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Find The Right Fit: Some Spelling Programs Don't Work

I’ve used several different spelling programs. Why haven’t they worked?

If you have tried spelling program after spelling program with no real success, then you know first hand that not all programs work for all types of spellers. The English language has a lot of rules and the rules have a lot of exceptions. Many spelling programs ask students to search for patterns within words. These patterns can be very abstract for struggling spellers because generally the reason for the pattern (the spelling rule) isn’t explained. Some examples include: CVC, CCVC, CVCe, CVCC, etc. These are confusing for struggling spellers because merely identifying a pattern does not build understanding. Instead this promotes memorization and confusion. Struggling spellers do not learn to spell simply by memorizing, like many of their peers do. Other times, spelling programs present too much information at one time. The long “I” sound can be spelled several different ways depending on the word it’s in. If all of these patterns are introduced at the same time it will confuse the student because it’s too much information to master at once.

If you search spelling rules online, you will find a lot of resources and programs. But, which resources are the best, most reliable, and accurate? Even if you have that determined, what is the best way to present/teach a rule based system of spelling? It’s one thing to have the content that needs to be taught. It’s a completely different skill to teach the material in a way that builds understanding and allows students to learn without become confused or overwhelmed.

Next Friday we will post 7 Research Based Tips for choosing a spelling program that WILL work for struggling spellers.

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