Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hey there spellers!

So one of my upcoming picture books, Abigail Spells, is a story about a bird (featured here) who likes to spell, and enters a spelling bee. In the interest of accuracy, I am researching spelling bees; appropriate words for different age levels (state literacy standards), procedures, etc. There is a lot of information online, and I've already interviewed my teacher friends, but I thought maybe all you great teachers, librarians, parents, and former spelling champs out there reading our blog might have some first hand experience you'd be willing to share.

I am especially interested in spelling bees held for young kids (1st and/or 2nd graders), and ones at schools, though I know that is not the only place they are held. Here is what I'd like to know:

-At what age/grade do kids switch from phonetic, or sounded-out spelling, to standard spelling? When do teachers start correcting the spelling on their homework? I know this is a very individual thing, I've gotten answers from anywhere from Kindergarden to 2nd grade... what has been your experience?

-Has anyone out there been to a spelling bee in recent past, or had one at your school? If so, which grades participated? Was it part of the curriculum, or an after school/enrichment type of thing?

-I've been looking at word lists for spelling bees (by grade) online, is there a good resource for this that you know of? I've heard the "four blocks" literacy model is a standard one.... but I'd love to know of more!

Thanks in advance for your help, little future spellers will thank you!


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
We (at the Children's Book Shop) used to participate in a grown-up spelling bee/fundraiser in Brookline each year. They also held a children's bee, and Terri (owner of the bookshop) chose the words and was the 'judge' for several years. I don't remember what ages participated, but if you gave her a call, she could tell you about it as well as probably give you some of her wordlists!

Mary Lee said...

I posted your request for help. We'll see if any of our teacher readers can give you some information!

Anonymous said...

I have a list of the old 5th grade spelling bee words from my school's spelling bee two years ago. I can send it to you if you leave a comment at my blog with your email address.

Hope this'll help!


Katie Dicesare said...

I just read your request for help at A Year of Reading. I am a first grade teacher and have trouble explaining the first part of your question to many parents (when do kids graduate from phonetics and when do we expect them to be spelling correctly). I think because spelling, what some educators call word study (you know it varies among states, districts and schools) is the new spelling. I am writing an article about reading and writing routines that support word study(spelling) in my primary classroom. I am no expert but I was thinking it may explain how some teachers are tackling spelling these days. Please feel free to email me at katied@wideopenwest.com if you think this might help.

Anonymous said...

I've had spelling bee participants for the last 6 years. There are lots of ways to run a bee. My kids were given a written test in class. The highest scoring student in each class went to a school wide oral bee which was run like the national bee. Each school sent their winner to the district bee which was a written test.

Schools vary widely in their spelling curriculum. In my school district, the spelling curriculum for K-2nd grade is the 500 most commonly occuring words in print. More than half of those words are not phonetically regular. Older students get a more traditional spelling text but the teachers supplement on their own because it's not hard enough. I've volunteered for years doing a greek and latin based spelling list for the kids who are bored silly by the spelling program even with the enrichment their teachers provide.

School districts tend to chose the "literacy model" of the moment, but good teachers always supplement and innovate.
I hope this helps. Good luck with your project.


Anna Alter said...

Thanks for your help everyone, this is great!!

Rosanne, with all your experience, if you have a word list for 1st or 2nd grade I would LOVE to see it! If you have time to send it along, my email is anna at annaalter dot com... or you could post it here of course.

Thanks again for sharing all the great first hand teacher knowledge! Much appreciated!