Spell Write

I was visiting a school recently and as I was leaving I spoke with the office manager/teacher aide who was individually testing a child on his Spell Write spelling list.

She would say the word, say it again in context and say the word again

This was great as it showed me that the teacher was trying to differentiate the learning for individual students to find out what they knew individually rather than testing groups of learners when many of them were maybe not ready for it or had already moved on.

What has always concerned me though was the time it takes to individually test children in this sort of way.

When teaching, to overcome this issue I made a recordings of myself administering the test using Garageband or Audacity on a PC. I then put those tracks into an iTunes playlist and put it on my iPod Nano or iPad.

I also made a template like this for children to record their words so they would know where they were up to.

This worked really well as the children could play the track at a pace that suited them and rewind words if they wanted to for clarification or if I was going too fast.

With permission from NZCER, the publishers of Spell Write, I share with you the audio of me reading Essential List One to give you the idea. It would take no more time for you to record yourself doing  this once for your whole class as it would to do it once for one child. And then you never have to do it again. I have the other audio tracks and list templates I am happy to share with you if you let me know.

I also linked to Spelling City website or iPad app on my the sidebar of our class blog so children could play games and test themselves on lists based on the Spell Write lists.

Here is the Spell Write List One words but I link to the rest as well so all children have access. You are welcome and encouraged to link to my other lists as well if you wish.


I found that doing these things meant that children could move at a pace and level that suited them- with some children making much accelerated progress.

Here are the links to the individual lists in Spelling City…

What do you do to differentiate the learning of the essential spelling words?

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 9.55.03 PM

8 thoughts on “Spell Write

  1. I think your idea of recording the spelling test for each essential list as a track on the class itunes list is a great idea. Not only does it allow each learner to do the test when they are ready and save the teacher a lot of time, but it reinforces children taking responsibility for their own learning.
    I’ve just finished doing these essential lists with my class this week. It has taken three large chunks of learning time, and I do this each term to check progress and determine each individual’s spelling lists for the term. Not all the children in my class do every level.
    I have a bottom line for each list they have to achieve before proceeding to the next list. If a child gets 100% in a list two terms in a row that list is considered to be achieved and they don’t do that list again that year during testing. The following February if they get 100% in that list again they don’t have to do it again that year either.
    After testing each list I record the words they got wrong in a table for each child to glue into the back of their language skills book, and these are the words they will use in their spelling lists that term. If they don’t have enough words for the whole term they use words from their writing books, etc., and I have a fabulous book called Spelling for Frustrated Teachers.
    I’ve found this programme to be very successful in increasing the spelling ability of my classes throughout the yesrs. I’m really proud of the progress my class has made this year. Some of my more spelling-challenged children has made amazing progress (I made a mother cry today when I told her how proud I am of het son’s spelling progress this year).
    Thanks for sharing what you do. I think I’ll give this a go because I think it will enhance what my programme does, free me up, alliw me to offer a wider variety of spelling tests outside of the essential lists and it will be another way to get the kids to take responsibility for their own learning.

  2. Hello. My name is Chelsea Hadley and I am in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. This post is so helpful. This is a wonderful thing to keep in mind as I am working towards to teaching degree. I really enjoyed reading this post and I plan to visit and read more post! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Yay,
    I am going to use spelling city next year and was facing the prospect of typing the essential lists in. Thank you for sharing your stuff so regularly.

  4. Hi
    Great to see the lists I created in Spelling city are being used by other NZ teachers. The teachers at my school love using this website to help them with the task of monitoring spelling.

  5. It looks like we’re all doing the same thing. Shame the Spell Write people don’t do it themselves and publicise it- then we wouldn’t all have to spend our evenings re-creating spelling lists.

  6. My name is Ashley Bigoney and I am in the class EDM310. This post is so interesting! I think it is so cool that the kids can do it on their own and go at their own pace. I am taking a Geography class online right now and it is formatted in the same way. At first I was worried about it, but now I love it. I love that I can learn on my own an go at a pace that best suits me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *