Action Research Report
Effect of Direct Instruction of Spelling Rules on the Improvement of Spelling Accuracy Karen James
Boiling Springs Intermediate School
Boiling Springs, South Carolina
The effect of direct spelling rules instruction on students’ achievement was investigated. Pre- and post-student spelling test, surveys and teacher observations were used to record changes in attitudes and academics.
In this study, I investigated how the direct instruction of specific spelling rules into my 5th grade language curriculum would impact my students’ attitude towards spelling and their ability to apply the rule and correctly spell commonly misspelled words. My motivation for focusing on spelling was a direct result in the poor performance on PASS testing in the area of conventions as well as observing the same poor performance in students’ classroom writing.
According to Dilts (1997) Spelling is an important and fundamental language skill that does not come "naturally" to everyone. In fact, intelligent people who otherwise excel in the classroom, even in language abilities, may experience strong and even debilitating difficulties in spelling. According to NLP ability with spelling is not a function of some kind of 'spelling gene' but rather the structure of the internal cognitive strategy one is using as one spells. Thus, if people experience difficulty with spelling, it is not because they are 'stupid,' 'lazy' or 'learning disabled' but rather because they are trying to use an ineffective mental program. Good spelling is function of learning how to learn new words. As a specific mental capability spelling is subject to be influenced by deeper psychological processes such as beliefs and identity issues. To become more confident and accurate students must know the process for how to learn new spelling words.
I wanted to teach students the “trick” (rules) that would give them the tools needed to spell some commonly misspelled words. Groff (1996) states there are movements to simplify spelling. Those in the field of research regarding spelling are in much debate about current practices. With so much debate on the subject of spelling, I devised my own method to determine a strategy to improve spelling. In this study my students had direct spelling rule instruction based on commonly misspelled word. I compiled the students’ sampled misspelled words; then chose the words most students missed. I focused on three specific rules: I before e, adding endings to one syllable CVC pattern, and two syllable CVC pattern with stress on first syllable and those words with stress on second syllable. THE RESEARCH
Each year students come to my classroom with little knowledge of grammar, especially spelling. This lack of understanding of how letters form words is a great concern for student writing and communication. “If spelling is poor and careless, communication suffers; for either the reader is constantly held up through having to puzzle out what a word is or is positively misinformed.” (Peters) The argument is that technology will solve the spelling dilemma; however technology is not without error.
In 1960 teachers thought spelling occurred by accident. Instruction was based on a “as need basis”. The theory believed was that spelling was part of the creative process and would just naturally occur. But as teachers know, not all children will ‘catch’ it. By the 1980’s a new strategy of spelling instruction was implemented. “Success” as it was called believed students should just spell however; they believed a word to be spelled. Teachers were not to correct the student but guide them some way to the correct spelling without crushing their creativeness. I remember being in college and thinking this is the craziest strategy. Wise teachers will see the need to implement conventional spelling strategies while interacting with student writing. No one is going to learn how to spell. As I teach my...
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