Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Teacher {insert your name here}, How Do You Spell...??!!!"

Okay, I KNOW I am not the only one that hears this, right?!?!  I hear it each year in kindergarten and I also heard it in my First Grade class last year.  I caught myself saying, "Go sound it out..." or "Try your best...", but it didn't stop them asking and I knew that I was not being as effective as I could be as their teacher.  

In trying to come up with a solution, my memories flooded back to a WONDERFUL mentor teacher, Mrs. Bledsoe, I had "Back in the Day" when I was a student teacher in her second grade class.  She would have her 2nd grade students "try it" first and then she would either check it if they got it correct or spell it for them on the paper if they didn't. Then ... the BEST PART... is they kept it as a resource when that word came up again. 
Sooooooo, last year I created a little "How Do You Spell - Try It/Check It" sheet for my First Grade Smart Tarts to keep in their writing journals. I COULDN'T BELIEVE how much they a) used it & b) referred back to it!  Some of kiddos that used it the most frequently were my second language learners Smart Tarts & Smart Tarts with learning disablities.  When watching them use the Try It/Check It Sheet, it truly brought a tear to my eye b/c of how such a simple thing boosted their confidence & helped them become more successful writers.  Some of my kids had books of these front and back sheets that I kept stapling together... I mean BOOKS!  They would literally cheer when they got a checkmark b/c they had spelled the word correctly. 

The cool thing??  They would pull that reference out during science, social studies and even math if it included a writing piece.  You will, however, have to set up ground rules about how and when they use it that suits your classroom atmosphere. I allowed my Smart Tarts to slip the page to me even when in small group b/c it is really quick and I don't always have to respond verbally.... 

Here are some of my rules:
1. Be selective. You cannot put every word that you are writing in your paper on your list. 
2. Use the classroom first.  If there is a resource in the room already, you cannot add that word to your list. {sight words, color words, number words, etc...}
3. You really have to try to spell the word... i.e. not just "s" for Superman.
4. Stay honest. If you really know how to spell it, it can't go on your list.
5. Have good manners. No waving the paper in Mrs. Tomme's face! HA!!
6. Sorry, but this can't be use for spelling tests! :)

I am sure that there were other bits we discuss, but these are the main guidelines.
I really hope this builds your Smart Tarts confidence and keeps your sanity at the same time. ENJOY!

Get Your GOODIE here.


  1. What?!? Such a great tip and sooo easy to use. Thanks Nikki! We always have a few who really get into this mode and have a hard time breaking out of it.

  2. I have one little one that asks all the time. They have Word I Use When I Write which is fabulous and has many first grade words in it. I think I will try this in addition to that resources.
    Thanks so much!
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