Thursday, April 5, 2012

Finding a Groove in Spelling with Ben

This is our second year working through The Wise Guide, a spelling program that accompanies Spell to Write and Read. Generally speaking, people either love SWR (as it is lovingly called) or not. Those who love it:

  • Usually can afford the time and money to attend a training seminar
  • Appreciate the fact that it tries to make sense out of a seemingly nonsensical language 
  • Like that you purchase one kit for all your children for all their academic years
  • Like learning along with their children the intricacies of English.
Along the same lines, people who end up not caring for this program:
  •  Usually want something easier to teach (like an open-and-go  program)
  • Find that the learning curve is just too steep for their life circumstances
  • Don't care for some of the "antiquated" ideas about the English language.
Please, don't hold any of this to a candle -- this is just my observations from online forum discussions and other conversations with homeschoolers.

I decided to switch to SWR because I realized I needed something more systematic and comprehensive to use with my (then) 5th grade, 1st grader and preKer.  I liked that I only had to buy one kit and be set for life (more or less).  And I knew that over time, I'd get the hang of it, despite the fact that there were no local training classes (the nearest one was  2 or so states away).

The main reason I'm writing this post is to shed some light on How We Are Using SWR With a 7th Grader.  My goal is to be able to make it through all the spelling lists by the end of this school year.  Depending on Ben's performance in this last two months of school, we'll decide how to use the program in 8th grade but I really, really need to be done with this program this year so that I can teach spelling to Levi next year.  As much as I really like the program, I do not see how I could teach this program to three separate kids and continue to use our other curriculum at the same time!

So here is what I am doing:

1.  I dictate 10 words to Ben approximately 3 times a week.  That is 30 words per week.
2.  After dictating the 10 words, I immediately give Ben a quiz on those words.  Any that he misses (or any words that were hard for him during the dictation) get put on a fancy piece of paper that says "Trouble Words."
3.  After quizzing Ben on the new words, I quiz him on a randomly selected number of additional words on the "Trouble Words" list.  I'm not sure why, but  decided that he needs to spell the word correctly three times in a row before it can be added to the"Mastered" list on the bottom half of the page. Thankfully, this seems to be working.
4.  If he is really having a hard time with a word, we break it down, discuss the error pattern and then I fall back to the boring technique of writing the word multiple times.  My thinking, though, is based on some motor memory and re-auditorizing the word in his head as he writes it.  This, too, seems to work for him as well.

I do not feel bad at all that we've veered from the traditional presentation of SWR.  He's still getting all the basics.  I'm even finding that we are having more time to work on derivations of our spelling words -- especially practice adding suffixes to his words.

Although he will only have gone through this last part of SWR once (Mrs. Sanseri recommends going through all the lists twice),  I am feeling confident that his spelling is impoving.  Next year I'll likely do something online for him -- something I do not have to manage.  We have reviewed before and there is another site called that I would consider.  

1 comment:

Julieanne said...

We've used SWR for years now (my oldest is 14), and we've been blessed to take several training classes with Wanda Sanseri, herself! (She lives just a few hours from us.)

The program is amazing in all that it actually teaches children AND adults! I know that some people really don't prefer to use SWR, because it is a bit more teacher-intensive in the first few weeks, but once the parent gets the hang of it, they are set. I never needed to do lesson plans after the first few weeks, because it was so straightforward.

I taught a near-18-year-old young man how to read last summer, using SWR. His mom had used just about every reading program under the sun, and nothing worked. I told her I would tutor him for free if she would go to Wanda's Basic Training seminar with me (and her son), and we would work through the materials together. I also had her take her son to an optometrist who believed that sometimes, vision therapy can help those who have serious visual tracking disorders.

She did those two things, and he DID have a serious visual tracking disorder. Once he worked through a special computer program twice, to help him correct his visual problems, then he was ready to begin to learn to read. She sold all of their reading curricula and began using SWR, and she really likes the depth of the program.

My oldest daughter will compete next weekend in our county spelling bee, her last year to do so. She has come in second place twice, so she hopes to win this year! I give the credit to SWR. Love the program!