About a month ago we had 40 visiting educators on campus to see how our school uses iPads to support student learning. While in our classroom, one of the teachers asked, “Are you the Real Spelling guy?” Apparently she had seen some matrices in Mr. Davis’s class and when questioned about them, he referred this teacher to me. After initial pleasantries, she shared her awareness of Real Spelling, stories of colleagues who loved it, and, quite proudly, how she had not yet “drunk the Kool-Aid.” I shrugged off the implication with a smile and carried on. She finally asked, “OK, OK, but does it work?” I replied, “What do you mean by ‘work’?” even though I knew exactly what she meant. She rolled her eyes and said, “Do your students spell correctly?” and then smiled as I replied that some do and some don’t, not unlike every other group of students I’ve ever taught. But I went on to say that every one of them knows that the English writing system is orderly and well-behaved, that it is not full of irregularities that must be simply memorized, and that every word has a rich story that will only be revealed to those who are scientific, scholarly, and full of wonder. She inched toward the door as I spoke, fully unaware that it was she, not I, who had drunk the Kool-Aid. I stopped drinking the stuff about two years ago when I was liberated from the gimmicks and untruths I had imbibed and peddled for so long.
But it’s a valid question. Did “it” – orthography, Real Spelling, structured word inquiry – work? My observations and reflections say yes, it did. This blog has hopefully been evidence of “its” effectiveness as well. But let’s ask the students…”What do you think kids, did it work?”
I was really surprised when I first learnt that the spelling of every word had a meaning. When I was young I kept thinking about why words were spelt the way they are. At first I thought it was just made up, but now that I’m learning Real Spelling I know that I was way off on that hypothesis.
Does it work? Yes it does to me, if you mean learning to spell better and learning the rules of the beautiful English language.
My first language is not English, and after learning so much on Real Spelling, my English has improved so much!
There are many rules in the English language, and if you investigate words the way we do in this class, you learn how to spell words better, and learn about the English language. But I have not only learned about English, but also Latin, French and many different languages. We learned about the roots of words, and lots of them are not from Old English, but from French, German, Latin, Greek etc. I guess it is good to have some Latin lessons….
Like I mentioned, I learn how to spell words better. In both ways. I mean, there are two types of spelling I know of. Spelling as in how do you spell cat, c-a-t. And spelling as in Real Spelling. I just saw on the ERB test that I wrote ‘especially’ as ‘expecially’, and I remember not too long after we took the test I investigated the word ‘especially’. I also know that ‘definitely’ is spelt the way it is because of de + fine + ite + ly, and not ‘definately’, as how I used to spell it….
What I think about this is that, yes I have learnt how to spell better using real spelling, because now I know the different parts of, for example, ‘cohesion’ which is co + hese + ion.
When we first started learning about orthography I was really amazed. Before we started I didn’t know there are so many English rules. I didn’t believe there was a story behind every word.
I learnt the different roots of spelling. I learnt more about Latin, Greek, English, French, etc. I learnt some of the rules of English and how to analyze words. I learnt the different parts of words like suffixes and prefixes, etc.
I was amazed with how beautiful real script is and I can’t believe we got to learn how to write like that. Now I usually use my script for letters, notes, etc, but if it’s something where I need to write a lot, then I would use my normal hand writing.
It was amazing meeting Old Grouch. He is an amazing helper if we need any help with orthography and his script is just absolutely fantastic. I would like to thank him for all he has done for our class. I wish we could meet him sometime!
This year we have been doing lots of word investigating, and we found out the meaning of the word and the story that is behind it. We found out how to analyze words and find different suffixes, prefixes and base elements. All this was fun and interesting but the question is ‘Did it work?’ Well if you mean do I know more about words and how they work, then yes it did work, it worked very well. Now I know different meanings of words and now I know why they are spelt that way. Now I know that there is a story behind every word I look into. If you meant by did it work? Do I spell better now? Then yes I do spell a little better now because I think before I write a word. I think about how it would be spelt with the suffix, prefix and base element and then I most likely will spell it right. In my opinion it did work.
Here is an example of a word I enjoyed to investigate, ‘copying’. It is spelt like this copy+ing and comes from the Latin route ‘copiare’- “to transcribe,” and I came up with words to relate with it like -copy
I also was wondering if the word copycat had something to do with the word copying and found out that it does have something to do with it. It is a compound word which means that it has more than one base element and the other base element in this word is ‘Cat’.
In my opinion real spelling has worked. I might not like it as much as most subjects but I thinks it’s important and cool to know where your every day words come from. I would recommend doing this in all of 5th and 4th grade classes. Me and my classmates always investigate into words, sometimes it can be fun and sometimes it can’t. But I have learned the meaning for many words and now I think it should be part of everyday spelling across the world.
It works for me now. But when I was learning the other way (spell it out loud) that did fine for me. I think the reason it works is because meaning is what built the English language. What would “go” be if it didn’t have meaning? So yes and no. Just a couple words I have been wondering about lately:
Actually lots of words ending in -ology. Even ‘ology’ itself.
