Monday, October 11, 2010

The Science of Spelling, Implications of Discovery #2

The question:

"How are teaching strategies for young emerging spellers different than those for older skilled spellers, and how does the difference relate to brain scan research?" (SOS, p13)

Find the answer in the Science of Spelling, The Explicit Specifics That Make Great Readers and Writers (And Spellers!), Dr Richard Gentry's book that explains the science behind teaching spelling.

Discovery # 2: The Emergence of Spelling Ability and Ability to Spell Words Correctly and Automatically Are Different

(From The Science of Spelling (SOS), Gentry, Chapter 2)

"....learning to spell, which generally should happen in kindergarten and first grade, is very different from being a good speller (that is, spelling words correctly and automatically, which generally evolves in grades two through eight." (p13)

There are two phases of spelling:
  1. Phase I, Learning to Spell ("learning how to represent words with alphabetic letters," p.13, SOS)
  2. Phase II, Spelling Correctly and Automatically ("adding new, correct spelling entries to the dictionary of the brain," p17, SOS)

"Implications from the discovery that the emergence of spelling and correct and automatic spelling are different fall into two categories. The first set of implications relates to the emergence phase of spelling/writing/reading. The last implication relates to Phase II." (SOS, p22)
  1. "Kindergarteners and first graders should invent spellings and write frequently..."
  2. Teachers should "pay attention to developmental levels of spelling," using "informal assessments such as the Monster Test (Gentry 1982) to further track development..."
  3. "Differentiate instruction during Phase I based on levels of writing."
  4. "Provide early intervention during Phase I for students who are not meeting expected levels of writing achievement."
  5. "Provide explicit spelling instruction during Phase II for increasing writing and reading fluency." (SOS, pp 22-23)
For more a more details on Dr. Gentry's two phases of spelling, read Chapter 2 of The Science of Spelling, available on

J. Richard Gentry, Ph.D., is an internationally acclaimed author and researcher and is recognized for groundbreaking work in spelling and Pre-K through second-grade emergent literacy. His breakthrough insights on the early connections of reading, writing, and spelling are unraveling the mysteries of how teachers should teach and how children learn to read and write. His new book for parents, Raising Confident Readers, is the culmination of more than 30 years of experience in childhood education. He is also the author of Breakthrough in Beginning Reading and Writing, Step-by-Step Assessment Guide to Code Breaking, Breaking the Code, and The Science of Spelling. His blog posts for Psychology Today offer advice to parents on raising readers, writers, and spellers.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I just finished reading your book "Raising Confident Readers". It was really inspiring and the activities are easy and doable. My oldest is 7 years old and started reading shortly after he turned 5. I was doing a few of the activiies in the book with him without thinking about it, workbooks too. Now I needed some ideas for what to do with my 4-year-old and this book helped, plus I decided to start early with the baby (11 months old). Thank you!

    I just blogged about this book and when googling a picture of it I came across your website. Here's a link if you want to see:

    I'm wondering...when you write the labels do you think it should be in all capitals? I wrote some labels (mainly for my baby but for the 4-year-old too) the other day and wasn't really thinking about it and wrote the first letter in caps and the rest small. I don't think it was mentioned in the book.