"You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way! ~ Dr. Seuss

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Individualized Spelling with One Test

Spelling tests have long been my nemesis.  It's always seemed like half of my students could spell the words before we even started the week and the other half couldn't spell them no matter how much practice they had.  Several years ago, I attended a workshop and learned about a simple way to give each child in your class an individualized spelling list...and only give one test on Fridays. (I have no idea who did the workshop or who sponsored it.  This is not my original idea and if anyone knows who it belongs to, please let me know so that I can give proper credit.)  I am going to do my best to explain the process for you.  It was a little confusing until I actually did it, but then it was quick and simple to set up for each week.

To get started, you will need a file folder for each student.  Cut 2 slits in the front cover, so that the folder has 3 flaps that can be raised.  Then, staple a Weekly Spelling Sheet inside.  Label the first flap "List".  Label the second flap "Pre-Test".  Label the third flap "Post Test".

To create the Weekly Spelling Sheet, choose 5 words that were spelled incorrectly on last week's test by the most students.

 Then, choose 5 more words.  These words should come from misspellings in student writings, commonly misspelled words, high-frequency word lists, etc.
 Finally, choose 5 more words.  These words should be challenging.  They can be from a unit of study, high-interest words, seasonal words, etc.
 On Monday, give a pretest.  Have students raise the Pretest flap only.  Dictate the first 10 words.  When you are done, check the tests with students.  Students mark any of the 10 words missed and circle the first five missed words.
 Next, students circle the same numbers on the post test. If students missed less than 5 words on the pretest, they choose words from words 11-15 so that they have 5 words total.  These are the student's words for the week.
 When you give the test at the end of the week, students only spell the words that are circled on their paper. 

I found this was a great way to individualize spelling so that all of my students were challenged.  Best of all, I was able to still give just one test on Fridays. I hope someone finds this useful.

Happy Blogging!


  1. WOW! What a great idea!! We have to use the spelling words given through our reading series, but I am thinking I can make this work. Thanks for sharing :)

    First Grade Fairytales

  2. That is clever! Same as Kelly I have to use the spelling words from our school series, but I can see how this could supplement it for either end of the spelling scale! Thanks
    Mrs Poultney's Ponderings

  3. I was just talking to another teacher about challenging those super spellers with hard words. I have tried many ideas in the past but management seemed to be an issue. Will have to try this great idea. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Amy, you have told me several times about your spelling process. I just love seeing how you have it set up. By the way, dear friend, I am "booing" you. Check out TIPS to see what to do.
    TIPS: Teach, Inspire, and Prepare Students

  5. We have to use the spelling list that goes along with our reading series, so I haven't done this for awhile. But, I have been thinking about it and I am going to start using it with my ESE students as a supplement. It won't be a grade, but I working out a way to use it as a weekly formative for phonics skills and writing. I will post an update soon. :)

  6. We have to use our series as well but this can still work I think. My question is how do you prevent kids from lifting the flaps that have the words written when you are testing? Because I know my kids will try.
    Third Grade Tidbits

    1. Gina,
      That can be a problem. I've found that by paper clipping the "Word List" flap from the left side helps a lot. Also, I really stressed when starting the need for the students to be honest and not look. With the lower grades, they love to report on each other so much that anyone who did try to look was immediately called out by a classmate. :)

  7. Hi Amy! Thanks for visiting my blog and becoming a new follower. I am working on my Master's at the College of Charleston. It's a great program and I am so excited to be a part of it. Thanks for asking! Love your Dr. Seuss quote! I'm a new follower of yours now!

    An Apple a Day in First Grade

  8. Amy, #1 I love the spelling idea. I don't teach a classroom right now because I am one of two ELL specialists in my building. #2, I love the fact that you are a seasoned teacher who blogs. I think we are few and far between. I just started blogging, so my blog is not as neat as many others, but it will get there. I don't know how to do the links, and buttons, and such but I am looking for a class in blogging and building web sites. ANyway, I have been teaching for 29 years and I still get up every day, thankful for the career I have, and thinking up something new to bring to my kiddos.