Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Struggles With Spelling Words

Is helping your child study for spelling tests one of your most UN-Favorite tasks each week? Wouldn't it be great if we were all born with a built-in spell checking system? (Tip from Stowell Learning Center).

Fortunately, we're born with some natural skills that help with spelling. One of the key ones is called Visual Memory.

For some, however, that skill doesn't fully develop in the memory system, and so a little help is needed to be able to 'see it.'

The exercise below will help anyone improve with  memorizing spelling words, and it will also begin to aid in developing a better visual memory.

Homework Problem: 
Struggles With Spelling Words   

Sometimes students struggle to spell words. Other times it seems as if they can spell them at home but then somehow "lose" the spelling when it comes time to take the test.

When a student has weak visual memory, remembering math facts, the exact spelling of words, what homework was assigned, or even what was just read, can lead to daily frustrations and poor grades.

Being able to spell properly affects reading and writing, so here is one method to begin training the visual memory system to see and remember what words look like.
Homework Solution: 
Learning to SEE The Words

DON'T worry about how many steps there are to this technique. It's actually not as overwhelming as it first looks!

For this activity, you'll need:
Lined paper, pencils, a black or dark blue dry-erase marker, and either a hand-held white board or a piece of plain white paper in a page protector.

1. Begin by folding a sheet of the lined paper in half lengthwise. This will create four separate panels, two on the back and two on the front. Now you have room to write your words four separate times, but don't write them yet.

2. You (the parent) write their first spelling word on the white board or on the sheet protector using the dry erase marker.

3. Show your child the word you've written and talk about it using questions, such as:

a.  How many letters does it have?
b.  What sounds are in the word?
c.  What sound does it start with?
d.  What sound does it end with?
e.  What letters make those sounds?
f.   How many vowels do you see?
g.  Are there any capital letters?
h.  Can you "sound spell" the word?
     (Use the letter sounds instead
     of names to
spell the word.)
4. Have them spell the word out loud while looking at it.

5. Ask them to close their eyes, 'see' the word in their mind and spell it out loud from what they 'see.'

6. Have them open their eyes and write their spelling word on the first panel of their paper, without looking at the word.

7. Ask them if it sounds right and if it looks right.

8. Show them the word again and have them compare what they wrote to what they saw. If they spelled it correctly, move on to the second word, etc.

If they spelled it incorrectly, have them flip to a new panel (so they can't see the word they just spelled) and review steps 3-6 until they are able to spell it correctly. Having the four panels gives them an opportunity to spell the word several times until they get it right.

9. As soon as they spell it correctly, stay on the current panel and continue to the next word. (You will NOT end up with a complete list of words on any one panel.)

10. Repeat these steps for each spelling word they have to study.

Remember, this isn't just "drill." It's not repeating over and over. It's building the skills that help visual memory to get stronger. Think of it as weight lifting for spelling. It will take doing the exercise several times (over several weeks) to make that "muscle" stronger.

DON'T GIVE UP on this technique. As time goes on, the better their visual memory skills will become...and the faster they'll get at memorizing those spelling words.

My child doesn't understand their homework

Another great tip from Stowell Learning Center when your child doesn't understand their homework. 

You've got your son (or daughter) sitting down doing homework. All the distractions have been removed. He's had a snack, gone to the bathroom, and is focused on the task at hand.

BUT, he just doesn't "get it."

You explain.

He really tries. 

But he still isn't able to break through to real understanding. It doesn't matter if the assignment is reading a chapter and answering questions, memorizing spelling words, or filling in a worksheet.

When you don't get it...you just don't get it!
Below you'll find a 3-step sequence to try when, after getting organized and focused, he still doesn't "get it."
Three Strategies to Try When You Don't "Get It"

  1. Let him teach you (or someone else) everything he knows about this assignment. Sometimes teaching it reveals clarity and answers. Explain it to a younger sibling. Teach the family dog. Explain it to a friend.

    Just get him thinking from the teacher's view. This shift in perspective may give him the answer he needs.

  2. Explain everything he DOES know about it. OK, so he doesn't know the answer to question number two. But how much of the answer does he know?

    He can't spell a word...how much of it CAN he spell? Can he get the first letter, the first two letters? How far can he get?

    At this point, focus on what he does know, NOT what he doesn't know. Finding out what he does know may give you some real insight in getting him to what he doesn't know.

  3. List what he DOESN'T know. This is sometimes very revealing. Have him tell you, SPECIFICALLY, what he doesn't know or understand.

    Students, in frustration, often say they don't get "any of it." But that is seldom true. It's time to get specific.

    Is he unclear about what the question is asking? Or is he unclear as to what the answer is? What part of the answer is missing?

    Does he not know that first letter of the word? What letters is he "missing" from the spelling words?

    Can he get the math facts for the 7's but not the 8's? Is it all the 8's or just a specific group?

    Make a list of what isn't known. Sometimes, the question isn't understood and this exercise will help bring that out much better than asking,"Do you understand the question?"

    This will help "zero in" on what pieces are missing.

Use any of the strategies whenever you find yourself at a "homework roadblock."

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

improve spelling test

Successful tips for improving spelling scores from Stowell Learning Center. Feel free to sign-up for email tips on their website.

For most elementary  school students, spelling tests happen every week.  Often this is a very discouraging "exercise in frustration."  

Because many times spelling is the clue that there are auditory processing issues.   Auditory processing skills can be trained through special programs that are far more than just "drilling" spelling words.
Until  those issues can be eliminated, below you'll find a technique that will help any student who has to study spelling words.  It won't fix auditory processing difficulties, but it will help to get through this week's spelling test.
Here's to having the best school year ever,

Jill Stowell

Homework Tip
Homework Problem: 
Studying Spelling Words (Part 1)  
There are several strategies for studying spelling words.  
Many students have difficulty remembering spelling words.  Here is one easy, practical approach to studying for spelling words.
Homework Solution: 
Impress Spelling

Impress Spelling Technique -  
  1. Write each of your child's spelling words on an index card in large print.
  2. Have your child trace each word using a thick crayon, pressing firmly as she writes each letter.  
  3. Have her put down the crayon and trace over the letters with her finger as you say them together. 
  4. Have her "take a picture" in her mind of the card so that she can look up and still see the letters. 
  5. Have your child trace over the visualized word, saying each letter as she traces it. 
  6. Play with the word - ask: What color are the letters? What is the first letter?  What is the last? 
  7. Have her spell the word from her visualized image, pointing to each letter as she says it. 
  8. Move the visualized image back to the paper and write the word exactly as she remembered it.
This technique uses the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels to anchor the word and it's spelling.  This technique sometimes seems to parents that it will take longer.  Getting prepped may be a bit longer, but this system is very effective at getting those words "down cold" in about the same amount of time most students spend studying.