Spell It Wrong, Spell It Right: The Game of Getting It Wrong

by Keith Brubacher

Could your students benefit from more variety in spelling review? Keith shares a spelling review technique that invites students to misspell purposely—only so that their classmates can correct them. Keith describes the benefits of intentional misspelling: students anticipate and prevent common spelling mistakes.

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While visiting a friend’s school, I saw him teaching a spelling review technique that I thought works well for variety in reviewing spelling words before a big test. So he had his students, by row, going up to the blackboard. Each student in that row would misspell a word on purpose, they would go back to their desk, and after each person in the row had done that, the first student would go back up to the board and correct one of the others’ misspelled words and then also write down a misspelled word again. And then it’s just a rotating pattern of correcting a word and misspelling one.

You’re going to write a word incorrectly, like “dependant,” in yellow. And then your partner is going to correct it in white, writing the correct world beside the yellow word.

I feel that it’s good variety for reviewing when there’s a big spelling test coming up. I’ve also used spelling bees and maybe a mini spelling test and that type of thing. One of the reasons that it’s good practice for them is that a student needs to think about a word and purposely misspell it. It’s wise to misspell words that are easy to misspell in real life. They might make a mistake substituting an E for an A or something like that that they’ve done in their new words dictation. And then another student needs to come along and think about that same word and spell it correctly.

So there are different variations. You can do it with the size of the group, whether they’re going to their desks or not, or just staying at the board. In today’s class, we did it with pairs where they were just working with one other student. One of the hurdles that I have to jump is that not all my students are doing the same level of spelling, and so that’s actually why I did the pairs this time so that all the students that are in the same level of spelling are going to be using the words that they’re learning in this unit. Of course, you have students who will get distracted and sometimes they get a little off task, but in general they do quite well to use this chance to get a little bit of exercise while they’re doing a lesson.

All right, grab your spellers, and head to your spots, and you may begin with Lesson 19.

Good. Grade Seven, you’re doing well to make mistakes that you might actually make in real life. That’s good practice.

So I wish you good success with practicing your spelling words, not only for the tests, but also for spelling in real life.

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CONTRIBUTOR: Keith Brubacher

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