Sunday, October 26, 2014

I {HEART} Spelling! This is How We Do It...

Are you singing along with Montell and I?  Great song.  Even better? Spelling. I LOVE spelling. I have loved it since I was a kid.  It was my favorite subject, besides reading of course.  So naturally when I became a teacher it was one aspect that I loved to teach and wanted to make it special for my firsties so that they would love it as much as I did/do.

I am a firm believer in individualized spelling lists. I think it's important that each child is working on those important skill words that we learn about each week, but also important that they are not spending the week practicing words that they already know.  To many, this can sound like a daunting, time-consuming task.  However, it doesn't have to be.  My setup for spelling has evolved over the years and I must say that I am completely happy with it right now and I don't think it takes too much longer to put together and grade than a traditional spelling test.  But then again, this is how I've always done it so I don't really know any different.  So let's get on with it.

Obviously the first week that we do spelling for the school year the kids only take a pretest.  I give every student the first 10 words of the spelling list.  Every weekly list has 20 words total, but each student only gets 10 words to learn for the week.  The first 10 words of the list consist of 8 skill words and 2 vocabulary words for the first week.  Every week after that words 1-6 are skill words, 7-8 are review skill words from the week before, and 9-10 are vocabulary words for that week.

That first week, once they are done with their pretest, they turn it in.  I will then "grade" each child's pretest to see which words they got right and which words they got wrong.  I circle missed words on the pretest.  Any words missed are the first of their ten words that they will learn for the next week.  Then for however many more words the student needs to get to ten words, is how many words from the second 10 words on the list that I include.  I write the numbers of the words on the back side of their pretest, which also serves as their test page.  For example, if Charlie gets #1 & #7 wrong, I will write #1 and #7 first on their test side, and then begin at #11 from the main list and go until that student has ten words.

Grading Pretests

Graded Pretest & Words Circled on Individual Lists

Individual numbers for their individual spelling words are recorded on test side.

Final look at spelling test and two individual lists-one to go home that day, one to keep at school

If a student gets all of their 10 pretest words correct, the will get the second ten words on the list.  Words #11-18 are harder skill words, #19-20 are two "challenge words".  These words are usually seasonal words, the current month, monthly holidays, etc. 

The last thing that I do is to prepare two lists for my firsties with their words circled.  One list is for them to take home with them that day so that they can practice at home.  The second list I will hold onto until Monday and give to them to use for their morning work spelling practice that we do or for their Word Work station during Daily 5.  I keep their pretest/test papers in a designated spot in my room until we need them the following Friday.  You can check out my Independent Morning Work Spelling Activities here.

This little back table from IKEA is where I set everyone's new spelling list for the week on Mondays. They know that first thing in the morning on Monday they need to go find their list and keep it in their To Do folder.

You may notice that there is a dictation sentence spot at the bottom of the test.  This is a test that we did just a week or two ago.  I don't give a dictation sentence on the test until the kids have gotten used to the format and routine of spelling tests in our classroom.  I wait until about week 6 or 7 to give a dictation sentence.

Now I know a lot of you may be wondering how the actual test taking process goes and what it looks like.  I won't lie. The first couple of weeks can be a challenge for my firsties, but if you go through it all slowly and are walking around monitoring the kids while you give the words they catch on really quick.  Obviously the pretest is pretty smooth sailing because everyone has the first ten words.  It's when you get to the test when everyone has different words where it gets tricky.  Honestly, it's just a matter of the kids making sure that they're listening for their numbers and following along.  During the actual test all of the kids are given their test paper and I read through all twenty words, one at a time.  It is their job to follow along and if I say a number that is written on their test, then they need to write that word down on the matching line.  If that number isn't written on their test, then they don't write it down.  Many parents are apprehensive at first when I'm describing this at parent night, but I just reassure them and tell them to have faith.  Kids are very adaptive and they catch on quickly. By week 3 almost, if not all, of my firsties have got it!

The last thing that I wanted to add was that when I'm grading the tests, I use my Cookie Spellers pack as an added incentive for my firsties to do well on their spelling test.  You can check that pack out here.  I highly recommend it. It's another one of my favorites!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don't Be Scared of these Savings

Some of the Indiana teacher bloggers have a great freebie hop and $1 sale going on right now! Click here to go to the hop.

Here are my featured $1 items that you can snatch up...

Enjoy the freebies and $1 steals! I would love if you would follow my blog and TPT store if you're a first timer!

Happy shopping!