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Teaching spelling

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The Five Myths of Phonics

This simple word, defined by Merriam Webster as a method of teaching people to read and pronounce words by learning the sounds of letters, letter groups, and syllables , has been at the center of an educational debate that has continued for over a century. The debate has been so...

What is a Schwa? Helping Students Read and Spell the Schwa Sound

Schwa may be the most misunderstood sound in English. Most people have heard of schwa, but it is rare that a teacher or a student knows that: Every vowel may say the schwa sound Schwa is the most common sound in every dialect of English Schwa may sound like /ŭ/...

Introducing Spelling Rule 31!

We're introducing a new spelling rule to teach students about schwa! This blog post builds on a three-part series we posted in August on understanding vowels , consonants , and syllables. If you didn't see them, they are a great starting point, as they clarify several foundational concepts related to...

Spell Check Is Not The Solution

One of my favorite questions to ask audiences is, "Raise your hand if you have ever abandoned the perfect word while typing because spell check didn't recognize your attempts." What I have discovered is that more than 90% of the American public has had this frustrating experience. Yet across the...

Reasons for Silent Final E's

There is a common myth in English that many of the silent final E's were once pronounced. In reality more than 98% of silent final E's fulfill a purpose within the language and were added either as a diacritic marker or to serve a linguistic or grammatical purpose. The eight...

Shame and Vowels: The Story of a Struggling Reader

Vowel sounds highlight the concept of phonemic awareness and the ability to both glue words back together and break them into their individual sounds. Recently, I had this driven home to me when I was working with a sixth grader whom I tutor. This student has been in the public...

Addressing Cynical Students

Providing Real Help to Struggling Readers Many parents and teachers feel discouraged when their enthusiasm for the Logic of English is not met with equal enthusiasm by their struggling reader or speller. As the student's parent or teacher, you see the advantage of teaching spelling rules and phonograms and may...

The Dark Ages of Written English

In many ways, we are in the midst of the dark ages of written English. Okay, maybe that is a bit overstated... But humor me for a moment. Sixty percent of students read below grade level! Only three percent of adults read at the highest level of proficiency. Countless adults...

Spelling Kills Creativity!

At a recent in-service a teacher raised her hand and said, "I hate that there is a right way to spell a word. Correcting spelling kills creativity!" This teacher expressed one of the doubts at the center of the literacy debate: Don't rules limit children's creativity? As humans we are...

How Torture Reading Helped Denise Discover The Logic of English

As I have spoken around the country, I have discovered a pervasive affliction: English spelling appears inconsistent, illogical, and for some impossible. This ache resides not only within our schools: public, private, and home, but within the hearts of professionals who cannot spell, parents who cannot answer their children's questions,...