Saturday, February 16, 2008

Spelling for Everyone

It’s funny how we remember some details from events. One incident that stays in my mind from my first year of teaching is the day that I gave a particular spelling test. I said each word and then followed with a sentence using the word. The students wrote the word—hopefully spelled correctly—on their papers. Circus. We saw elephants at the circus. Circus. C-i-r-c-u-s. Oops! The students—not the teacher—were supposed to spell the word! I managed to read the remainder of the spelling words that day without spelling the words for the students. But, my slip guaranteed that everyone had at least one of the words spelled correctly!

Well, it’s still important for our students to spell words correctly. And not just in spelling class. Every subject—at every grade level—has its own vocabulary. Teaching our students how to use and spell each discipline’s vocabulary is necessary. Technology can help that process.

Teachers can post their spelling words on the web site. Students can then hear the words spoken one-by-one. They can listen to sentences that use the words. They can play games using the words. And they can take practice tests.

I learned about this site on a Tech Chicks podcast. When they’re excited about a spelling site, I know I should check it out. And I am impressed!

  • can take practice tests
  • can play games (online or on paper) to help learn the words
  • do not need to register to use the site
  • can type in their own words and practice and play with them
  • can practice with existing spelling lists
  • can find their teachers’ lists and practice them
  • can print a certificate with their name and test results after they complete a practice test
  • can post their spelling lists
  • can register for free
  • can put a link on their web sites for their students
  • can sign up for a newsletter
  • can suggest words to be included in the SpellingCity database
  • can access SpellingCity’s forum
  • can import lists lists these features…
"... contains over 25,000 words, including plurals, contractions, future and past tenses
... uses a REAL human voice that says both the word and the word in a sentence
... a 'Teach Me' function that spells out the word using both visual and auditory input to improve retention
... teachers and parents can enter and save their own spelling lists for their students/children
... students can play games with their words or any saved lists
... teachers and parents can save and share their lists
... the forum allows teachers and parents to share lists and ideas"
Sample lists include…
  • grades K through 8
  • big numbers
  • dinosaurs
  • Dolch - sight words – PreK through 3
  • Harry Potter words
  • state capitals
  • states
  • words of Arabic, Dutch, French, or Greek origin
  • middle school US political terms
Interesting notes…
  • obscene words are not permitted
  • the site might be very useful for special education and ESL in addition to other classes
  • this site would work well with interactive whiteboards
  • SpellingCity knows blog but not wiki
  • it’s free is fun and useful and would work well with an interactive white board. That's quite a combination!

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