The first day we did orthography I was amazed of the fact that every word has a history behind it.
It depends how you put the word ‘work’. If it’s, I can spell better, not necessarily. But if it means does it make you think, absolutely. When I’m writing a story in my notebook and don’t know how to spell a word, I think what the ‘base, prefix and suffix is.’
Orthography has not only taught me about spelling but also different languages. For example: French, Latin, Greek and improved my German. It has taught me that many languages come from the same root of languages.
I have learnt how to make a matrix and analyze words. I know that every single letter in a word has a meaning to be there. If I look back now at how I used to spell, I think it was mostly memorizing and sounding out. Spelling should make you think.
I do still make mistakes but now I always go off and find out how you spell the word and why.
Orthography can be really interesting but also boring. Once you’re hooked you can never forget. It is fun showing our talent off to the world, telling them even the Oxford dictionary can be wrong.
It is very helpful for people like me who sometimes have trouble spelling.
I think the real spelling worked because it helped me understand the different meanings of words which also helped me with knowing how to spell a word. I had trouble at the beginning because I did not really understand what a base element or a suffix or a prefix was and now I know more than I did at the beginning of the year. I also saw a lot of connections with different languages.
I find this year of spelling was probably the most thoughtful, unique, really ‘thinking’ spelling I’ve ever had. It not only made us think a lot, it made us think about every word to see and check out how we could spell it. At the beginning of the year I thought a spelling of a word was just a memory, but it was much more than that. Every now and then if I’m reading a book or watching a movie, every time I hear a word I just think about it for a bit and see where it comes from. This year I feel it was the most thoughtful year and I actually thought without having someone make me. I learned how to really spell words with different morphemes, suffixes, prefixes and the list will just go on. Not only did I learn how to spell the word, but I learned how to spell one word in so many different ways if it is in the past, present or future. I’ve learned there is so much more to words and spelling than it seems. Every word holds its own unique story. That’s why I think I have learned so much more this year than I have in any other year because this year I actually thought about words and so much more.
Lucas: Regarding the question ‘does it work?’, if you mean “spell correctly,” I think it does. When I looked over some of the writing assessments I did, I imagined the amount of spelling mistakes I would have made last year under stress. I would most likely have made around 20-25 mistakes. This year, under stress, I had four mistakes, which is quite a decline.
But it’s definitely not just memorization. It’s about thinking. Whenever I see a word I think quite deeply about it. Like ‘history’, I wondered if it was once spelled ‘highstory’, and for ‘exist’ I wondered why it wasn’t spelled ‘exsist.’
I forgot some of the things we learned about, but that’s OK. I also forget some of the stories I read. That just means I get to read them again and make new discoveries.
Sebastian: I’ve never been good at memorizing, but I’ve always liked exploring and investigating. I remember investigating ‘hydration’ and how I connected it to ‘Hydra’. I don’t remember exactly what the base was, but I remember it had something to do with water. Those letters work together because of their meaning and not because of their sound or pronunciation. So my answer to that question is yes it has help me a lot this year.
I think, it does work. The reason why is, for example, I used to spell does, dose. But when Mr. Allen said that -do- is the base element and -es- is the suffix, it has stuck to me since.
I think real spelling has really helped me this year. At the beginning of the year I was not such a good speller. And now Ican spell much better, not like Shakespeare but I have improved and I am proud of myself to have achieved that. When we learned about suffixes and prefixes the first day of school I was confused but then I got the hang of it. Doing mini matrix was a lot of fun and just investigating was very interesting. But overall this year real spelling has helped me a great deal.
To ask “did it work?” is out of mind. Of course it did!
The experience of orthography changed my life. Now when I write I know how to spell words, but not only that, I also now know how to investigate them. I loved the exchanging of information with Old Grouch and hope that for next year’s class they get the same experience.
Spelling and orthography is a lesson to be learned. I know that I have had a benefit from this because my mom is getting annoyed with me talking about it all the time. I have had lots of fun just investigating. I know I have not got a lot of posts about word investigating on my blog, but if you would look in my Keynote app on my iPad you would see about seven different word investigations going on. That was because I was so eager to do a new one and investigate. Plus I had so many words flying around in my head just calling for my attention. Right now I am thinking of the word “fancy.” I might want investigate that later. When I first started investigating words with Mr. Allen and Old Grouch, I thought it was STUPID! But now looking back at all I found out, this is actually worth a lot since there are barely any people out there who know what we know. In conclusion, Word Investigating is an important part of learning.
When Real Spelling was introduced I thought it was interesting. I loved it. I think it is much better than sitting down and doing 70-word spelling tests. If you mean, “If it works in the ‘meaning’ way, then yes. I fell deeply into the mini matrices and how languages work together to make a word.
I thought that Real Spelling was a really fun thing to learn about. I liked finding all sorts of suffixes and prefixes. I wish I could say thank you to whoever made Etymonline and the Mini Matrix Maker, and I thought it was really cool to see how we could find out about all sorts of words, and most of all just to see the meaning and which routes they came from!