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«DOCUMENT RESUME CS 212 609 ED 326 894 Croft, Cedric AUTHOR Teachers Manual for Spell-Write: An Aid to Writing, TITLE Spelling and Word Study. Studies ...»

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CS 212 609

ED 326 894

Croft, Cedric


Teachers Manual for "Spell-Write: An Aid to Writing,


Spelling and Word Study." Studies in Education No.


New Zealand Council for Educational Research,



I5BN-0-908567-31-6; I55N-0111-2422


PUB DATE 83 33p.; For student text, see CS 212 608.

NOTE Guides - Classroom Use - Guides (For Teachers) (052)


MF01/PCO2 Plus Postage.


Elementary Education; Foreign Countries; *Spelling;


*Spelling Instruction; Vocabulary Development; *Word Study Skills; *Writi:'g Instruction New Zealand; Spelling and Writing Patterns; Spelling




This booklet is the teachers manual for "Spell-Write," a text to aid learners in writinl, spelling, and word study, and is intended to function effectively in a variety of classroom spelling and word study programs. The booklet has four main sections. An introduction discusses briefly the alphabetical spelling lists, the background to the development of "Spell-Write," and its structure. The next section, "The Concept of Spelling," examines what spelling is, spelling and writing,,ow predictable English spelling is, the role of meaning, generalizations in spelling, the development of spelling skills, word use in children's writing, spelling errors in children's writing, and published spelling lists. The third section, "Classroom Spelling Programmes," discusses how spelling programs can be organized, personal spelling lists, word study and vocabulary extension, and studying and mastering the core vocabulary of written English. The fourth section, "Evaluating Progress in Spelling," deals with evaluation and measurement, measuring spelling as an aspect of writing, measuring spelling in relation to peers, measuring spelling of individual words identified for study, and measuring spelling weaknesses before starting remedial instruction.

Eighteen references are attached, and appendixes contain the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) Survey of Writing, a list of eight speeling tests, a list of nine useful books, and acknowledgements. (SR) *********************************************************************** Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made from the original document.


-77-- c.5 Teachers Manual for Spell-Write An Aid to Writing, Spelling and Word Study Cedric Croft

–  –  –

ISBN 0-908567-31-6 ISSN 0111 2422 First printed 1983.

Re-printed 1985, 1986.

/ Printed by Hillary Court Print Ltd., Lower Hutt.


–  –  –

The Alphabetical Spelling Lists The NZCER Alphabetical Spelling Lists,' and accompanying manual Loarning to Spell,2 were prepared by the late Dr G.L. Arvidson and published in 1960 by the New Zealand Council for Educational Research. This followed a decision of the 1957 Annual Meeting of the New Zealand Educational Institute, asking NZCER to consider the desirability of preparing a spelliny list for New Zealand schools. The lists were based on a New Zealand study,3 unpublished word counts of children's writing, professional judgement of a wide range of educators, as well as research carried out overseas. The events leading up to the original publication are well documented by Parkyn's Foreword to Learning to Spell.

Background to the Development of Spell-Write

Since the publication of the Alphabetical Spelling Lists minor changes only have been introduced in response to New Zealand's change to decimal currency, so it has become increasingly apparent that it was time fo. their format and contents to be overhauled.

Accordingly, A.C. Croft undertook a survey of the spelling practices of a representative sample of 108 New Zealand primary schools,4 one of the major findings being that although 55 percent of teachers were using the basic principles as outlined in Learning to Spell, many additional practices had been introduced. It appeared as though the major uses being made of 1he lists could be strengthened by introducing changes to their structure. Moreover, when the various approaches to tho teaching of spelling were being considered, the outstandmg feaiure was the diversity of procedures being used, some of which were not well suited to the organization of the lists.5 It had also been found that, rather than basing their teaching on procedures involving the use of 'levels', many teachers were using the 'levels' concept for assessing progress in spellinn.6 In other words, spelling 'levels had become an approach to assessment, rather than an aid to teaching.

Croft' has commented on other background studies notably those of C.J. Nicholson,8 and P.S. Freyberg.8 One of Nicholson's major findings was that there had been a small decline in spelling accuracy over the period 1952-70. However, there was a difference in the number of words used, as the 1970 sample had written more than the corresponding 1952 group. When the error rate was corrected for the different number of words written, the difference was found to be a mere 0.06 percent, that is, six more spelling errors per 10,000 written words.

In his study, P.S. Freyberg5 found that the bottom 50 percent of pupils achieved less well under the approach to spelling described in Learning to Spell, and he suggested that the less able speller may benefit from a more structured word-study programme. He also pointed out that some high-frequency words, such as 'their', 'where', 'through', 'heard' are difficult to s- 1 and use, whereas some low-frequency words, such as 'rug', 'tar', 'net', are much less difficult. The difficult high-frequency words may impede progress through the 5

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Structure of Spell-Write The over-riding principle kept in mind in determining the structure of Spell-Write was flexibility. The aim was to product a text that could function effectively in a variety of classroom spelling and wo:d study programmes without being tied to any particular one.

Spell-Write has five main sections.

The 'Looking Up' or Alphabetical Section (3,200 words) Children should consult this section of the list first when they have doubts about how a word should be spelt. Recent studie:. of children's writing, which have ensured that the list contains the words children are most likely to require when writing, justify this particular use of the list. The pages in this section have guide words, as an aid to finding the word.

being looked for.

