I’ve been using Spellings for Me with my class since last November and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Spellings for Me is an individualised spellings programme designed by two primary school teachers (Patrick Grace and Emma Doherty) with experience in both mainstream and support positions. The programme has both an online and offline element and creates individualised spellings for each pupil in your class.
I don’t know about you but I often find that there could be 5/6 different levels of spellings in my class and a huge difference between each level. This often means that one textbook or set of spellings will not work to support the learning of all pupils but creating 5/6 levels is also a huge task for teachers so this is where ‘Spellings for Me’ comes in.
How does it work? (Online)
The programme is completely individualised for each child. During the first few weeks of the programme, time is spent online where the children complete spelling tests and progress through each level. There are 40 levels in total.
The programme is not designed for any particular class level. Children get spelling lists suitable for them so within any class there could be 28 different lists of spellings. Spellings for Me is based on ability not age or class level. Each student will be challenged at their individual level.
Children log into their own profile and begin at level 1. (If you are starting the programme with a senior class you can progress them onto a higher level – it is recommended not to progress a child further than level 13). For each spelling test the word is read out, followed by a sentence, the word again. Any words that the child gets wrong are stored in ‘Learning Words’. Once the child gets 96 words wrong they are locked out of spelling tests. These 96 incorrect words goes to their ‘Learning Words’ bank. At the end of each test, the child has the option to correct the work or the computer can do it.
Below you’ll see the spelling tests for 3 levels and the dictation sentences (which include all of the spelling words).
Children can take these dictation tests as much as they like and any incorrect words go to the ‘Learning Words’ section (even if they got them right in the original spelling test).
How does it work (Offline)
After the initial testing phase (which only needs to be done once as the children can continue to use their account throughout their time in primary school so the account moves with them each year), the children will have a set of learning words. These can be printed out for each child from the teacher dashboard and the student profile.
Each child will have their own individualised set of learning words which are separated into 12 words per week. These can then be cut out and put into their workbook. Here they can learn the spellings using strategies such as
- Finding a mini word in the word
- Letter strings
- Letter drawings
Along with 4 activities for each week. Here are a selection of some of the different activities used. The children input their own unique spellings to complete the activities so it is completely catered to their own ability.
Generally the children will begin with the online element of the programme, followed by an 8 week block of work in their workbook to practise the individualised spelling lists and then they can complete an learning words test (online), return to the online element and then the workbook etc. (Yearly outline below)
Things I love
Success is celebrated at all levels – I think this is so important. The children don’t have to get 20/20 in a spelling test each Friday. Instead their own individualised spelling achievements are celebrated through certificates for both mastered words and also spelling words. It doesn’t say the level etc. that the child is at on these certificates but just celebrates the child’s progress.
Subtle differentiation – the book is designed for all children from 1st to 6th class. Even though the child may have very different spellings, there is no level written on their learning words or on the book so the differentiation is happening and isn’t really obvious to children which can be a huge issue especially for children in 5th or 6th class.
Individualised – this is a huge part of the programme. Each child gets their own individualised spelling list. Usually spelling programmes have a one size fits all approach and therefore some children can’t access the spellings as they’re too difficult and other children know all the spellings already. With spellings for me every child is challenged appropriately.
Minimal work for the teacher – I think this is really key. Teachers are so busy and spelling is just one part of a huge Literacy programme. There is very minimal additional work involved. During the first few weeks, the children will need to get their correct level and then the strategies that will be used throughout the workbook will need to be taught. After this, the programme is very much self directed and caters for the child at their own level.
Fun/Enjoyable – I think this is really important too. The activities are fun, enjoyable and can be applied to real life too. If you spot the word ancient below – this child noticed that the small word ‘cien’ could be found within the word so the children are encouraged to look around their own environment and spot and make connections with other words too. There is also room for children to be really creative when completing the activities in the workbook.
Overall I can’t recommend the programme highly enough. Free access to the programme is available now until the end of June so definitely check it out!
The cost is €8.50 per child and this includes access to their online profile and the differentiated workbook.
For more information
Visit Spellings for Me
Sign up for a Zoom Webinar (highly recommend this)