How to Teach Right-Brained Spelling and Phonics Successfully
The English language is very confusing and contradictory to many children. We can spot them because they are also the children who struggle to read. It’s as simple as that! The Right-Brained Spelling & Phonics Kit will be your best helper when demystifying this language for your brand new or struggling readers.
Here’s the Kit:
The Right-Brained Spelling & Phonics Kit contains:
- The Illustrated Book of Sounds & Their Spelling Patterns will be both your teaching manual and your student workbook. The lessons are presented in order by difficulty, so you can start at the very beginning and march straight through the book. The purpose of this book, in simplest terms, is to show your children all the ways to spell each sound they hear in words. It is important to carefully read the instructions at the beginning of the book, paying closest attention to the sections “Fundamentals” and “Daily Routine.”
- Sound Spelling Display Cards are used to display on the wall as you teach a particular sound. The purpose of the Display Cards is to show in one place all the ways you can spell a sound. For example, there is one card for Long A spellings which include: a-e (ate), ai (rain), ay (day), ey (they), ea (break), eigh (eight), ei (rein), aigh (straight). The card contains a sentence using all the spellings: “One day eight reins were not straight, so they took a break and ate in the rain”. The sentence and picture tie together all the ways to spell Long A.
- Sound Spelling Teaching Cards pair with the first two resources. If you are teaching Long A spellings using Sounds & Their Spelling Patterns, you will find the Long A Display Card and post it. Next you will find the 8 Long A Teaching Cards in your kit. There is one card per spelling. So when you are teaching Long A you will use the specific card for the spelling you are teaching that day. When you have taught that particular spelling, you can display the Teaching Card by the Display Card and let the cards accumulate there until you have taught all 8 spellings.
What the Kit will do:
Teaching all the ways to spell the sounds we can hear in words will help bring order and sense to our very confusing language. Children will quickly learn that there are predictable patterns in the English language that they can learn to recognize easily. Spellings they learn in short, easy words (such as the ay in day) they will recognize in longer words such as in the word maybe or playmate. Learning sound spellings will help kids who struggle spot those spellings in their reading. Recognizing their old friends in harder, longer words will give them the ability to quickly figure out new words without stress.
How to Start:
- Read the beginning sections in The Illustrated Book of Sounds & Their Spelling Patterns. Know ahead of time that this is a very different approach, but one that will help make learning easy for your students. They won’t be learning to spell words by memorizing the names of the letters in the words. They will be focusing on hearing individual sounds in words and then writing the letters that represent those sounds. This way, we bypass ineffective memorization of word spellings.
- If you are teaching one child, scan the lessons beginning with Lesson One. Your goal is to find the first lesson that includes spellings you are positive your child doesn’t know well. Once you have identified that lesson, go back a page or two and start with a lesson that you are pretty sure your child can do easily. The reason for doing this is that you will both have a chance to learn the routine without also having to deal with unknown material. Just follow the Fundamentals (see p. vii) and the Daily Routine (see p. xiii). If you are teaching a class, group the class according to the level they are ready for in case you have some newbies and some more advanced students. I would definitely recommend using this Kit with your whole class rather than reserving it for those who struggle because even your advanced children will have plenty to learn!
- Find and post the Sounds Display Card that relates to the lesson you are teaching. Find the Teaching Card that corresponds to the spellings of that sound. Introduce the lesson by pointing out the Display card. Say, “We are learning how to spell the Long A sound, and here is a picture about Long A.” Then read the sentence and tell your child that the words that have red letters in them show the ways you can spell Long A, but today we are just going to practice with ay.
- Show the child(ren) the Teaching Card that corresponds to the spelling you will teach today. For example, show the ay card (card 49) and mention that the sun behind the a shows that it is day. Then read the sentence, “I say, ‘Today, I may stay and play all day in the spray!’” It would be helpful for you to then write all the ay words in a column on your own whiteboard so that the ays line up. Children will be able to see the pattern and will come to recognize ay wherever else they see it.
- Find the corresponding lesson in Sounds & Their Spelling Patterns. In this case, you will use page 15 which has three Long A sound spellings. If you are teaching ay, pay attention only to the column on the right. The children will highlight all the ays they find in the bold words. Follow the directions for Daily Routine.
Always follow the pace of your students. At first, they will need more time with each lesson because they are also learning to move away from habits of trying to sound out words and memorize letter spellings and towards listening to sounds they hear in words and representing those sounds with spelling patterns they are learning. But once they complete the switch to learning this new, more effective way, learning a new lesson will be rapid!
In my own experience as a Title 1 director, I was taught groups in K through 7th grades in small groups. About half way through the school year, my students had gotten so comfortable with this way of learning that they literally would enter the room, ask for their paper, scan the top to locate the sound spellings for the day, and start highlighting on their own. Then we’d read the sentences together and many of them would turn their paper over and say, “Test me!”
In addition, these students who entered the Title 1 program because they were failing spelling, and were multiple grade levels behind in reading, advanced so much in one year that they were all at grade level or higher by the end of the school year. Their personal goal had become to score only 100% on any assessment we gave. This is the power of teaching in a way that suits right-brained learners! - Sarah Major, M.Ed.