Spelling – If in doubt, circle it out! by @Lit4Pleasure

How To Create A Class Of Independent Spellers

spelling

A strategy to support pupils improve their spelling strategies, by circling words which they think require attention.

The Standards & Testing Agency have in some ways made the marking of spellings more problematic than it’s ever been. They state quite clearly, that individual spellings should no longer be pointed out to children if you wish to mark it as an independent piece. This, coupled with Ofsted’s move away from heavy amounts of marking needing to be seen in books, could make the marking of spelling seem tricky.

What the The Standards & Testing Agency do say is that you can tell a child, through marking, that there are spelling errors in certain paragraphs that they’ve written. I actually think this is quite sensible if we wish to develop children as independent spellers.

How we have tried to create a culture of independent spellers in our classroom is by splitting up the writing process for children – and you can read more about that here. Regardless of the particular style the children like to write in, Vomitter, Paragraph Piler or Sentence Stacker, they have to ensure they attend to their spellings.

We taught the children, at the very beginning of the year, that when they are writing and they get to a word they want to use but can’t spell, they are to:

Invent It -> Circle It -> Continue.

Once at the editing stage, they then attend to these spellings by looking them up on the computer, using a dictionary, their electronic speller checker or by using their vocab book. This has proved very successful in identifying maybe 80% of spelling errors within in a piece.

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If In Doubt, Circle It Out

Now, at the end of a writing session, we also give the children around 5 minutes to ‘If In Doubt, Circle It Out’. This is where the children, alongside their talk-partner, circle any ‘unsure’ spellings – spellings they think they might need to attend to at the editing stage. This takes care of a further 15% of spellings. Finally, we, as the teachers, will then look to identify where the last 5% spellings may be hiding!

We should add that the children in our class take the editing of their work quite seriously because they know they may well want to publish it into our class library. We talk about the importance of publishing in developing independent writers – here.

To find out more about our approach to teaching writing, which we call ‘Real-World Literacy’, you can follow this link.


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About Literacy For Pleasure 13 Articles
This blog is written and run by two UK Primary School Teachers. We both work in the same class in KS2 – one as a TA and the other as the class teacher. Our school is a very ‘normal’ Local Authority State School. Biography 1 I studied French and Russian at Birmingham University, and later gained two MAs, one in Linguistics and the other in Children’s Literature. I am a serving Primary school teacher of many years’ experience. I have worked in both the maintained and the independent sectors as SENCO and Deputy Head. With a strong background in language and literacy I have worked with School’s Television, developing storypacks to support children new to English. I am currently interested in the possibilities of teaching literacy through process writing throughout the Primary phase of schooling. I began my teaching life on a Wednesday morning in a tiny Victorian school building inside a square of iron railings up a backstreet in Handsworth, Birmingham. I was there because I needed to earn some money to support myself in beginning a Ph D, and the Education Office had sent me to St. Silas’ C. of E. school where they had no teacher for ‘Infant 2’. Thus I found myself on that day without preparation, training or support, required immediately to take charge of a class of thirty six infants, some of whom were new to English. I can’t remember exactly how I passed the day, but I do recall that the next day I took in my copies of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ and ‘Just-so Stories’ because I had loved them as a child. Amazingly, they went down well. After this initial baptism of fire, followed by several months of surviving mainly by picking up tips from other teachers, I gradually began to feel that I might be getting somewhere. In the end, ‘Infant 2’ won out over the urban poetry of Baudelaire. I have never regretted this development. Later, doing an MA in linguistics and one in children’s literature gave me an academic background which convinced me of the rightness of the psycholinguistic theory of reading and writing, which foregrounds the achievement of meaning and communication. This has always been the one for me and I’ve based my teaching on it. I’ve stayed firmly in the classroom because there is no better place to discover and try out ways of enabling children to read and write with enjoyment and commitment. Through this website I am hoping to share the kinds of “quality” experiences we can give children at home and school which might create and enhance for them the pleasures of being literate. Biography 2 I studied Primary Education with History & Geography as my specialism, at The University Of Brighton, and later gained an MA in Education with Linguistics. I am a serving Primary school teacher of around five years experience. I have worked in both the maintained and independent sectors. When I was young, I didn’t realise that literature and the written word were for me to use or enjoy. If I can be honest with my reader for a moment – I very often still don’t. However, everyday, I’m turning what feels like a foggy day into bright sunshine alongside the children in my class. This history, I feel, puts me in an excellent position to give children writing advice because it is very likely I’ve been through their writing issue recently myself. I now write often. I’m finding my writing voice all the time and now I am teaching children how to find theirs too. As a result, you can understand why I am currently so interested in the possibilities of teaching writing as a craft and creating a learning environment which produces: readers and writers for life and children who can use writing to act out onto the world (for a multiple of reasons and for many different audiences). I want children to enter the literacy club as early as possible, so they have control of it and can use it effectively and for pleasure in their futures.
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