1. You give the student ten spelling words.
  2. You ask them to write each one three times, write the definition, and write each one in a sentence.
  3. You tell them they will have a test on Friday.
  • What if the student already knows how to spell the words? Why should s/he do all this rote mindless work for words s/he already knows how to spell?
  • Copying can be mindless, and you can do it without even noticing much about the word, since you can look back.
  • And why the definition if it is a basic word that everyone knows the meaning to?
  • And what if s/he doesn't know how to spell them by the end of the week? Do you just let that go?



  1. You ask the students to look through your writing work folder from last week, and find ten words marked as misspelled.
  2. You ask them to write them in their neatest handwriting as your spelling list for the week. Their partner will put a star by the one they think has the best handwriting.
  3. Then the student will write one tip for remembering the spelling next to each word.
  4. Next, the student will write as many words as you can think of that have the same spelling pattern. They will see if you can figure out how that spelling pattern came to be (language of origin etc.)
  5. On Wednesday, student pairs will give each other a quiz on your words.
  6. If the student get it wrong again, they work with a partner to think of a visual or auditory way to remember this word that tricks you.
  7. On Friday, your partner will do a final quiz just on any words you missed on Wednesday.
  8. If you miss it again, you will put it on next week's list until you master it.
  • This involves higher level thinking skills, creating a way to remember a missed word, and noting patterns in language. 
  • It is designed for the social nature of children. The student will try harder when the peer is putting. star by the best handwriting and when a peer is giving the test. The student is pushed and expected to master them all - not to just give up, which speaks to a child's love for a challenge and your belief that they can master them.
  • Finally the curriculum is connected to the heart of the subject. You don't learn to spell for spelling tests (which don't exist outside of schools). You spell in order to present yourself intelligently in your writing. The curriculum is connected to something you know the child needs to learn. These are actual words they are misspelling in their writing. No one is at too high a level a challenge or too low.