Live Spelling

In my earlier post, I wrote about how I am searching to find strategies to help my students understand and make connections phonics.  A few weeks ago, an organization within my community sponsored my classroom and purchased the Letterland Phonics Program for us! Over the past week, I have been implementing the program into my daily routine and my students are loving it!

One of the activities that Letterland suggests is “live spelling”. During this activity, each student is given a letter card.  When the leader says a word from the word list of the day, the students look at their card and decide if they have a sound in the word. If they do, the student gets up and goes to the front of the class. The students that are in the front of the group have to arrange themselves in the correct order of the sounds of the word. The group decides if the word is spelled correctly or not. Then, all students use the finger tap method to see if students have the sounds in the correct order. {To see the finger tap method in action and to learn more about Letterland, watch the video below.}

During this strategy, students are focusing on phonemic awareness and decoding skills.  By emphasizing on phonemic awareness, students are learning how to spell the words. Teachers can implement phonemic awareness strategies by:
-saying words slowly and clearly
-saying the word in a sentence
-asking students to repeat phonemes they hear

When teachers emphasize decoding skills, students are learning how to read words. According to WeAreTeachers Blog, 5 strategies that teachers can implement for decoding words are:
1. Use air writing (having students write words/sounds/letters in the air)
2. Create images to connect sounds & letters (using picture associations)
3. Practice decoding (frequent practice allows students to see their mistakes)
4. Attach images to sight words (picture associations will help students make connections with words that are exceptions to the rules of the language)
5. Weave in spelling practice (practicing allows students to visualize the letter:sound patterns within words)

There are many benefits to live spelling. By using picture cards, students are given a visual of the specific phoneme divisions.  When students make mistakes during live spellings, the mistakes become teaching opportunities that can help all students. Throughout live spelling, weaker spellers receive additional support as they participate in the activities. The live spelling routine provides students with an opportunity to understand the rules of the language and why words are spelled the way they are. Lastly, students with short attention spans are typically engaged in the activity because they are constantly moving around.

I believe that is important to remember that all of these strategies should not be utilized at one time. Teachers should not feel overwhelmed when using these practices. If teachers feel overloaded, students will feel that way too. I would focus on trying to use one strategy, and then add a new one once you are comfortable.

I implemented the “live spelling” strategy this week after having being out of school for a week due to Hurricane Matthew. At first I was apprehensive about beginning new strategies this far into the school year, but I’m so glad that I started it now. My students are engaged during the activities and I can tell that they have made connections with the sounds they have been introduced to so far. My students talk about the stories behind the letters all of the time and write about the characters in their journals. Students enjoy getting in front of the class and becoming part of the lesson.



One thought on “Live Spelling

  1. leighahall October 22, 2016 / 6:30 pm

    I was interested to learn more about Letterland, particularly if it was backed by any research. I can’t tell that it is. They make the argument on their website that their program is in line with research, but it doesn’t appear that their program is actually supported by any research (meaning I can’t tell if anyone outside the company has done any research on their program). They cite research done on phonics, but it’s not particularly current ( I would say the same thing for the blog link. At least Letterland is trying to connect what they do to research (and make the argument that their program is research-based even if it’s not research tested). The We Are Teachers blog doesn’t do that.

    I’m not saying these are good or bad recommendations. What I am saying is that I think it’s important to be critical of these recommendations and what they are grounded in. Districts tend to purchase programs and promote them. I’ve had conversations with principals where they want me to solve their problems by recommending a good program. Programs can come with good ideas, but they can’t fix large scale reading and writing issues (this is me rambling a bit on the side here). The Teachers blog, I believe, references a program as well. I am, by nature, pretty wary of most programs.


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