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Modifying Spelling Activities and Spelling Tests to Meet Students' Needs

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/2/2012

All students can have their own spelling lists each week with their own number of words at their own levels. With these lists, students can do spelling activities to practice their words and meet objectives in other subject areas. Weekly spelling tests will also be modified and provide success!

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    Weekly Spelling Activities and The Test

    Spelling activities and spelling lessons can be modified throughout the week to prepare for spelling tests:

    On Monday, students create their lists, using their spelling dictionaries or content words. Some students with special needs or IEPs might need you or a buddy student to help create their spelling lists.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday, students participate in spelling activities. Use these activities to work on other curriculum objectives such as handwriting, punctuating sentences, or classifying words. For example, your students can write their spelling words two times in cursive. If students with special needs are not ready for cursive, then modify their spelling lessons to practice in print, so they are ready for spelling tests.

    On Thursdays, students work with a buddy to orally practice spelling their words. On Fridays, students exchange spelling lists and give each other a spelling test. Walk around the room and observe students. Collect papers as you see students finish. This spelling test time will look different in every classroom because you know your students and what organization and instruction will work best for them.

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    But What About?

    Some teachers worry that students will complain about having more words than others during spelling activities. Wit this approach it should rarely happen because ALL students are working on their own levels. If you do hear complaints from a student or parents, explain that some are great at spelling already, and others need a little more practice. Compare spelling to practicing for a sport or musical instrument. You can also explain the need to challenge all your students to spell as many new words as they can, so students are going to be working at different paces. If a student still complains after this explanation, talk to them and possibly compromise by shortening their list by one or two words.

    Another big concern for teachers with modifying spelling activities and spelling tests is the spelling dictionary and worries about the students running out of words to put on their lists. Students should be adding words to these dictionaries every time they ask you how to spell a word. If they spell a word incorrectly on a science test, write it in the dictionary. You can add content words to their dictionaries. Don't let students keep their spelling dictionaries in their desks or take them home! Many teachers will have bins for spelling dictionaries, and students add words once a day during spelling activities. They have notecards on their desks where they write the words they need to add to their dictionaries.

Making Spelling Meaningful for ALL Students

Spelling can be modified for all students at any ability level and make this sometimes dreaded subject fun and successful for all. Spelling doesn't have to be about memorizing a long list of spelling words for a weekly Friday spelling test anymore. These articles explain how to set this up.
  1. Solve Your Spelling Problems: Create Individualized Spelling Lists
  2. Modifying Spelling Activities and Spelling Tests to Meet Students' Needs