Thursday, May 15, 2008


The purpose of this blog is to share interesting ideas I have found in American professional publications dealing with the teaching of English at all levels, elementary, secondary and college.

Topic: Spelling Big Words (Elementary/Middle School)

Title: “Spelling in Parts: A Strategy for Spelling and Decoding Polysyllabic Words.” Debbie A. Powell and Roberta Aram. The Reading Teacher (April 2008), 567-570. A publication of the International Reading Association.

Summary: Teach students to break the big words into syllables and note spelling problems in the syllables.

Comment: Breaking long words into syllables is a no-brainer. Students will probably be able to spell the individual syllables because they can be sounded out.

If the syllable has a tricky spelling to it, you might try Harry Shefter’s idea in Six Minutes a Day to Perfect Spelling: “Blow up,” i.e., enlarge, the “trouble spot—“cEmEtEry.” Shefter also suggests making up a silly association to help visualize the trouble spot: “ ‘EEE!’ she screamed as she passed the cEmEtEry.”

Essentially Shefter recommends that people turn the little word within the long word into an association, but it often breaks up the syllable: “argument” becomes ar gu ment, but the trouble spot is arGUMent and “Never chew GUM in an arGUMent.” It’s a technique that works. I found that students could handle both the syllabication and the association, even though it breaks up the syllabication. RayS.

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