These stages describe children’s spelling behavior as they move from one level of word knowledge to the next. The stages make it easier to understand and recognize the basic strategies that children use to spell.
Emergent Spelling- (On-Level Kindergarten)
During this stage children learn to recognize and write the words and letters of the alphabet. They play with the sounds in words and letters. Most of the sound play focuses on beginning and rhyming sounds.
Letter Name Alphabetic Spelling (Beginning-Middle 1st grade)
At the beginning of this stage, children apply THE alphabet principles primarily to consonants. By the end of the stage, children are able to represent most short vowel patterns, consonant digraphs, and consonant blends correctly.
Within Word Pattern Spelling (End of 1st-On-Level 2nd)
Children at the beginning of this stage spell most single-syllable, short vowel words correctly. Then children move away from the sound-by-sound approach of the letter name and begin to include patterns or chunks of letter sequences that relate to sound and meaning. They also begin to use long vowel words.
Syllables and Affixes Spelling (End of 2nd-On-Level 3rd)
By this stage, children already spell most one-syllable short and long vowel words correctly. The focus of instruction shifts to mulisyllabic words and patterns. They work on specific vowel combinations, inflected ending (including plurals, -ing, and –ed) and vowel patterns in accented syllables.
I give the children a test every quarter called The Quantitative Spelling Inventory. This test lets me know what spelling patterns they already know and which ones they need to work on. After scoring this test I put them in spelling developmental groups. By using this method, no child will be tested on words at their frustrational level. This is also how I determine which sorts the children are to work on throughout the week and which ones to send home for homework. I want the children to develop word knowledge through word study (word study includes sorts and making words).
“Students need hands-on experience comparing and contrasting words by sound, so they can categorize similar sounds and associate them consistently with letters and letter combinations.”
I give occasional Spell Checks to make sure that they are learning the spelling patterns correctly. Research expresses that just as reading on instructional levels vary among students in a single classroom, so do spelling instructional levels. Putting the children in spelling development groups helps me to differentiate my class. Every child spells on a different development level, just as they read on a level. That is why I like to individualize their reading and spelling.
“Spelling results are greatly improved when patterns are taught at the instructional level.”