SPELLING : NECESSARY OR SUPERFLUOUS?
There are some who say that attention the spelling is old hat and the discipline of being able to spell accurately and correctly is not really necessary anymore.
In an age of computer technology, they argue that the computer, iPads and similar gadgets provide students with correct spelling options through “spellcheck” and other text refining devices. Therefore it is not necessary to know how to spell words by heart any longer.
Others argue that in terms of priority spelling is a basic that no longer needs to be taught. There are other teaching and learning priorities.
Maybe “experts” believe that spelling skills will be aquired by osmosis. Some people genuinely believe that spelling accuracy isn’t important because corrections for both spelling and grammar can be provided by checks built into attachments for word documents and others. I believe that is the lazy way out.
I once had a teacher say to me “I don’t teach spelling because I don’t like it.” Teaching basics is apparently boring and quite stifling for some people. This overlooks the fact that teaching important basic understanding this is repetitious and not all learning is tinsel and glitter. However, there is a way of engaging children with spelling that makes it quite exciting and a looked forward to activity. There are numerous spelling games available that can be adapted for classroom use. These can be developed to support and reinforce graduated learning where the specific spelling word building an extension program is being followed.
Spelling and word appreciation games up also available and this is one area where computer or iPad use can be reinforcing. My contention however is that spelling is an area that requires basic teaching. It can’t all be left to children working on devices and acquiring the understanding they need without teaching going into the program.
An example of one game are used with spelling was to ask children within their minds to configure words broken into syllables attached to a piece of elastic. There is the word. As you stretch the elastic within your minds eye, the word breaks into syllables. The study of the breaks enables one to follow the patterning of the word. When the word had been “examined” the stretched elastic is relaxed, the word comes back together and is spelled orally as an intact unit. I found this method worked particularly well especially if it was built into a game including competition between children for accuracy and recall.
There are plenty of other games that can make spelling a fun learning experience. They are helped by teacher engagement and involvement in the process.
I believe we neglect spelling at our peril and to the eternal loss of students.