We have all been working so hard, these second graders and me.  We are putting our noses to the grindstone and forging ahead — learning new ways to remember, figure, and memorize.  We have been focusing on word lists.  Each week, we have a new list that we read through, spell, put into a sentence, and then a few days later, after they have had a chance to study at school with me, with a friend, and at home, we have a pseudo test.  We sit down and I give them the words. I let them know that it’s only important that they try and that we will go over the list at the end to correct any of the words that were missed, circling them so we can continue to study them.  There are no grades, no check marks in red.  They correct their own work so that they can see what they’ve missed and how to fix it.

I don’t believe much in spelling tests, but I do want them to memorize some of those tricky words, and to be prepared to move on next year to what will most likely be other types of word tests.  Some people are naturally better at spelling than others are.  Over the years, it seems that some brains are set up to spell easily while others may be set up to draw with ease and so on.  I’ve also learned that it has nothing to do with intelligence or story-telling ability.  I know PH.D candidates, physicists, journalists, and some of my favorite writers who have difficulty with spelling.

When a student is writing a story, I think spelling should be the last priority.  Thought, flow, and heart should always come first.  Then the story can be reviewed for spelling and punctuation errors.  I have struggled with spelling all of my life, even though I have a literature degree and a Master’s in Education.  Often, I re-read the columns that I write for a mothering magazine. And often, I need to correct spelling errors up until the final draft is sent to my editors.  I also occasionally misspell words on the blog (although this may be because the last thing I do in my day is blog, between 11:00pm and 1:00am depending on the day, after my own child’s dinner, bath, and bedtime ritual).  So I can relate to the kids who find this process frustrating.

I’m trying to find balance in this arena of letting the oldest kids in the class guide their own learning while also providing some solid teacher instruction time.  I’m hoping these tools that we are working on will help them to write more easily and with more confidence.  And if you find that on occasion I’ve accidentally replaced there with their, please have confidence that I know the difference, and that it is possibly the wee hours of the morning and I can barely see straight…

Signing off — with heart, soul, and words circling the drain.

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