The Inner Spellist

When I work with high school students in my writing classes, I see tangible improvements in grammar and punctuation usage. I see the ability to compose a paragraph come to life. I also see timed essays worth scores of 5 and 6 but for one thing: spelling errors galore.

Is it common for students to make great strides in grammar, punctuation, and other writing skills but still not be able to spell their way out of a wet paper bag? It certainly is. Spelling occurs in a specific part of the brain. Handwriting has its part, and composing (getting thoughts on paper) has its part. Structuring sentences, choosing words, using punctuation, typing, and so on, each use a different part of the brain. Insisting that the act of writing — complete with proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation — is one big skill that a kid can master simply by writing more is one of the worst forms of educational malpractice out there.

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The Homophone Game

Here’s something for other writing teachers out there – a homophone game!

This game will work with 1 to however many students you have. One student might keep a tally of how many answers he gets right in a round. Multiple students can compete against each other, or you can use a group elimination approach as I describe below.

I was cleaning out my shelves and ran across Susan Anthony’s Spelling Homophone book and was looking through how I might use it in my classes next year. Some students really struggle with they’re/there/their, to/too/two, and your/you’re/yore, etc. mistakes, so instead of making a bunch of boring worksheet handouts, I thought of a game to play instead.

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