3rd Grade Spelling

The district is piloting a new spelling program in which the child learns spelling through word sorts, rather than memorizing a list of words. The list of words your child is using at school for spelling differs from the list of words your child is sorting at home. The test on Friday will be twenty words. Of these twenty words ten will be from the list at school, five will be from the list that went home, and five more will be words your child has not seen, but can solve by following the rules. The program sounds more confusing than it will be for your child. (The most difficult part will be for me to come up with so many words that follow the pattern the child is learning.) By learning the spelling patterns, your child should become a better speller.

This week we will be doing the spelling program in class only, no homework, so that your child can learn how to sort and write the words in the word study notebook. Homework will always follow the same format. On the day the words come home, your child should cut the words apart without the headings, and do an open sort. In this sort, your child decides how to sort the words based on what your child sees in the words, ignoring the rules at the top of the page. Your child can use the blank cards at the bottom to write the headings on. After your child has sorted the words, the words are to be written in the word sort notebook. The paper needs to be folded into columns; one column per category your child decides on. (Please do not have more than four columns. One column could be oddball words-words that don't fit anywhere else.) There is to be only one neatly written word per line, skipping lines between words. The words need to be as neat as a computer print-out and spelled correctly. After completing the activity, the cards need to be stored in a baggie for use through out the week.

The next day your child will sort using the headings on the paper completing what is called a closed sort. After your child has sorted the words with the cards, the words are written into the word sort notebook similar to the day before: in columns with a heading, very neat, skipped lines between words. At the bottom of the page, please have your child tell what has been learned from the word sort in a sentence or two. This generalization is extremely important as it is strengthening the rule in your child's mind.

The next day your child has a choice between speed sort or a blind sort. A speed sort is just like it sounds. The category heads are put out and the cards are sorted as quickly as possible. In a blind sort the child does not see the cards, but hears the words and points to the category the word falls in. If correct, the card is put in the category, face up. Nothing needs to be written for this sort unless you wish your child to copy the words, once sorted, into the notebook.

The night before the spelling test is a written sort. A written sort involves hearing the word out loud and writing it under the correct column without seeing the word. (Basically, this is an old-fashioned spelling test, but, instead of writing it on a paper numbered one to twenty, the words are written under the correct column, neatly skipping lines.) After the word is written, your child checks the spelling of the word against the card.

The word sort notebook goes home on Monday with the new list of words, and it comes back to school on Friday to be checked off. Because each child is sorting words based upon the child's individual developmental needs, the words will not be on the web. It is your child's responsibility to bring the list home from school. I feel this program will have great benefits for your child as your child is not learning to spell by memorizing list after list of words. Rather, your child will be learning spelling patterns that should help in spelling words in writing and in decoding unknown words while reading.

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