I am a bad speller. There is no easy way to explain how spelling and the millions of rules frustrate me. I could pass most spelling tests with out a problem, but a week later I wouldn’t be able to spell any of the words. I still struggle horribly as an adult. Unfortunately, AJ is just as bad of a speller as I am. We have tried quite a few different ways of working on spelling. We tried memorizing lists, playing games, and copy work. Each thing helped a little bit, but she needed more.
Thankfully we were given the chance to review a new product from Spelling You See, Spelling You See: Ancient Achievements Level F. We received the Student Workbook Part 1, Student Workbook Part 2, the Instructor’s Handbook, and a package of erasable colored pencils. We were excited to get started.
What is Spelling You See: Ancient Achievements?
Ancient Achievements is level F in the series and is the last book for kids who are in the “skill development stage” of spelling. Spelling You See takes a completely different approach than most spelling programs. There are no lists of words to memorize, and there are no tests. Spelling You See isn’t based on grade or age level, it is based on spelling ability. I highly recommend reading all about Spelling You See’s Spelling Philosophy. I found it very eye opening and thought that it explained exactly why both AJ and I have such difficulty with spelling.
If there are no spelling lists, how does it work?
On the first day of the week your student reads a passage. Ancient Achievements has selections about all kinds of different things from Ancient History. Some of the passages AJ has worked on include; cave paintings, cuneiform, and mummies.
After reading the passage the student goes through and chunks parts of the words by boxing them in with an assigned color. AJ used the colored pencils that came with the program, but you could also use highlighters. On each page the types of chunks they need to look for are listed. In the beginning of the book it starts with just vowel chunks, then it goes onto consonant chunks. Further into the book they are introduced to bossy r chunks, ending chunks, silent letters, and the tricky Y guy.
After reading and chunking the passage your student then copies a portion of the passage and chunks it. The copying portion is limited to 10 minutes.
They continue with the same routine on the same passage for the first three days of the week. Day three has an additional feature called Spotlight. In this section a little bit more about words is explained. In the teacher’s guide there are optional activities to practice the topic that the Spotlight is focusing on. Some of the topics we have come across so far are; rhyming words, root words, and different Latin root meanings.
On day 4 they read and chunk the passage, but instead of copying it, they write it from dictation. On day four you are able to help them if needed. After 10 minutes the dictation is stopped and they count how many words they got right.
Day 5 is similar to day 4 except this time you don’t help at all with the dictation. The next week they move onto a different passage and the process begins again.
The teacher’s guide is necessary for the program. It has the passages for dictation, the correct chunking patterns, and ideas for the Spotlight section.
How did we use it?
We do school four days a week, so I was a little bit unsure of how to work the program. We decided to start in the middle of the week and just did the next day’s work each day. It worked out really well.
On the first day I read the passage to AJ and then she read it to me. We took it line by line and she chunked the passage as we went. I had the teacher’s guide open so that I could make sure she found all of the words that needed to be chunked. Then I set the timer and had her copy the passage. I was expecting a fight since she hates to write, but it went very well. Our biggest issue was that after the 10 minutes was up, she wasn’t finished writing. She didn’t like leaving the page partway unfinished so she finished it anyways.
After the first week we decided to get rid of the timer and just let her work until she was finished. Most days it took her about fifteen minutes to finish copying everything.
The second and third day she did mainly on her own other than reading the passage to me. The first day of dictation was the most difficult for AJ, because of one rule, no erasing. The student isn’t aloud to erase during the dictation, instead they are to cross off the word that is spelled wrong. It took a little bit to get use to, but now she knows she can’t erase. On the 5th day I would dictate the passage to her again and she would see if she could get more words correct on the second dictation.
What do we think?
When the books came in the mail I was sure that I would love the program. I wasn’t expecting AJ to love it too! She completes the spelling each day without an issue, but the best part is that I am seeing the skills transfer over to her other writing. When she is writing a word and needs me to spell it she often asks if it has any chunks in it. I have also noticed that she is remembering the words she is working on each week . The other day she was working on history and remembered how to spell archeologist, and that was a word she wrote a few weeks ago!
The only thing we didn’t like was the amount of room given to copy the passage. AJ has large handwriting and found it difficult to fit all of the words on the line. Surprisingly, after the first week, she started writing smaller and was able to fit everything in.
Overall she enjoys it, she is learning from it, and it is helping her to become more confidant. She enjoys the passages, and most of all enjoys the chunking. To her trying to find all of the chunks was like a puzzle. This is a program that I plan to stick with. I would recommend Spelling You See to anyone who has a child who is struggling with spelling, for us it is the perfect fit!