Our classroom uses the research based Sitton Spelling program. The Sitton Spelling philosophy is that words aren't really "mastered" until they are spelled correctly in everyday writing. Many students can memorize words for a "Friday Test," but if there is no transfer to student writing, what's the point? Fourth graders are responsible to learn "core words" from the list of 1200 words most used in everyday writing. Words are arranged on the list in the order of frequency of use in everyday writing, and fourth graders should be responsible for knowing 1-500. In addition, words on the "No Excuses" (Priority Word List) are words that should have 100% mastery for fourth graders.
We will teach spelling lessons and strategies such as spelling rules, phonics, word patterns etc. Students will have classroom assignments to practice their spelling skills in context. Visual skills are developed and practiced such as proofreading. Each week for homework, students will work on five of the words on their "personal list" that need to be learned. Students will add words to this personal list as the words are spelled incorrectly in their everyday work. Parents can help by becoming their child's personal spelling editor and assisting with spelling. While the core word list may look easy, remember that these words are the words that might be misspelled or used incorrectly in everyday written work.
Students are assessed using their everyday writing. Random checks will be made to classroom assignments could be graded for spelling - science, social studies, language arts, math. In addition, a "cloze story" test is given in which students listen to a passage read by the teacher and fill in the missing words in the story. These words come from the core word and priority word lists. Sentence dictation tests are also given. The teacher reads four sentences, and the students write the sentences including using the correct punctuation. Again, nearly every word in the sentence dictation comes from the core word or "no excuses" priority word list.
Thank you, Mrs. Heather Renz, for her succinct description of the Sitton Spelling program. Check her out here.