About four weeks ago now, based on what I was observing in the writing of my students, I decided to implement weekly spelling tests. To do this, I was going to use the book I use for the daily oral language exercises and covering Spelling Killers/Slayers (i.e. there, their, and they’re), which is a book called Caught ‘Ya. However, after seeing what the other teachers used and had used, I decided to use what the other history and language arts teacher of the seventh grade uses, though the name escapes me at the moment.
The book has about a thousand of the most commonly misspelled words for middle school students. Each week/test the students are given twenty-five words, including different uses of the word, such as everyone or every one, and careful and carefully, and so on and so forth. They are supposed to study throughout the week, in a manner that they see fit (I encourage flash cards, reading them aloud and pronouncing phonetically, studying with a friend or family member, or the old standby of writing it over and over), and then take the test on Friday. How the test works is, that I read a short-story to the students and the fill in the blank, which is one of their spelling words. Then of course, they read through it and check to make sure the words are spelled right and used in the right context.
However, I can tell that many students are deciding to not read over what they have written on the test, or studying during the time given in class or at home. They do not seem to believe me, that the score the test earns, reflects the effort they put into studying. Meaning, they seem to forget that I was once a middle school student.
With this in mind, I decided to implement new studying methods in class, and I noticed, as well as the students notice, an increase in their comprehension of the words. The new methods, well not all of them were new to what we have done in class, but we have not done them as a class before, were: