Getting started with SpellingPlay.co.uk
The resources were designed with a particular way of working in mind because this helped to give a structure and a focus to the process of creating them. This page gives a brief overview of this way of working and how the website is structured. Hopefully, this will clarify how things are organised and where things can be found but once you have got the hang of where everything is, feel free to pick and mix and use the resources in whatever way works best in your classroom.
The quick version
- Each half term pick a Spelling Planning Unit(4 weeks) and a 'Need to know' unit (HFW & cross curricular words etc) (2 weeks).
- Teach 3 x 20 minute sessions if possible(or whatever timings work in your timetable).
- For each unit, find subject knowledge and suggested activities for each stage of the teaching sequence in the plans on the site.
- Start with some activities from the revision section. Use what you find out to decide whether the unit is right for your children and how you will need to adapt it based on what they already know.
- Plan and teach the rest of the unit. Pick and mix ideas from the planning units and put them into your own planning, adapting them as much as you feel is necessary for your class.
- A range of interactive and printable resources to support the planning are available.
- Apply, apply, apply - as much as possible across the curriculum - otherwise, sadly, steps 1-6 will probably have been wasted as the learning is unlikely to be retained.
The more detailed version
There are two types of unit. One of each type of unit is covered in each half term.
Spelling units - These units cover spelling rules, conventions and strategies. There is one spelling unit for each half term. Each unit should take around 4 weeks to deliver.
'Need to know' units - These units will take up the other 2(ish) weeks in each half term. Children will work on learning specific words and strategies that they will need to know during that half term (HFW, cross-curricular words etc) and will develop their own skills and strategies in learning, rehearsing and having a go at unfamiliar words. There are example 'Need to know' planning units on the site but obviously these may need to be adapted to suit what particular classes and children need to know.
How often and for how long?
3 x 20 minute sessions each week. However, in the real world, schools all arrange their timetables differently and individual teachers have different preferences. The planning therefore consists of lots of short individual activities that can be tackled alone in short sessions or combined to make longer sessions.
The teaching sequence
This is the same as the teaching sequence for phonics.
However, in phonics, the entire teaching sequence is worked through in each session. In spelling, the teaching sequence may be worked through over a number of sessions.
Spelling units - Planning
Each planning unit is available as a pdf. Each planning unit includes:
- Learning objectives
- Subject knowledge
Essential prior knowledge that children need to have in place before beginning the unit.
Suggested activities for revisiting and assessing prior knowledge - to help determine whether the children are ready for this unit and collect information to help adapt and personalise the planning of the rest of the unit.
Suggested activities for teaching and practising new words, conventions and skills.
Suggested activities for applying and assessing what has been learned.
'Need to know' units - planning
There are sample plans for these units on the site. In particular there is one unit (intended to be used at the start of the year) that develops strategies and routines for having a go at spelling unfamiliar words. There are a range of units working on learning commonly used words e.g. HFW, numbers, months, mathematical vocabulary etc. However, these can be easily adapted to cover more specific words that particular children or classes may need to know in any given half term.
A growing selection of both interactive and printable resources are available to support a number of the suggested activities in the planning. Others are more open ended and can be used to rehearse skills in a number of different units.
Making spelling teaching work
On the teachers section of the site there is information to support applying, differentiation, learning environments, creating a positive attitude towards spelling etc, etc, etc.
The SpellingPlay monsters
There are a relatively small number of reasons why words can be challenging to spell. There are seven SpellingPlay monsters - each represents one particular type of challenge and/or strategies needed to overcome those challenges.
The monsters are used throughout the site and in many of the games to help demonstrate the links between learning in different units.
Hard to hear monsters - In some words, it is simply impossible to hear how to spell a particular sound. E.g. double letters, unsounded consonants, unstressed vowels, long vowel phonemes and homophones. Other strategies and knowledge are needed to confidently spell these words.
Word builder monsters - Many words are built up from bits. Root words, prefixes and suffixes combine to make new words and change meanings. Knowing the conventions for adding prefixes and suffixes makes these words much more straightforward to spell.
Word Family/Letter string monsters - Lots of words belong to families. They may all contain the same letter string (even if it is pronounced in different ways) or may all be derived from the same root word. Knowing about word families and common letter strings can give some handy clues about how to spell some tricky words.
Apostrophe monsters - Apostrophes can appear in shortened words or to show possession. It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting apostrophes in the wrong place. An understanding of the conventions for using apostrophes can help to avoid falling into these traps.
Have a go monsters - When writing independently, everyone sometimes has to have a go at spelling an unfamiliar word. Knowing good 'have a go' strategies is the best way to avoid wild guesses.
Learning strategy monsters - When we just need to learn how to spell a word there are lots of different strategies available. Different strategies work best for different words and different people.
Phonics monsters - A good knowledge of basic phonics allows us to spell most bits of most words. We can then focus our energies onto using other strategies for the trickier bits of words.