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careerchanger's Message:

I tutor 3rd - 5th grade students (and occasionally older) in math and reading and am FL certified to teach those and more. First grade is out of my realm of experience, but one of my granddaughters recently struggled with a word search spelling review and I'm wondering about its appropriateness for homework. I've read that there is no research showing word searches to be effective means of vocabulary/spelling instruction. I've also noticed that many teachers use them as time fillers and noting that they are popular with the students. The best conjectures I found on potential value was visualization of letter combinations in making the grapheme/phoneme connection. There is some logic in the claim that anything that adds repetition of the words in an interesting way increases practice. At the first grade level, recognizing left to right letter combinations within a word search may be useful; words going down, perhaps; and even words diagonally down and left to right. Any reverse variations of these seem to call on different pattern recognition skills more in the area of math or even art and better taught in other ways.

So, I am asking those of you who love word searches whether you can justify them as effective tools for teaching/reviewing spelling and vocabulary. Of course, I'm also interested in any opposing views.

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
careerchanger 11-09-2010 03:58 PM

Thanks for the experienced view of spelling homework as well as word searches. I was pleased not to get a strong defense of word searches.

broomrider 10-26-2010 09:06 AM

Spelling homework seems to me to be a public relations tool between school and home. Yeah it helps some of the students with their study, but mostly it reminds parents what the spelling list is in hope of their help with some review. Parents seem very comfortable with helping with spelling and like to know that "real" learning is going on at school.

I have used word searches as crowd control during reading groups, feeling that it does no harm and may help with pattern recognition and problem solving. That was pre-daily 5, of course. I never made it homework, but it falls under "do no harm" especially if one teaches in a school that requires daily homework.

careerchanger 10-25-2010 09:04 AM

I tutor 3rd - 5th grade students (and occasionally older) in math and reading and am FL certified to teach those and more. First grade is out of my realm of experience, but one of my granddaughters recently struggled with a word search spelling review and I'm wondering about its appropriateness for homework. I've read that there is no research showing word searches to be effective means of vocabulary/spelling instruction. I've also noticed that many teachers use them as time fillers and noting that they are popular with the students. The best conjectures I found on potential value was visualization of letter combinations in making the grapheme/phoneme connection. There is some logic in the claim that anything that adds repetition of the words in an interesting way increases practice. At the first grade level, recognizing left to right letter combinations within a word search may be useful; words going down, perhaps; and even words diagonally down and left to right. Any reverse variations of these seem to call on different pattern recognition skills more in the area of math or even art and better taught in other ways.

So, I am asking those of you who love word searches whether you can justify them as effective tools for teaching/reviewing spelling and vocabulary. Of course, I'm also interested in any opposing views.




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