Spelling for Success

Spelling and reading abilities are correlated. Spelling success leads to reading success. In the days of the one room schoolhouse, students were taught to spell before they could read and were not allowed to read words they had not yet learned to spell. (See this 1851 article.)

Spelling well is every bit as important today. Learning phonics principles can improve your spelling. There are simple phonics principles that are also spelling principles. Learning these principles can improve both reading and spelling abilities. You can learn all of these phonics principles in the online spelling lessons. The majority of these principles can be found in written format here.

A good spelling book can also help. Most spelling books are just compilations of words that are often misspelled, thrown together with no organization. "Spelling Made Simple" by Stephen V. Ross, however, organizes like words together and also includes useful spelling rules. If you are looking for a basic spelling book that reinforces phonics teaching, Practical Spelling by Learning Express is a good choice.

Here are some more good choices:

How to Teach Any Child to Spell by Gayle Graham
Explains how to categorize words by phonetic patterns and teach a student to spell using their own misspelled words. Website: Common Sense Press Spelling

Tricks of the Trade by Gayle Graham
The companion Spelling Notebook for Graham's book above, for students to write and categorize words they misspell in nicely set up categories. Website: Common Sense Press Spelling

Spelling Plus by Susan Anthony
This book is rule based and very efficient because it focuses on 1000 words that are most important to learn to spell, the most commonly used words and the most frequently misspelled words. For those that need to use a word in a sentence, not just work on lists of words and rules, the author has a companion book, Spelling Dictation.

The American Spelling Book by Noah Webster
Continue the tradition used succesfully by American Children over the ages. As a bonus, it teaches spelling and reading at the same time. Plus, it's free online from Don Potter!

Easy Steps in Spelling by M.W. Hazen
A good spelling book for beginners that organizes like words together. Plus, it's free online from Google Books!

Dr. Ernest Christman's "Rx for Reading: Teach Them Phonics" is aimed at the remedial reading student, however, it is also a good book for improving spelling.

The Sounds of English
A Website where you can generate your own spelling lists based on sound spelling patterns your student needs to practice.

Synthetic Series of spelling and reading by Rebecca S. Pollard. This is an excellent series that is free online from Google Books. It makes use of lovely songs and pictures, and is a delightful, well designed method. It will take a bit of time to get used to the method, but is well worth the effort. Pollard herself in her Synthetic Speller states, "Observe this order of presenting the work

1st. Blackboard drill.
2d. Marking and pronouncing from Speller.
3d. Marking and reading from Primer or 1st Reader"

Or, you can start with her First Book for Little Folks. "By combining in one book all of the work for the first year, it is believed that the author's plan of instruction is made more apparent to the teacher, and that the work is put in more convenient form for the pupil.” The First Book for Little Folks includes references to page numbers in Pollard's Manual for each lesson.

Pollard’s Complete Manual: Synthetic Method of Reading and Spelling by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Speller by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Advanced Speller by Rebecca S. Pollard
First Book for Little Folks by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Primer by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic First Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Second Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Synthetic Third Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard
Pollard's Advanced Reader by Rebecca S. Pollard

Finally, a warning against invented spelling: it is a bad idea. See here for a complete discussion of invented spelling. Practice makes perfect...and if you are practicing spelling something incorrectly, you are only reinforcing the incorrect spelling in your brain. Students need to learn to spell correctly, and they need their spelling mistakes corrected so they can learn the correct spellings of words.

Here is a good list of spelling rules.

Once you’ve exhausted the sound spelling correspondences, there is another level of spelling: spelling based on etymology and morphology. A root based vocabulary book will help you learn this level of spelling.

Finally, the best way to improve your spelling while also improving someone's life is to find a person in need of reading help and teach them to read with phonics. You will both be blessed!