Welcome to Life at the Holman's.

Within this blog, you will find everything from recipes to school ideas to everyday fun stuff and things we have learned along the way. From time to time you will find just a tidbit of our journey here in Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Spelling Power Vs. Tradition Spelling and other Curriculum

The first week of school is probably one of the hardest weeks because it is so tiring.  Getting back in a school time routine takes a lot out of you, and I was mentally exhausted by last night.  However, with that said, it was a pretty good week.  While we had our ups and downs of trying to keep everyone focused on their work, we made it, and I could already see our "school routine" returning toward the end of the week.

I wanted to take time to introduce both of the spelling books that my kids are using this year.  They are two totally different styles of teaching spelling.  One is the more traditional weekly spelling list style, and the other is a less familiar style called Spelling Power. I will begin with giving you a run down on Spelling Power.  (You can find more information at http://rainbowresource.com/product/Spelling+Power/019940/1281795952-632483.  This site gives a great overview.)

Savannah has been using Spelling Power since she was 6 years old, and it has worked really well for her.  Spelling Power is produced by Beverly Adams and one of the things that I like most about this books is that you only have to purchase one book for all the school years. This book is designed for ages 8 to adult and has a unique way of helping the student learn their words. The beginning age depends on the developmental level of the child (There is a section in the book that deals with what age/learning level to start using the book).There is a survey test and a placement test that is given at the start of the book that will let you know what level your child should begin at.  We actually use this survey/placement test method at the beginning and end of each year to see where we should start in the book as well as what level we tested out at by the end of the year.

The book's word lists are not given as a "word list per week" style.  The entire book is divided into various words lists according to the skill that will be studied and then further divided learning levels A-K.  These divided lists are called your "flow lists."  For example, all of the words in Group 1 throughout the book deal with short a words.   Level A-Group 1 covers the easiest short a words, and there are only 10 words in the list.  However, Level G-Group 1 will also cover the short a words on a more advanced level.

There are 47 different group rules that are covered throughout the book on the various levels; however, not all the rules are covered in each level. For instance, in Level A, you will cover Groups 1-10, 12-14, 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 35, and 47.  The individual levels only cover the "rules" that the learner should be ready for, such as, Level 1 does not cover Group 15 rule because it is a more difficult rule and is picked up in a later level.  (I realize this is a little confusing to try to "read" how the book is set up.  The book is actually set up in a very easy to follow way. It is just hard to describe on "paper.")

Each lesson is meant to take only 15 minutes per day. The teacher gives the child words to spell for 5 minutes, and however many words the student can test through in 5 minutes is how many words they have for that day.  If there are any words that are missed, the student is taken through a 7 step learning process that helps the child learn the missed words.  The student has a sheet (reproducible pages are found in various writing level page sizes in the back of the book) that they fill out to "practice" and learn words they misspelled from that days lesson (the second 5 minute time period).  Finally, they participate in a learning activity using the words that they missed.  This acts as a reinforcement and a great learning tool for the difficult words.  There are many learning activity ideas located in the back of the book. The following day, the teacher/student begins "testing" the list with the previously missed words.  When all the words are completed in the group and they have good understanding of the spelling rule, they continue to the next group in the level.

While the book lists a wide variety of activities, one activity that my kids enjoy that is not in the book is shaving cream spelling.  You take a can of cheap shaving cream and put a pile of it on the desk/table (hint: make sure you have a surface that will not be affected by the shaving cream ingredients!).  The kids spread it out to create a writing surface and use their finger to "write" the dictated spelling words.  When the lesson is over, they can just play/create/draw in the shaving cream.  It is not just a fun spelling activity, but it also cleans the table and leaves it smelling good!  You can also do the same sort of activity using chocolate pudding and an jelly roll/cookie sheet.  This a little messier and stickier, but it is fun.  The kids get to practice spelling, play in their food, and have a snack all at the same time!  Just make sure they wash their hands first!

JJ is using Zaner-Bloser Spelling Connections 3 for 3rd grade.  JJ began with Spelling Power last year, and while he had no trouble with the book or the method of learning, I felt that he would benefit with the extra phonics and writing practice that this book had to offer. I purchased this book at the local library book sale this past spring for $0.25 and thought we would give it a try.  It uses the weekly spelling list style, and even though he knew most of the words in the list this week and was forced to repeat them each day (which I thought he would hate!), he enjoyed doing the variety of activities.  He said he "loved" his new spelling book.  I have found that he needs the variety of changing activities in his learning each day or he gets really bored, really quick!

This book focuses on a different idea each day.  It is divided into a page/section per day of learning: Day 1 - spelling and thinking which introduces the words, Day 2 - spelling and phonics which introduces the phonics rules that apply to each word, Day 3 - spelling and reading which works on such things as analogies, meaning of words in a sentence, and a complete the story section, Day 4 -  spelling and writing which uses various writing activities such as proof reading a letter for misspelled words, and Day 5 - spelling test and vocabulary connections using random words (not words from the list but words that do have the same "rules" as the list) in various reading/vocabulary activities.  This book also has the manuscript word with the cursive word right beside it which is helpful in introducing the cursive that we will start in the second semester.  There is also a sample sentence for each word.  I would compare this book/style of learning to the spelling curriculum that I used when teaching elementary public school.

While I am a definitely a supporter of the Spelling Power method of learning, one must always realize that each person learns in a different way.  I have met people who love the Spelling Power method and have told me how well it works (which is how I heard about it in the first place), but I have also met people who said it just did not work for their child.  The lady that I purchased my book from was able to use it successfully with one child but not with her second child.  Remember to be sensitive to your learner.  I plan on going back to Spelling Power with JJ next year.  However, that will depend upon him.  If he is succeeding and still enjoying his weekly spelling list style, we will adjust our plans accordingly.