child Left Behind program, the education system in our country in general...but I haven't cafinated yet, so I'll refrain.

6:30 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Since I was a teacher for 9 years, I also have my own (strong) opinions about this. When I was teaching, "inventive" spelling was all the rage. As a science teacher, I thought it was booha. (And my junior high kids hated me because I actually expected them to write (and spell correctly) in complete sentences.) Luckily now - at my daughter's school - they're taught the correct spellings. Like you said, Elisa, they're encouraged to sound out words and spell them themselves, but the teacher ALWAYS puts the correct spelling up, and at home for her weekly tests we go around and around about words you just have to memorize.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

And I mark in red pen (and purple and green and pink . . .).

According to my students, none of them have been traumatized by red ink.

But they hate the following questions:

1) Why?
2) How?
3) Explain. (okay, that's not really a question)
4) So what?

12:16 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Lin. I always used green. I had boxes of green pens. And when the kids swiped them, I'd get mean.

My favorite was "Nice try."

1:41 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

I was going to say that it's just plain STUPID to give points for TRYING to spell something right.

But then...teachers typically give partial points in math for attempting the work a problem but getting the wrong answer...

No. It's still stupid. It's either spelled correctly or it's not. There is no gray area in spelling. We're not talking rocket science here ... we're talking SPELLING.

For God's sake, if a kid is traumatized by red ink...they've got some serious rough moments coming later in life. What will they do when they're bullied on the playground? Or turned down for a job? Or their electricity is turned off because they paid their bill late? Or when their boss says they'll work the overtime or finish the project or whatever or their fired?

Oh, boy. Don't get me started...

8:15 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

ROFLMAO, J. Don't hold back. Tell us what you REALLY think. :)

9:21 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

B.E., that's awesome that your daughter made the spelling bee. Congrats!

Lin and Maggie, I'm glad you did answer. :) A lot of the parents around here don't see a problem with the way spelling and grammar are taught.

2:33 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

Eli, that's what I wish they'd do. My daughter and I spend so much time studying for her spelling tests since she's just learning to memorize words. Luckily, both my boys seem to be natural spellers. They both manage to do really well with minimal studying.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Elisa said...

J, I agree. Spelling is either right, or wrong. As for math...a little off topic, but I don't know what happened to math in the schools around here. They're now teaching "new math". If they don't do the work exactly the way they're shown (which isn't something I can help them with since I learned math the old fashioned way LOL) they get no credit for the problem even if the answer is right.

2:37 AM  

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