The first thing I noticed is that this is a completely different approach to spelling that we had been doing. Knowing that what we have been doing isn't working, I was very excited to try this different approach. There are no weekly spelling lists and random activities to do each week to prepare for a test on Friday.
Instead, there are three activities you use:
- Chunking - during this segment each day, we look for specific patterns in words - vowel chunks, consonant chunks, bossy r chunks, tricky y guy chunks, endings, and silent letters. Each different chunk is coded in a different color, which stays consistent throughout the course. This helps them get a visual of these patterns. Everyday, they color code certain chunks in a passage that you read aloud with them.
- Copywork - The first three days of the lesson (there are 5 "days" in each lesson), you follow your chunking activity with copy work. They take the same passage they just read and coded, and copy part of it each day. It says to take no more than 10 minutes on this. If they aren't finished at 10 minutes, you stop until the next day. T was pumped about this...but it only took him 4-5 minutes to do the copywork so he didn't get to skip out on anything after all. haha. I am a big fan of copywork in general - the kids do it everyday normally, so this wasn't new or a shock to them. I had Princess P do some of the lessons with us. She could do the chunking and copywork just fine but struggled on the dictation. Next month I'll blog about the spelling I am using for her now. If I had a lower level of this, I'm sure it would have worked great, but she isn't ready for Americana just yet. They then go back and do the chunking again on the copywork section. The kicker is the answers are on the previous page, with faces the copywork. I had them cover the original and then us it to check their work after.
- Dictation - The last two days of the week are used for dictation. They begin as usually, reading and chunking the passage. This is nice and familiar to them by now so they are relaxed and not anxious about dictation. For dictation time, I would read aloud the story again to them, stopping at the end of each sentence. Again, they go for 10 minutes and stop, whether they are finished or not. The first day you do this, you are allowed to answer their questions on spelling and punctuation. At the end, they count how many words they spelled correctly. The last day of the week, you shouldn't help them with spelling but still can with punctuation. Again, at 10 minutes, they stop and count their correct words.
He really enjoyed this program. He never complained about doing it, which is huge since he complains about most schoolwork. ;o) He liked the stories - all about American history and things that were familiar to him. He liked that he knew it wouldn't take more than 30 minutes, even if he piddled around...which he didn't do. I was impressed with how well he did on the dictation parts and I know the chunking all week really helped that. He was able to visualize the words and quirky patterns that our language is so full of, and have success.
Overall, this is a huge win in our home! There are five levels available so far with two more in the works. For the program, you need the student books (it's divided into two books), the teacher's book, and colored pencils or highlighters. If you buy the set off the Spelling You See site, all this is included. There are 36 weekly lessons with 5 days in each lesson. On the weeks we have CC on Monday, we did the 5th lesson on Saturday or Sunday. They really do only take about 30 minutes so you can squeeze it in easily.
Like I mentioned before, this isn't divided into grades. Americana says it is "basically" for kids who are over 8 and strong readers, or over 10 and strong readers but struggling spellers. T probably could have done the next level, American Spirit, but I wanted him to have success and to master these "easier" paragraphs before we move on. I'm glad we started here. Him enjoying it really does make a huge difference. We will definitely not go back to our old spelling for a while and continue with this. It is clicking with him so I'm not going to stop!
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