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Spelling tests: Pros, cons and alternatives

Presentation for UBC IOP May 7, 2011

Kate Murdoch

on 13 November 2013

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Transcript of Spelling tests: Pros, cons and alternatives

Spelling tests: pros, cons and alternatives
Do you think spelling matters?
Yes, all of the time.
Some of the time.
Not at all.
What are your reasons?
Let's see how you do...
Spelling test answers:
1. Definitely
2. Sacrilegious
3. Indictment
4. Manoeuvre
5. Accommodation
6. Occurrence
7. Responsible
8. Consensus
9. Unnecessary
10. Privilege
Led to questioning the value of spelling in general...
What purpose does it serve?
when does it matter?
where does it matter?
My question: Is there value in spelling tests?
Surprise! where are the resources?
three journal articles discussed
studies based on varying approaches
to spelling tests as well as one alternative
“A Comparison of Daily and Weekly Testing on Student Spelling Performance” by Guza and McLaughlin (1987)
Research conducted to compare a Baseline spelling test (traditional method) with a Daily partial list method.
Baseline tests are administered once a week to test a list of twenty words.
Partial daily list tests are administered every day of the week - five words are given and tested the following day with a cumulative test on Friday of all words learned that week.
Results? “The results of the present experiment indicated that the students did significantly better on the weekly spelling tests when they received a portion of the words each day and were tested daily than when they received all the words at the beginning of the week, without daily testing” (Guza & McLaughlin, 1987, p. 376).
“Almost all of the students felt that they were better spellers as a result of the program and probably felt better about themselves through their accomplishments” (Guza & McLaughlin, 1987, p. 376).
"Using Self-Correction to Improve the Spelling
Performance of Low-Achieving Third Graders" by Wirtz et al. (1996)
Wirtz et al. investigate the effect of self-correction on spelling test results.
Instead of daily class practice for the spelling test, the students individually prepare for the weekly spelling test by using an audio recorded list of the spelling words and they then self-correct their work.
Researchers also tested the effect of self-correction on the student’s ability to generalize – meaning to be able to spell the words a week or two after the spelling test.
Results? Positive improvement was seen in the weekly spelling tests and in the students ability to generalize.
an alternative?
“No More Friday Spelling Tests?” by Kelly Loeffler (2005)
Loeffler delves into her first two years as a teacher who used the traditional spelling test simply because that is all she knew – no one had taught her to teach spelling in any other way.
Students were quick to jump to rote memorization.
Traditional spelling test did nothing to show which spelling strategies the student was using.
She created a spelling rubric - it “can measure the student’s ability to find misspelled words, correct them, and use an appropriate spelling strategy” (Loeffler, 2005, p.24).
This replaces a weekly spelling test - students are told in advance that a writing assignment will be graded with the rubric.
She stresses the importance of modeling how to edit and use spelling strategies (example: dictionary) with students and the value of a one-on-one student conference after a written assignment has been evaluated, where spelling strategies can be further discussed.
“When our spelling is perfect, it's invisible. But when it's flawed, it prompts strong negative associations.”
- Marilyn vos Savant (american author)
“You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY…but spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count.”
- Rabbit from Winnie the pooh
Full transcript