Our school has a spelling program. Everyone in the grade gets the same spelling words and work. I'm new to the school, and new to primary, so I just went with it (even though I wasn't 100% comfortable with it).
I think that learning to spell is important. I think that some spelling work really helps with phonics and reading. But I was never convinced that spelling tests on Fridays helped everyone become better spellers.
This past Friday, there were students who got every word correct on the test and there were students who didn't get any words correct on the test. A few students didn't even try - their paper was blank except for their name.
Could they tell I wasn't 100% committed to this spelling program? Or was it because they thought it was too hard, or because they really didn't care? I'm sure there were as many reasons as there are children.
On Friday afternoon we had a discussion about Thanksgiving coming up and what we are thankful for. Everyone was involved, everyone had something to say. Everybody planned a Thank You card for someone in their life.
As they completed their rough draft(s) and final products- EVERYONE CARED ABOUT SPELLING! Some of the words they NEEDED help with had been on the test that day, but now they were interested, now they CARED.
When recess came, nobody wanted to go outside - they wanted to finish their work. This has never happened before. I asked them to check their foreheads for signs of fever. I called our Vice Principal and told her that something amazing was happening in our classroom. I wrote a note to parents on our classroom website.
The students were involved in an authentic task and they wanted it to be neat, they wanted it to be special. I have never seen them work so hard on a writing task. I'm so proud of their hard work and so interested to see if this will be replicated when we get started on our blogs.