A list of 1000 basic words forms roughly 90% of all text. Susan C. Anthony has distilled these 1000 words into a series of lists for students K-6 with the intention of fostering spelling mastery. Spelling mastery, she says, is important for a student's self-image as well as forothers' perceptions of their intelligence and attention to detail—and good spellers, she adds, are generally good writers. Straightforward and easy to implement, Spelling Plus is a good place to start your student on the path to high performance in the language arts.
How Do These Work?
The only book you need to implement this program is the Spelling Plus text. It contains a master list of all 1000 base words, and the 69 lists into which they are divided.Beside each list there are notes for the teacher to aid instruction and point our word patterns and possible problems students may encounter. In the back of the book are supplementary lists containing geographic place names, and math, geometry and astronomy terms; all 1000 base words are also grouped according to phonetic structure.
Anthony begins the book with a defense of teaching spelling mastery, followed by a brief history of the English language and comparisons of English spelling methods with those of other languages. This helps teachers understand why English spelling can be difficult and what they can do to guide students through its often murky waters. A series of more specific teaching tips will help you get started, and provide suggestions for how to offer more challenge to better spellers.
For kindergarten students there are three lists with a total of ten words; for grades 1-6 there are 11 lists per grade, each with 15 words. The difficulty increases with each list, so students start with words like "an" and "it," and progress to "peculiar" and "mischievous." Students are also supposed to pick five words on their own to add to every list, for a total of 20 words per list. Anthony stresses practicing every day, and integrating words from previous lists on a regular basis to keep every word fresh in students' memories.
It would be easy to have students write their daily lists on a separate piece of paper, but just in case you want to cut out a step you can have kids use the Spelling Plus Workbook which simply provides ready-to-use worksheets for recording spelling lists. A Personal Dictionary contains the 1000 base words, as well as one blank page for each letter of the alphabet with lines for students to write words they encounter that they don't know.
A Dictation Book offers a series of dictation exercises corresponding to each of the 69 spelling lists; teachers read the sentences and students write them at the rate of four per day. Anthony emphasizes the importance of dictation as a tool for cementing words in students' minds as well as teaching them to retrieve information quickly and improve memory retention. The Homophones Resource Book is a worktext designed to help students distinguish between forms. Each lesson contains 20 sentences with blanks in which students write the correct word; answers to all exercises are in the front of the book.
This is an excellent starting place for teaching spelling, though not as phonetically-based as many would prefer. The constant review really instills the words in kids' minds, though it also fosters something of a sight-based approach. Because the words taught are so fundamental, Spelling Plus would make an excellent remedial course; if you're using it as your primary spelling curriculum we suggest you add words of your own to the lists so students aren't as restricted. Because it is so inexpensive and easy to use,and because moststudents don't require toomuchspelling instruction, Spelling Plus is a solid place to begin or a good place to fall back to when your student is struggling.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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