Articles on: Literacy

Catering for strong spellers with high scores in Stages 5 & 6, and those moving beyond Stage 6.

In the upper primary years, it is likely that there will be some students operating at high Stage 5 or Stage 6.

These students may have a 'spelling age' that exceeds 12+ on a standardised spelling test. On one hand this is wonderful as these students are clearly advanced spellers. On another this produces challenges for the teachers who still need to cater for their needs and integrate them into a class process.
How many strong spellers in your class are frequently applying these high vocabulary words?
Typically these strong spellers encode well at a single word level, but do not transfer the words accurately (or at all) into their oral language and/or self-generated writing.

Changing the name of a "Spelling Lesson" and renaming this aspect of your literacy block as "Word Study", enables teachers to cater broadly to the range of needs in their classes and shifts the focus beyond 'spelling words' to more sophisticated word attack spelling using syllables, prefixes, suffixes and morphemes.

To further individualise spelling/word study goals, teachers can direct students to select the most appropriate goal such as the ones in the "I am learning..." checklist below:

For some students their primary goal will be acquiring mastery of the phonic concept and the 'sounding out as they spell' word attack strategy. For other students (from Stage 3) the knowledge of the words being provided should factor in, and even be the most important focus. The Semantics, Word Meanings & Morphological Awareness Activities within this resource provides appropriate Word Study learning tasks Spelling Activities for the Middle and Upper Primary.

Do not advance students through higher stages (Stages 5 and 6) if their knowledge of the words is not embedded, or if their accuracy when transferring to self-generated writing needs work.

There is little benefit for students if they can spell the words but not know what they mean. Since an overarching goal of spelling is to apply sophisticated language and vocabulary to self-generated writing, it is worthwhile for strong spellers to "slow down" and engage in word study (morphology) rather than accelerate rapidly through PLD's stages. Spelling (or word study) should be a conduit to facilitate complex words transferring from a single-word level into extended writing.

Strong spellers will not benefit from over-acceleration.

PLD's Time-Savers range contain word lists designed to be used as reading, spelling and word study lists. They are designed to be more than just a list of words to learn to spell. PLD encourages teachers to harness the potential for functionality.

Teachers can use the Year 3, 4, 5 & 6 Teaching Sequence Manual as a guide for planning.
On page 7, an example of a typical week, along with recommendations of differentiated learning tasks to complete within Word Study periods, can be found. The tasks on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays will value-add for the stronger spellers within the class:


PLD's Time-Saver's Stage 5 & Stage 6 resource includes supplementary word lists for:
Greek & Latin root words and their meanings
Words easily confused
Supplementary Lists Greek and Latin Roots & Morpheme Teaching Tips
Note: The morphemes (meaning units) are listed at the base of each complex list. This enables teachers to help students understand the base word and then the impact of adding prefixes and suffixes to the whole word meaning.

Updated on: 20/09/2022

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