"Teacher, how do you spell ______?"
Is it just me, or is that question like nails on a chalkboard to you? How do we deal with this age-old question our students ask us a million times every day? As teachers, we know that spelling isn't our main focus during writing time. We know the importance of invented spelling, students applying what they know about letter sounds and spelling patterns, and stretching words out.
However, instead of simply telling students to "stretch it out and write what you hear" and sending them back to their seats, we need to give our students more concrete resources and tools so that they don't feel like we've just rejected them. I want to empower my students by giving them the tools and the resources they need so that they can be independent writers.
One of my favorite tools in my classroom is my Word Wall. There are some gorgeous word walls out there in Pinterest-Land, but for me, a word wall needs to be first and foremost FUNCTIONAL. I want my word wall to be accessible to my students so that they can easily take words down. In order to make this happen, I put all of my word wall cards on a ring and hang them from hooks on my whiteboard.
I also encourage my students to use the other visuals in the classroom like anchor charts and posters when stuck on a word. Here is one of my friends who independently made the connection between the literary essay unit to the current persuasive essay unit, took out this anchor chart, and copied down one of the sentence starters. This was, by far, one of the proudest moments I've ever had as a teacher!
Another tool we use is these Give it a Try booklet. Students love it because they're not messing up their story, and teachers love it because their students are still using what they know about letter sounds and spelling patterns to stretch out words. It's super easy to use. If a student is stuck on a word, they try to write it three different ways in their booklet. Then they bring it to me, and I will either circle the correctly spelled attempt or write the word on the right side of the dark vertical line.
HERE to get a FREE copy!
Speaking of dictionaries, my students also keep their SUPER SPELLER in their writing folders. It has frequently used words for every letter of the alphabet, as well as color words, number words, and family words. Because I can't even tell you how many times I've been asked how to spell the word "cousin" in the last 11 years!
HERE to check it out!
What else do you do in your classroom to guide your students to be independent writers?