Leatherneck Blogger

Spelling Lesson in Jackson, Missouri Schools

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

This week’s topic will be devoted to spelling in Jackson R-2. As most of you are aware when the  2009-2010 school year began 3 years ago you were told that the district would no longer be teaching spelling via weekly spelling tests because they didn’t want your kids to memorize a list of words, they wanted them to learn how to spell them using the rule method or other various methods. Upon hearing this information many, if not all, began to question this theory asking how will you know if my child can spell correctly if you don’t have tests to check their progress? This theory at the time was another fad teaching method that was being tried in various districts around the nation and Jackson R-2 felt the need to jump on board and experiment with your children’s future just like they did several years ago when they jumped onto the whole language spelling bus, no more phonics, only to have the wheels come flying off in a few years leaving your children plied up in heap of bad spellers.

As I mentioned earlier JacksonR-2 has once again jumped on another spelling bus that has not been proven and is in fact discouraged in recent studies by J. Richard Gentry, Ph.D., the very man that Jackson references in their current spelling program. In his books and articles he uses terms that you may have heard in the last few years like “writing workshop” and “word sorts” and “word games” all of which are followed by, in his expert opinion, as “WRECKS!!!” Dr. Gentry also in his expert opinion says that the best way to teach spelling is with a word list and the pretest- study-posttest format. You may ask yourself, if the man that the district uses as a reference says that tests are the best way to teach spelling then why are they not adhering to his advice? Why are our children being used as experimental game pieces? Who makes this decision to use this teaching method? Well the answer to all of those questions is quite simple, the Jackson R-2 School Board whether directly or indirectly have approved this practice and when parents and teachers come forward with concerns then it’s their job to make sure the wishes of the public are addressed.

Spelling is a crucial part of your child’s education as it lays the foundation for them to become good readers. The theory here in Jackson right now is backwards in their thinking that good readers make good spellers and I am sure that most of you can attest to the fact that your child may be reading fairly well but they consistently misspell words that they read every day. I am sure you all know that your elementary aged child does not have a spelling book that they bring home, if they have no spelling book then how does the teacher know what words are important for them to be able to spell? According to Dr. Gentry it is entirely too time consuming and too complex for teachers to choose words and implement a weekly spelling unit without the resources typically found in a good spelling book, so why don’t we have a spelling book? Poor management! Let me ask you this, could you read the following sentence if you had not been taught the proper spelling of these words in advance? I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. It is because your brain was trained the correct spelling of the words in the preceding sentence through practice, repetition, and memorization that you were able to read it even though the letters were jumbled.  A weekly word list and a weekly spelling test should not be looked at as taboo, it is essential; it is necessary, and it is the best possible way to teach your children to spell as research shows. Evidence to support this fact is present in the Junior High where some students are actually given weekly spelling lists and tests, which begs the question if it’s okay for Junior High why is it not okay for the elementary students where the foundations of spelling are supposed to be instilled? If elected to represent you the public and the parents on the Jackson R-2 School Board in April I will fight to bring spelling back into our classrooms so that our children are prepared for life in the 21st century.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 29, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Other

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