Look, Cover, Write, Check

I was watching my granddaughter doing her homework. She opened the spelling book and turned to a specially folded page. On one side was a list of words and the other half of the page was folded so she could cover the list and write on the back of it. It was a ‘look, cover, write, check’ exercise. It was easy for the teacher to set. She got most of the words correct, because if she didn't know how to write it, she would have another peek at the list and check, so she could write it correctly. After all, it was only grandpa watching, and what would he know?

In my mind, I had several questions that concerned me with the exercise. The first is "how many times did students need to do a ‘look, write, cover, check‘ to have the word permanently embedded in their understanding? Is that type of practise enough to ensure that several weeks or a term later they would still be able to spell the word, if they were given an impromptu test. Or how many times do they need to do the ‘cover, write, check,‘ process before they will get excited enough about the word to spell it correctly and use it when they're writing or in their speech.

Spelling is about enabling children, not only to recognise a word, but eventually incorporate it into their speech or writing. An interesting question for me is, ‘How much improvement in word usage is there in a child’s writing that can be attributed to me as a teacher rather than just general maturation?’

 So, my question is how many times do we need to use ’Look, cover, write, check’ with the same list of words to make learning of a word complete? I suppose  it leads to the question 'how effective is my spelling process within the whole class? When I give a spelling test on Friday, is my spelling teaching of that list of words done and I can move onto the next list with every child? What am I doing with the mistakes children make? Do I record them? Do I enlist parent or other help?  The answer should be that I need to keep going until I know that if I give an impromptu test, or pick up a written language book and find that the words that I have had in my spelling list several weeks before will all be spelt correctly.

Finger Spelling and Model Making.

Using Word ModelUsing Word Model Acticvity

Reading and spelling are difficult for some children to comprehend and gain competence in. These two areas have different outcomes. Reading is recognising a word and being able to comprehend its meaning and to use that comprehension in predicting the words that are likely to come next and to understand what a story or passage is about. Sometimes that comprehension pushes the reader into a guessing procedure which may give a similar or appropriate word but the wrong word nevertheless.

Complexities within a word.

Using a complexity number to help select appropriate words for a spelling list.

For those of us who can read and enjoy doing so regularly, it is an easy task, and we are bewildered by the problems of those students that can't. Strangely, some of those that read well cannot spell.

The learning issues that surround reading and writing are very complex. They involve issues of memory, of seeing and vision, of hearing and with writing, the need for hand control.

Comprehension-Steps through learning.

For many of the children you see, a large amount of what is written is learned quickly and without effort. There will always be a minority that struggle. This list is to give some direction as to what to look for and to take time to remedy. I would like to highlight that when you see a consistent spelling error in written language we should consider the issue in a deeper matter, that is, maybe it is a symptom of something significant ‘a learning difficulty’.  

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