|Spell to Write & Read|
Before I could even digest how CM would conquer teaching spelling I myself had to actually understand it. I had to learn what the difference between whole language and phonics. I had to know what was meant by such fancy words as diphthong and phonogram. You see, I could spell. I don't remember ever learning phonics. I'm sure I learned something when I was little but I had no memory of it. I am the type of speller who can "see" the word and knows if it's right or wrong. So you can imagine my frustration when my then 6th grader (fresh home from public school) could not spell to save her life.
I clearly remember asking her, "Don't you see the word?" Her response was a resounding no!
What? How can this be? Everyone sees the word, right? Ah one of the first true lessons in becoming a teacher to my children. And so I began my spelling journey. In order to be a better teacher, I was going to have to immerse myself in spelling. I was going to have to become a better communicator. I was going to have to meet her where she was at. It didn't take long for me to find a curriculum that would help become my guide on this journey. I didn't want her to just be able to memorize words. We had been down that road and it wasn't working. She could get a list on Monday, test perfectly on Friday, and never remember how to spell it. We had to take drastic measures.
The first two years she and I both were learning side by side. I was finally understanding why we changed y to i when making a word plural. I learned why we have a silent final E at the end of the word little. A whole new world was opening up to me and I realized that the English language did indeed make sense and I could truly teach this subject. My confidence grew and I was ready to take on more.
We had spent time building a foundation. Now it was time to add another layer. First we began with accountability. When misspelling words we began to keep track of these words.
- One page per phonogram. If the phonogram had more than one sound we had a colomn for each sound on the page.
- One page per spelling rule. We used the Chart Masters to help create this section.
- Each time we had a misspelled word we went to the notebook and she would put it in under the phonogram or spelling rule that she had missed.
From here we began to incorporate Charlotte Mason's method of dictation. I asked her to choose a book that she loved. She chose Pride & Prejudice. Each week, I would select a passage and she would copy it in to a composition notebook. We discussed the words that we thought might be difficult to spell and analyzed them using the SWR method. Tuesdays and Wednesdays were her responsibility to study the passage and the words. On Thursday she and I would sit down for dictation. I would read the passage and she would write them down in her notebook. When the passage was completed, I gave her a moment to look over her work and punctuate where needed.
Then she was asked to check her dictation. The original copy and a highlighter were given to her to accomplish this task. When she came to a misspelled word or an incorrect punctuation she was asked to highlight it. On Fridays, she logged these words in to her notebook and we verbally went over the grammar errors.
Soon we began to see several rewards. First we went from, "Mom how do you spell...?" to "Mom, do you spell it this way...?" to "Never mind, I know it." This was a huge thing. She was finally seeing the word! Secondly we were able to isolate what phonetic sounds, spelling rules, etc. were giving her a hard time. This gave us a clearer picture of what to work on.
One of the big takeaways I got from reading Charlotte's work is that children need to build relationships with the words and have a mental picture of it as well. By using a favorite story my daughter already had the relationship with the words. That left us just needing to build the image in her mind's eye.
I don't think we would have been successful if I too had not built a relationship with the subject we were teaching.