StarSpell 3 Spelling Guide - The Spelling Route

This Guide aims to demystify how spelling is learned. It shows smart ways to help learners, both using StarSpell and with activities away from the computer. All the practice in the Guide is based on actual classroom experience

The Spelling Route

The Spelling Route outlines 6 stages: 1) Discovering Words, 2) Preparing for Phonics, 3) Early Phonics, 4) Further Phonics, 5) Beyond Phonics and 6) Near-Correct. These are detailed below.

Discovering Words

What learners do when writing

· Learners "write" scribbles, which are beginning to look like real letters.

· They want to communicate in this "grown-up" way.

· They are enjoying some words purely for their sounds.

What learners know

· Learners know that writing is different from drawing.

· They have a dawning awareness that there are such things as letters.

· They have a dawning awareness that words are made up of separate sounds.

What learners need, in order to move on

· To have their written "messages" accepted and valued

· To watch how writing is done, and have that talked-through

· To play around, orally, with the sounds in words

· To begin to learn a few straightforward letter-sound matches that are personally important, and some letter names.

See Discovering Words - Stage 1 of the Spelling Route.

Preparing for Phonics

What learners do when writing

· Learners get some letters right when writing words.

· They often get the left-right sequence correct.

· They are confident to have-a-go at writing.

What learners know

· Learners have grasped the principle of coding: they understand that letters stand for sounds.

· They know that actual letter shapes matter; they've left letter-like shapes behind.

· Beginning to know a growing number of letter-sound matches.

What learners need, in order to move on

· To polish their skills in hearing the sounds in words

· To become sure about the left-right sequence of sounds and letters

· To learn yet more letter-sound matches

· To learn by sight some frequently-used whole words

· To work at L-S-T-C-W-C, with great care over the 'look' component.

See Preparing for Phonics - Stage 2 of the Spelling Route.

Early Phonics

What learners do when writing

· Learners write some words with 1, 2 or 3 letters, which will be mainly consonants.

· They are confident to experiment with words, seeing spelling as a problem-solving task.

What learners know

· By the end of this stage, learners know all the single letter-sound matches.

· They also know some digraphs.

· They can read and spell a good number of whole words (with words read probably outnumbering words spelled).

What learners need, in order to move on

· To practise hearing the sequence of sounds in words, and to write them in that sequence, left to right

· To learn all the most frequently occurring letter-sound matches

· To add to their word-bank of frequently-used whole words, for reading and spelling

· To work at L-S-T-C-W-C, with great care over the "look" component.

See Early Phonics - Stage 3 of the Spelling Route.

Further Phonics

What learners do when writing

· They encode almost all words directly from the way they sound, generally managing to represent every sound in the word.

· They have a positive attitude towards themselves as spellers.

What learners know

· They have acquired the ability to capture sound in spelling, and they are on course to acquire the whole phonic code.

What learners need, in order to move on

· To round off the acquisition of letter-sound matches

· To build an appreciation of the complications of the phonic code: how letters can represent different sounds, and sounds can be represented by different letters (multiple mapping)

· To look for visual spelling patterns (common sequences of letters in words)

· To work at L-S-T-C-W-C, with great care over the "look" component

· To be introduced to morphemes

· To add to their word-bank of frequently-used whole words for reading and spelling

· To begin to learn how to proof-read and edit their own writings.

See Further Phonics - Stage 4 of the Spelling Route.

Beyond Phonics

What learners do when writing

· When writing, learners employ a sense of "what looks right".

· They are complementing phonics with a growing memory bank of common visual patterns within words.

· They have a growing understanding of the value of the various kinds of morphemes.

· They are willing to take risks in their spelling.

What learners know

· Learners know that sound is not all there is to spelling.

· They are meeting morphemes.

· They are meeting spelling rules.

· They are meeting word derivations.

What learners need, in order to move on

· To continue an interest in the visual patterns of words

· To look at word meanings and derivations

· To work at discovering rules from generalisations

· To continue the use of word-banks, now often thematic

· To work at L-S-T-C-W-C, with great care over the "look" component

· To continue practising proof-reading and editing skills.

See Beyond Phonics - Stage 5 of the Spelling Route.

Near-Correct

What learners do when writing

· When writing, learners make some mistakes, but have a wide range of skills for their correction.

What learners know

· Learners put into practice what they've learned about phonics, and morphemics (and rules), and learning spellings by sight.

What learners need, in order to move on

· To focus on meaning as a guide to spelling

· To continue all the strategies that they've met over the course of their learning thus far.

See Near-Correct - Stage 6 of the Spelling Route.



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