I tried to make up my own spelling curriculum and I didn’t do a very good job of it.
I wanted to get a sense of where Sam is at with spelling, and how interested she is in it. It turns out that she is interested, but I almost killed her interest with my sloppiness in being aware of where she is at.
I decided to have her transcribe sentences that I made up on the spot, with very simple words. Then she would give me the paper and I’d circle the incorrect words and help her figure out how to spell them correctly and she’d re-write them. The first sentence was “The cat sat on the mat.” She spelled everything correctly and was thrilled. The next sentence was, “I can read and write.” Not only did she get “read” and “write” wrong (which I expected), but she spelled “can” with a “k.” I didn’t think this would be a big deal – I thought she would be thrilled to learn the proper spelling. But she was devastated to have done it wrong. Maybe one mistake would have been okay, but three was crushing to her. I also don’t think she minds if she spells something out loud incorrectly, but when she writes it down and it is wrong, it is very upsetting to her. (She does the same thing with her math work – she freaks out if she makes a mistake in writing, but is happy to correct herself orally.)
I’m not not happy with her attitude towards making mistakes – this is the same issue I’ve struggled with for years now. Sam is not good with “failure” and rarely wants to try something unless she can do it well. But what I’ve learned is that I can’t address this problem directly and I can’t talk her out of it. And instead of continuing with the spelling lessons this way, hoping that she will eventually come to see that the mistakes are opportunities for learning, which is what I would have done in the past, I am going to do the opposite: I’m going to go out of my way to keep these “failures” from happening, and I don’t have any bright ideas about how to introduce just the right level of difficulty or how to avoid the problem of writing things down incorrectly. It’s time to buy something.
I just purchased Spelling Workout from Amazon. When I get it, I’ll take a look and see if it might work for us. So, I suppose I didn’t do such a bad job designing my own spelling program – it revealed what level she is at, how interested she is, and how I might best capitalize on that interest. See, I’m okay with failure!