Today, I was appalled as I read the front page of my local Newspaper. The article was titled, "Are our kids still learning the basics?" It went on to say that many parents are unhappy about the lack of weekly spelling test, grammar worksheets and multiplication time table sheets. That students need more "drill them" activities that they don't get at school anymore.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, May 13, 2013 4 comments
Will only drill and pain and repetition make our students good spellers? When I was in school, I was afraid of making spelling mistakes. I remember getting my papers back with red slashes through all of my work and feeling that sinking feeling of despair because I felt that I was not a good speller.
In my classroom, I encourage inventive spelling and we celebrate our efforts in sounding out and spelling our words. Instead of drill and kill in my classroom, we learn about spelling patterns and hypothesizing about words through word games, word activities on our iPads, and reading and questioning vocabulary. Spelling is a developmental process and if we continually correct our little ones they won't want to try. We focus on our ideas in my classroom rather than if the words are spelled correctly. This has resulted in grade 1 and 2 students who love to write. They see writing as fun and purposeful and know that we save correcting our writing pieces to the pieces we are going to publish. When we do spelling corrections we do them one on one or in small groups and talk about why certain words are spelled that way. Students also learn strategies to help them spell words for the next time they write that word.
Instead of spoon feeding my students, they are active learning participants who love to read, think, question and challenge each other.
Just today, I brought in 2 jars with tadpoles. Within 5 minutes of sharing what I brought in, I had at least 15 books on frogs spread across the carpet and students were researching how to take care of tadpoles. They were making connections, questioning, inferring, determining importance and synthesizing information while being engaged and working on a real life question that was important to them. As the nutrition bell rang, my students kept working because they wanted to make sure that we knew how to take care of our new tadpoles. In half an hour they knew how to feed them, learned about how to replace the oxygen in the water, the life cycle of the frog and showed their thinking by making lists, webs and blogging their findings.
Now, Instead of our inquiry about tadpoles, I could have gone over a list of 10 to 20 spelling words and had them write them out 5 times each or had them write them in a sentence in the same amount of time. However, I think teaching kids to think and foster the active use of knowledge is a lot more meaningful and important.