Notes on Spelling

I was recently asked by a reader "What comes after green in the pink/blue/green series?". I will be honest, I was (momentarily) stumped. Mostly because I was not trained in PBG - so trying to wrap my head around that paradigm took a few moments. Also the idea that spelling occurs in a linear fashion did not really compute in my mind, as it is the result of reading and writing. So many experiences contribute to this ability.

So I thought I would expand a little on my answer to that reader here and share my thoughts and ideas with you all.

To me regardless of what type of learning environment - Montessori or otherwise - spelling cannot occur in isolation. My feeling is that spelling for spellings sake is counter-intuitive. When I began my studies what really resonated with me about elementary Montessori was the integrated approach, what we call cosmic education, in which learning is fostered. We, as the guide provide, children with the keys to self learning.

The transition from phonetic to non-phonetic words is developed and supported in many ways, including but not limited to:
  • orthography folders
  • studying the parts of speech - e.g. noun studies include the spelling rules for plurals and gender
  • etymology - which happens across all learning areas
  • word study - prefixes, compound words, etc.
  • providing individualised strategies based on the needs of each child
  • individual spelling dictionaries generated by the child (words of interest, words of difficulty)
Spelling is the natural consequence of reading and writing and should be:
  • student driven
  • not regimented into a meaningless task
  • made interesting through etymology, history and stories
  • connected to other learning areas
  • connected to the child's interests
Setting arbitrary words for an end of week quiz cultivates competition and impedes  lasting understanding of spelling concepts.

I see and hear of other teachers who implement various spelling programs, something I would be reluctant to do unless I felt it benefitted a particular child and it could be implemented in a Montessori way.

Related posts:

Plural Nouns

Vocabulary Building

More articles:

Spelling in the Montessori Upper Elementary Classroom - NAMC

Elementary Spelling and Research Writing - MTIPS - transcript