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An Inquiry into Words and Spelling

-by Abby Saadeh

In an Inquiry based environment, we get excited and enveloped in our questions and ideas. At Connect Charter we want to take these opportunities to incorporate Spelling into our explorations and develop skills into our practice. Together with the Grade 4 Humanities team, we identified a need to develop some ideas on how to approach Spelling. I gave the students a Spelling Questionnaire that would give me more information about how they felt about Spelling and what they thought about themselves as Spellers. From the information gathered, I came up with the first discussion question, “What is Spelling?” And, “If we made Spelling important, what would it look like?” This is what the students came up with.

Class Brainstorm
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Next, we discussed words that they found interesting or were curious about because of the way they sounded or simply by the way they looked or how they sounded. I encouraged them to talk to each other about words that they found difficult, words that they continuously spelled wrong, or words that they spelled wrong in their previous assignments. We decided that we could get the words from anywhere, as long as they give reasons why they chose them, it could be from their writing, reading, signs, television...anywhere. We came up with a list of words that answered these questions and began to explore them.




Here is our first list:

We decided as a class that we would have to document our work in the places we did our writing. Some students chose their writing notebooks and others chose their iPads. We decided that because according to the class: Spelling is Writing, Spelling is Vocabulary, Spelling is Comprehension, and Spelling is a part of speech.

After the 2nd class, it was clear that we had to begin to choose words from our lists that focused on a specific pattern to use our time most effectively. By doing this, were able to study both the words ‘function’ and ‘comprehension’ on the list. We could also begin to learn about homonyms, idioms, and all around etymology. The next step was discovering the different kinds of Spelling strategies and begin to use them in our day to day work. We started with ‘function’. With this word we would explore all of it’s characteristics.



ie. function 
discuss meaning 
it starts with ‘func’ and ends with a ‘tion’ sound 
it has multiple definitions 
‘tion’ could be ‘sion’ or ‘cean’ 
There are 5 consonants and 3 vowels 
There are 2 “n”s 
There are 2 syllables in the word 

Spelling Strategies: 
  •  You MUST CARE! 
  •  Always try your best the first time 
  •  If you aren’t sure about the word, mark it right away 
  •  ask someone 
  •  explore sounds find it in a dictionary 
  •  knowing the ‘rules’ ie. j, g, dge
  •  roots ie. prefixes, suffixes 
  •  recognize your ‘troublemaker’ words, which ones do you often spell wrong? 
  • break into syllables ie. Wed-nes-day 
  • words within words or contractions Look at it, Say it, Write it, Check it 
  • Read over your work, ONLY focusing on spelling 
  • Have a peer and an adult look over your words 
  • word tricks ie. dessert and desert. One example a student came up with was. Dessert has 2 ss’s like strawberry shortcake and desert has one ‘s’ like sand 
  • memorization strategies ie. write it, check it and think, try again, check again, repeat if needed
This is our inquiry into Spelling so far and I look forward to sharing our next steps in the near future.

1 comments:

  1. Abby, I appreciate how you used the student survey feedback to share their feelings about spelling and to engage them in a process of exploring different approaches to spelling and developing through inquiry, strategies to build confidence in themselves and improve their spelling skills.

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