When children have learnt to use this section efficiently, they will have taken a major step towards developing independence in spelling, as they now have a strategy to apply when they are rot sure how to spell a word. In addition, mastery of the techniques of consulting an alphabetically arranged spelling list will provide children with the basic skills fa efficient use of the dictionary an objective that will be foremost in the minds of all teachers.

Place Names and Special Names Section Coming immediately after the Alphabetical Section is a page headed Place Names and Special Names. This page has been left blank, so that schools can build up and record pupils' core lists of place names and other special names of particular relevanca to their writing. The diversity of the place names that children are likely to use in their writing makes it impossible to publish a single list that will suit everybody. When children reach the stage in their writing where they begin to outgrow the lists compiled by each school, they can he introduced to more comprehensive sources of information, like the atlas or gazetteer.

If individual schools decide to prepare a core list of place names and other special names, such as Maori words, for inclusion in each child's book, it is likely to be one that will apply equally to all pupils. The devnlopment of this co..., non list could be undertaken as a cooperative venture between pupho and teachers. In order to maintain uniform standards,of presentation, and to ensure that error-free lists of common words are entered, it is recommended that typed lists be prepared and fixed into page 24 of Spell-Write.

The Essential Words For Spelling and Writing Section (230 words) In this manual, this section is referred to as the Basic Core Vocabuiary. This is a separate section listing the high-frequency core words used most often in primary children's school 6 writing, and shown by a number of major studies to be prominent in most forms of written and spoken English. These words have been arranged into 4 !ists, on the basis of information available on their frequency and usefulness. Although it is preferable to learn to use and spell these words within the context of writing, for some children the time may come when specific study of these words should pay dMdends. Teachers who wish to undertake special study of high-frequency words will find these lists invaluable for either teaching or testing purposes.

All words in the Basic Core Vocabulary are contained in the Alphabetical Section.

The More Words for Spelling and Writing Section (580 words) In this manual the fourth major section of Spell-Write :s referred to as the Extended Core Vocabulary. This section provides a basic set of words that could form the nucleus of thematic word-study programmes, or provide a list for teachers who wish to organize a spelling programme around a group of words that children often use in their writing. The words in these lists, together with the Basic Core Vocabulary. are taken from the most common 1,000 words in the writing of a representative sample of New Zealand primary children.

The thematic nature of the 52 groups of words enable a variety of classroom activities to be based on this section of the book. For example, each complete group of words, or sets of words within each group, can be used as a basis for vocabulary extension, wordbuilding exercises, or for aiding discussion of topics that pupils may write about. In addition, tho words may serve as a handy reference for writing, as well as a means of introducing children to a simple thesaurus. This is a core list of words that children have been shown to use regularly, and there is scope to extend the number of words within each group, in accordance with the characteristics of each class.

All words in the Extended Core Vocabulary are also contained in the Alphabetical Section.

Commonly Misspelt Words Section (72 words) This section consists of words that are misspelt andor misused in New Zealand children's writing. Each'word has been included tiere because of its frequency of misspelling, not because of its frequency cf use. Some words in the Essential Words for Spelling and Writing Section are misspelt as often as words in the Commonly Misspelt Words Section, but their greater frequency of use has led them to be placed in the former section.

As the Commonly Misspelt Words Ser,tion is based on frequency of misspelling or misuse, it differs from the usual 'spelling Jemons', which are usually chosen because of potential 'hard spots' rather than because significant numbers of children misspell them in their writing. This section is arranged as an alphabetical list. Teachers who wish to undertake special study of 'difficult' words which era also written fairly regulaily, will find this a useful starting point. These words also are all in the Alphabetical Section.

The Appendices include an account of the development of Spell-Write and further information about each selion of the book. A brief description of the research into New Zealand children's writing, basic to the format and contents of Spell-Write, is also,d included.

–  –  –

Spelling is an aspect of written language, so the teaching and learning of spelling must take pine as far as possible within tha context of writing. ) he emphasis should be placed on developing skills related to the uses, meanings and structures of words, rather than on developing skills of reproducing letters in a conventional sequence a more restrictive but still popular view of spelling.

The rationale and structure of Spell-Write are built arourd the following eight principles:

(1) Spelling is a skill of writing. We learn to spell in order to communicate through writing.

(2) During the early stages of learning to write in particular, developing knowledge of the meaning:, and uses of words must take precedence over skills of recalling conventional spelling.

(3) Skills of spelling and word-use are best learnt initially, and then applied and developed later, in the context of learning to write.

(4) Individual spelling programmes are needed if the diverse requirements of young writers are to be met within classrooms.

(3) There is a core writing vocabulary that must be mastered by all children, if they aro to become effective writers. If this vocabulary is not mastered as part of the process of learning to write, direct teaching may be necessary.

(6) Spelling and related word-use skills will not be picked up incidentally by all children. Most children will benefit from a properly conceived and well-structured programme of word study and spelling.

(7) Skills related to using references, proof-reading and checking writing, should be developed from the earliest stages of learning to write.

(8) The evaluation of growth in spelling ability must begin with written language, and utilize test-based information as oppropriate.

Spelling and Writing The only possible justification for learning to spell is that accurate spelling is necessary for effective writing. ff there is no need to communicate by writing, there is no need to learn to spell.

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