How to Use a Spelling Journal
The trickiest English words to spell are ones that include sounds that can be spelled in multiple ways. For example, /ā/ can be spelled ai as in plain, ay as in way, ea as in great, or with five other spellings.
What is a Spelling Journal?
A Spelling Journal provides a system for collecting, categorizing, and analyzing these troublesome words so they can be understood and mastered. The Spelling Journal does not need to include sounds that have only one option for spelling, such as short /ă/. This is because if the student knows the phonograms, when she hears /ă/ she will know how to spell the sound because there is only one choice.
How does it work?
The Spelling Journal is organized first by sounds, and then by spellings. The gray box in the top corner of each page represents the sound. The Sound to Spelling Reference helps students locate the correct page for the sound in question.
Once you’ve found the sound, look at the letters across the top of the page to find the column for a specific spelling. Most spellings have additional hints beneath them, such as any relevant spelling rules, to guide the student in their use. The student can then record the word he or she is currently learning in the appropriate column. Over time, continue to collect and organize tricky words in this way, writing words represented by that spelling in each column.
The Spelling Journal is also an excellent place to collect words that are frequently misspelled and words with less common spellings. Highlight the spelling of the targeted sound or write it in red.
Why should I use a Spelling Journal?
Using a Spelling Journal can help you:
- Discover which phonograms and spelling rules are most commonly used.
- Learn which phonograms and rules are infrequently used.
- Narrow memorization to the sounds which have multiple options for spelling.
- More clearly understand your options for spelling a given sound.
- Mentally organize your knowledge about words.
Finally, the Spelling Journal can be used as a personal reference tool. It is a place to collect troublesome words and organize them in such a manner as to target the problematic phonogram. By writing the word, highlighting the sound, and looking it up, most students find that within a short time they have the word mastered.
As students learn the phonograms and spelling rules that govern the spelling of English words, the amount of memorization required for spelling proficiency decreases dramatically. However, since many English words do have sounds with multiple permitted spellings, there is still a need for memorization before students master which option to use in a given word. This requires practice and time. The Spelling Journal is a powerful resource for simplifying this process, and a great reference for students to build and consult along the way.
The Spelling Journal is designed to accompany our Essentials curriculum and is scheduled in the Essentials lessons. It may also be used as a supplement to any systematic phonics program or as a way for any student who is learning the phonograms and spelling rules to record and organize challenging words.