After giving my middle school classes a "test" to see who would be in our school spelling bee (scary!) I know I need to start some type of spelling program that just doesn't use the vocabulary workshop books. These kids cannot spell!!!! I know since I have been at this school there has been no set spelling program in the middle school. Now that I am the middle school language arts teacher it is disturbing how badly these kids spell.
I am going to start using greek and latin root words in at least the eighth grade to help them recognize words (plus they need them for high school entrance exams). What do you all use for spelling???
I have heard of sitton (not recommended by a lot of pro-teacher subscribers or parents). Has anyone use Spelling--An Integrated Approach for Middle School by Nancy Beattie?
I really need a plan before I can go to the principal and discuss our needs since we are on a very tight budget!
Our school finally dropped vocabulary workshop after using it for the last 20 years. I liked the way it was set up, however, the words were too advanced, for conversations at their level. I felt we were teaching them words they would more than likely never use. I also teach spelling through roots. The kids find it entertaining when I put the root on the board and they have to try and come up with as many words they can think of that use the root. Then we try and fill up the board with words and the kids try and define them using the definition of the root. I make it an informal thing. My son in high school has to memorize roots and their meanings, but never remembers them a week later. So, I think it's pointless to make them memorize it. However, if you make it fun and relaxing without a "test" over it hanging over their head, I find that they remember many more of them and even pick them out when they're reading . It's really cool to watch them. As far as spelling, I always assign a spelling test along with a vocabulary test during each story or novel we read. In addition, every time they write definitions and sentences for their vocabulary words, I hold them accountable for correct spelling and punctuation on EVERYTHING they write in that assignment. I start at 100 points and subtract one point for every missed period, capitalized letter, and misspelled word. If they use the vocabulary word improperly or use improper grammar, I take 3 point off for the grammar, and 5 points off for the word being missused. After the first graded assignment, they learn really quickly how important their writing and spelling are.
I do exactly the same thing when the students turn in written work if I am not using a rubric. I always hold my students accountable for spelling. It really gets to me when teachers put work out for all to see with so many spelling errors that is all anyone sees. If I have work I am displaying I make sure I put a note by all the work saying, this was a self-edit paper and there may be mistakes in grammar and spelling which was taken off when graded; however, I did not want to mess up the student's final copy. This way the reader knows I know there are errors.
I like what you said about the root words, I think I will start that when we resumeschool.
I like some of your ideas also. We dropped our spelling program (HOLT) several years ago because it just was not working. Students who could spell did well but those who struggled never bothered to study and bombed the tests.
My school seems to be very against taking point off for errors. I usually circle errors and try not to edit papers myself. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed because my I get many of my 7th graders, many do not capitalize, use end marks, indent, or spell check. It's very frustrating because if I take off points I am made to feel like a demon. I usually use a rubric where conventions are only five points so students can still do well without using any punctuation. Maybe I need to change that?
We do talk about Greek and Latin roots but rather informally. I like the idea of a personal spelling lists but students never take the time to jot down words they can't spell.
Sorry, I don't know of a good spelling program. I am starting to think that it really doesn't exist if students are motivated.
I hear what you're saying, Mshope. I feel like a deamon all the time when it comes to their writing. I don't take points off for every single assignment, just vocabulary where they are writing definitions and sentences. If they are writing an essay or answering questions, I just circle it, the same as you. Although, if it is an essay or summary, I do take points off for overall spelling etc... at the end. I believe that if I don't take points off for every misspelling , missed capitalization or punctuation, then they will think it's okay to continue to miss them and never check over their work. I can't tell you how many times I've seen words in print from adults that had poor grammar and spelling. I've been on Facebook and witnessed terrible grammar and spelling, and it drives me CRAZY!! To me, I think most spelling mistakes come from laziness to look the word up. My student have laptops and the words can be underlined in red, green, purple, whatever....and they still don't correct them. That's when I get on their case. They can hate me all they want, but I want them to be accountable for what they write.
I teach at a small private school where it's just me and another teacher teaching all the middle school language arts. We are too fustrated with the spelling of our students. I teach 5-6th and want to give them a good foundation, because still in 7-8th they aren't spelling well. Simple sight words like DOES seem to be problems for this generation. We are currently using a spelling basal like many schools, but would like to try something else. I currently teach the spelling lesson with a pretest on Mondays, assign 4-6 pages in the spelling workbook due Friday, and correct the book and give the post test on Fridays. The kids who know their words (and are typically the "good students") do well. Others don't even spell the words correctly in their Spelling workbook when the words are right in front of them, or fail to complete the assignment in the week given to them. Is this a motivation problem? Even if they do well in their spelling units, it doesn't carry over to their daily work. I don't know what it is, but it's not working. Not to mention, grading 60 spelling workbooks on Fridays (because I have to look at them to make sure their words are spelling correctly- usually they are not) is so much extra work for me.
I requested a sample of that Spelling--An Integrated Approach for Middle School by Nancy Beattie. It really sounds like a great program. Not sure if my prinicipal will approve, but I'm doing all the research now before I approach him.