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Spelling at Tutshill
As part of our continued drive to raise standards in English, we are placing a large focus on spelling throughout the school. We now follow a programme called No Nonsense Spelling, which will be delivered in Year 2 to Year 6. In Reception and Year 1, children will continue to learn phonics and follow Letters and Sounds. No Nonsense Spelling focuses on the teaching of spelling, embracing knowledge of spelling conventions- patterns and rules; but integral to the teaching is the opportunity to promote the learning of spellings, including statutory words, common exception words and words that children personally find difficult. You may at times see words that you consider ‘easy’ for your child on their personal spelling list. This is due to your child possibly knowing the spelling but unable to apply the correct spelling in writing. It may also be the case that words remain on a personal list for little while. Again this will be due to them not being spelt correctly in their work. The personal spelling lists will be created in school from the child’s work. I am sure many parents/carers enjoy working with their children to complete their spellings. If at any time you would like to practise more words at home, you are encouraged to look at these spelling lists. The word lists mentioned are available through the eschools app on the class pages and from your class teacher.
How is the programme organised?
The programme has been broken down into half termly plans. The plans follow a model of five spelling sessions across two weeks, except in Year 2 where sessions are daily. Each lesson is approximately 10 to15 minutes long, but lesson plans are flexible so that the teaching can reflect the extra time needed on a teaching point if required.
Teaching sequence
The programme has been written broadly following a teaching sequence for spelling, whereby each new concept is taught, practised and then applied and assessed. Frequently there is also a ‘Revise’ session before the teaching session. By integrating activities for handwriting, the benefit of making a spelling activity kinaesthetic is secured. Children will acquire the physical memory of the spelling pattern as well as the visual.
Learning at home and in school
Learning needs to happen in school and at home. There is little evidence though, that the traditional practice of learning spellings (usually 10) at home and being tested on them (usually on a Friday) is effective. However, there is a high expectation within the National Curriculum 2014 that pupils will learn many increasingly complex words. Within the programme, learning spelling patterns is built into each six-week block. Within the sessions a range of strategies for learning spellings are introduced and practiced. This enables pupils to choose the strategies they find most effective for learning different words.
Tips for learning spellings at home
Learning at home needs to be an extension of the learning at school for it to be effective. Spellings will be sent home regularly in correlation with what is being taught in class. The learning strategies featured below are introduced incrementally throughout the programme and can then be used to support learning spellings at home.
Look, say, cover, write, check
This is probably the most common strategy used to learn spellings.
Look: first look at the whole word carefully and if there is one part of the word that is difficult, look at that part in more detail.
Say: say the word as you look at it, using different ways of pronouncing it if that will make it more memorable.
Cover: cover the word. Write: write the word from memory, saying the word as you do so.
Check: Have you got it right? If yes, try writing it again and again! If not, start again – look, say, cover, write, check.
Trace, copy and replicate
(and then check)
This is a similar learning process to ‘look, say, cover, write, check’ but is about developing automaticity and muscle memory. Write the word out on a sheet of paper ensuring that it is spelt correctly and it is large enough to trace over. Trace over the word and say it at the same time. Move next to the word you have just written and write it out as you say it. Turn the page over and write the word as you say it, and then check that you have spelt it correctly. If this is easy, do the same process for two different words at the same time. Once you have written all your words this way and feel confident, miss out the tracing and copying or the tracing alone and just write the words.
Segmentation strategy  The splitting of a word into its constituent phonemes in the correct order to support spelling.
Quickwrite Writing the words linked to the teaching focus with speed and fluency. The aim is to write as many words as possible within a time constraint. Pupils can write words provided by the teacher or generate their own examples. For example, in two minutes write as many words as possible with the /iː/ phoneme. This can be turned into a variety of competitive games including working in teams and developing relay race approaches.
Drawing around the word to show the shape Draw around the words making a clear distinction in size where there are ascenders and descenders. Look carefully at the shape of the word and the letters in each box. Now try to write the word making sure that you get the same shape.
Drawing an image around the word This strategy is all about making a word memorable. It links to meaning in order to try to make the spelling noticeable. You can’t use this method as your main method of learning spellings, but it might work on those that are just a little more difficult to remember.
Words without vowels This strategy is useful where the vowel choices are the challenge in the words. Write the words without the vowels and pupils have to choose the correct grapheme to put in the space. For example, for the word field.
Pyramid words This method of learning words forces you to think of each letter separately. You can then reverse the process so that you end up with a diamond.
Other strategies
 Other methods can include:
• Rainbow writing. Using coloured pencils in different ways can help to make parts of words memorable. You could highlight the tricky part s of the word or write the tricky part in a different colour. You could also write each letter in a different colour, or write the word in red, then overlay in orange, yellow and so on.
• Making up memorable ‘silly sentences’ containing the word
• Saying the word in a funny way – for example, pronouncing the ‘silent’ letters in a word
• Clapping and counting to identify the syllables in a word