It is likely that students operating at high Stage 5 or 6 levels will 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.

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 self-generated writing. For example, based on the following Stage 5 and Stage 6 word lists shown below, how many of the 'strong spellers' in your class are frequently applying the high vocabulary words (denoted by the arrows)?

Suggestion 1: Avoid a focus on "Spelling" and rename this aspect of your literacy block to "Word Study".

This will enable teachers to cater broadly to the range of needs in their classes. Page 6 in the Year 3, 4, 5 & 6 Screening & Tracking Manual outlines the screening and tracking process that facilitates the creation of three targeted teaching groups to differentiate within the classroom.

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.

Suggestion 2: 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.

In terms of programming, page 7 in the Year 3, 4, 5 & 6 Teaching Sequence Manual gives an example of a typical week, along with recommendations of differentiated learning tasks to complete within Word Study periods. The tasks on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays will value-add for the stronger spellers within the class:

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.

PLD resources for strong spellers

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

An example of a root word list from Time-Savers Stage 5 & Stage 6:

The popular Phonic and Sight Word Sequence 5th Edition contains many more words that can be added to custom word lists.
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