Phonics and Spelling Worksheets Part 2


Part two in any “Not This, But that” book is all about the research.  In this text there are 40 pages of research that supports NOT doing weekly whole class list or phonics worksheets.  In fact, the research proves over and over again that spelling dependent upon memorization does not work.

Here is SOME of the research cited in this chapter:

  • Read (1971) showed that children’s inventive spellings, which were previously thought to be done in random, showed phonetic sensitivity and logic.
  • Beers and Henderson (1977) students’ uncorrected spelling attempts provide a window into their understanding.
  • Henderson (1990) found students acquire specific spelling features in a developmental progression that builds on language concepts related to sound and meaning.
  • Schlagal (2002) found that most classes contain a range of at least 3 developmental spelling levels.
  • Morris et al. (1995) found that whole-group spelling instruction was particularly ineffective for the bottom third of the class, while students who were provided differentiated spelling did better not only on posttests but also on unstudied words.
  • Jean Chall (1983) found that about the 4th grade, words in children’s textbooks change from mostly familiar to more unfamiliar and abstract content-specific or academic meanings that exceed their oral vocabulary knowledge.

The research shows that students’ phonics and spelling knowledge follows a predictable developmental continuum and the authors argue that to teach these topics well teachers must identify where students are and then give them instruction that moves them to the next level of achievement.  Interestingly the book stated that qualitative spelling inventories are similar and listed a variety of assessments for teachers to choose from.

What we need to know about spelling development:

  • Students’ spelling confusions relate to the elements of sound, pattern, and meaning. p. 21
  • Tiers of Orthographic Word Knowledge:
    1. The Alphabetic/Sound Tier p. 22
    2. The Pattern Tier p. 25
    3. The Meaning Tier p. 26
  • It is estimated that as few as 4% of English words are truly irregular. p. 30
  • Linguistic approaches that incorporate reflection and discussion on various aspects of language and orthography are not only superior in teaching students to spell specific words, but linguistic approaches also give students the knowledge to spell new words they had not yet studied. p. 32
  • Ask, don’t tell students how words work. p. 34
  • 10 guiding principals for word study:
    1. Look for what students “use but confuse”
    2. A step backward is the first step forward
    3. Use words students can read
    4. Compare words “that do” with words “that don’t”
    5. Sort words by sound, sight, and meaning
    6. Begin with obvious contrast first
    7. Don’t hide exceptions
    8. Avoid teaching with rules
    9. Work for fluency and flexibility
    10. Link word study to reading and writing
  • The golden rule of word study:  Teaching is not telling p. 48

From reading this second section it is clear that the third section of this text will be focused on how to effectively implement Word Study in the classroom.




One thought on “Phonics and Spelling Worksheets Part 2

  1. Laura B says:

    “It is estimated that as few as 4% of English words are truly irregular.” This makes me want to giggle! It’s so exciting! 😀


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