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Differentiated Spelling Ideas

Found in: differentiated learning instruction; spelling

Over the years, I have created a differentiated spelling program based on Diane Snowball's publications on how to teach spelling. I use a basic list of words that are spelling patterns that fifth graders are required to know. I pre-test the entire class at the same time. Students try to find the pattern as I provide each word. The student who can figure out the pattern for the week receives a reward. I then check the words and return the lists to the students to correct. The words students spelled incorrectly are then written into a spelling wordbook they are required to keep.

We then brainstorm new words using the same pattern. Students can ‘read the room’, use rhyme, or look up words in the books they read or in dictionaries. Students then choose a favorite word they want to learn and is an appropriate 'fifth grade word' word, and it becomes a spelling word. As the students provide the words, I write them on a poster board. Students choose words according to how much challenge they desire. Each student ends with 20 words to learn for the week. Each has his/her own list.

I do this each Monday. It only takes about 40 minutes. I give them different assignments each night as well as a packet due at the end of the week. Example activities are word searches, pattern finds, read and find the pattern for the week in an article from a magazine, etc. Each Friday, students test each other on their own words. This program has helped me tremendously with scheduling time constraints. The children all feel successful and become acquainted with our language and vocabulary.


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