Spelling for Whole Language Classrooms

by Ethel Buchanan (Whole Language Consultants, available through Richard C. Owen, 1989 ISBN 0-921253-17-6.) Professional Book.
This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.


Ethel Buchanan's Spelling for Whole Language Classrooms is an attempt to make connections between a theory of spelling development, instruction and evaluation. Breaking spelling into the stages commonly accepted by researchers in the field, Buchanan then suggests instructional strategies for each stage. For the pre-phonetic speller, she suggests the following:

"Use names.
Respond to requests of 'How do you write _____?"
Demonstrate spelling.
Read to children.
Use alphabet cards.
Converse with children.
Talk to parents."

For the early phonetic speller:

"Use letters of the alphabet in a variety of ways.
Take dictation.
Read Big Books.
Use poems and nursery rhymes.
Rebuild Nursery Rhymes.
Encourage students to use what they know."

For the advanced phonetic speller:

"Use alphabet cards.
Have children write each day.
Use Uninterrupted Sustained Silent Writing.
Complete sentence patterns.
Model poems.
Combine brainstorming with the use of alphabet cards.
Have students read orally in a variety of ways.
Talk to parents."

For the phonic speller:

"Accept misspellings, but supply appropriate feedback.
Use poetry.
Create spoonerisms.
Post a snare board.
Clap syllables.
Write every day.
Talk with your students about spelling.
Use visual imagery.
Use auditory memory.
Play games."

For the syntactic-semantic speller:

"Find out what students believe about spelling.
Use minimal cues.
Do daily edits.
Assist students with homophones.
Schedule brief spelling conferences with each child.
Have students keep spelling notebooks.
Engage with some fun activities with words."

Like everything else, that list will have far more meaning for you in the context of Buchanan's book where she supplies the rationale, explanation and examples of each.