Thursday, December 25, 2008

TOS Review: All About Spelling

All About Spelling is a complete spelling program from beginning non-reader to high school level. When complete, there will be 6 levels of the program. Currently there are 4 levels available with a new level planned each year. All About Spelling uses Orton Gillingham Approach to teaching spelling. This program works well with non-readers to children needing remedial spelling help, to everyone in between. The program is not dumbed down, so an older learner or even adult will not feel "babied."

What is Orton Gillingham Approach and why is is more superior method of teaching spelling? Here is info from the website (click here):

Multisensory—it is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Students learn best when we teach using all the available pathways to the brain: seeing, hearing, saying, and writing.
Sequential—students are taught concepts in a logical sequence.
Incremental—each lesson carefully builds upon the previous lesson. Lessons progress from simple to more complex.
Cumulative—the method integrates constant review of previously-taught concepts.
Individualized—to meet the unique needs of each student.
Based on phonograms
—the student is taught what he needs to know in a direct manner.

You can learn more info about Samuel T. Orton on the All About Spelling Website or at Wikipedia.

The components of the program consist of for each level:

Teacher Guide Book for each level. A necessary component of the program. Tells you want to do with each lesson. No prior knowledge needed. Read through the introduction and some helps and your on to lesson one. Each lesson spells out specifically what to do with each lesson. What is new and what is review. More on this later...

Activity Material Packet for each level - includes Phonogram Cards (for visual and verbal review) used for each level, Sound Cards (aural and tactile review), Key Cards (reinforce new concepts), and Word Cards (aural, verbal, and tactile review.) Plus some additional items depending on the level.
Duplicates only needed if more then one student will be working on a level at one time. However, when I was doing level two, I had to use the phonogram cards for review from the level one. So if you begin after level one, you may need to purchase additional phonogram cards.

***Your initial purchase of the All About Spelling Set for each level includes the Teacher Guide and the Activity Materials Packet.***

Spelling Tiles - A necessary component of the program. The tiles of each phonogram are color coded to help them learn the phonograms faster. Also available, to purchase separately, are magnets to put on the spelling tiles to help them to stick to a magnetic board (store bought or home made.) The magnets help anchor the tiles to the board when working and are a helpful addition.

Also of help, but not necessarily required, but highly recommended:

Phonogram Audio CD-Rom - Consist of a screen with all the phonograms listed in their proper colors. When you click on them they say their name(s). I was pleasantly surprised with this simple tool. I left it up on the computer and they would stop by several times a day and just sit and listen and say the sounds. My older children got in on it also. This was a great help in them mastering their phonograms.

Also available as an optional purchase is Phonogram Bingo to review phonograms and Phonogram File Folder Games to review Phonogram Cards, Sound Cards, Key Cards, and Rule Cards. This are available in PDF format for immediate download after purchase.

Set up for the program consisted of cutting up the phonogram tiles and the activity cards. Then we set up the Spelling Review Box.

Next, you need to learn the phonograms. Having used a similar program in the past, I was familiar with the phonogram as was my son, who I am working through the program. But if you don't know the first 26 phonograms you need to learn them before starting step one, where you will introduce these. You will learn all the sounds a phonogram makes right from the beginning (c makes /k/ and /s/ sounds.)

Then we learned how to set up the Letter Tiles for the lessons. We only put down the initial letters A to Z in step 3. I like this exercise and have my son set up the tiles for each lesson to help him learn the letters and put them in alphabetical order. We use a homemade black board that we had painted with magnet paint before putting on the black board paint. As the program progresses you add more phonograms to the board when setting it up.

Having used a program similar to this before that required a lot of teacher preparation, I was pleasantly surprised at how user friendly this program is. Each step is specifically laid out so that after the initial prep work, you can just pick it up each day and use it.

A basic lesson (or step) would go like this:

-Review of Phonogram Cards, Sound Cards, Key Cards and Word Cards.

-New Teaching: Here new information is taught and what you need to say is written out for you and also explained. There are often extra teacher helps to help you with new concepts.

-The child spells a list of words from tiles, then on paper. More words are available for reinforcement for each step.

-Words taught follow a similar pattern. For instance short "a" words are taught together in one lesson (at, bag, hat, map, etc.) In another lesson later on, plurals are taught in one step. You can spend more time on a step as needed for your child to master the topic, but they also will be reviewing the material at each step. At the start of each level the child is brought through a quick review of the previous level book.

-Then by the end of level one, the child will be dictated phrases, then on other levels sentences are dictated with each step.

-We filled in the honey comb spelling progress chart for each step as we completed it. Which we kept hung up on the wall.

I did email the author and asked about what they use to teach reading. She explained that is program was exactly what she used to teach reading. It is not called a reading program because of the lack of reading material. However, they are in the process of developing these. After spelling the words, I would have my child read me the word cards. We also used McGuffey's Readers to supplement this program for the reading aspect and he did well.

Like I said previously, I enjoyed the fact that I did not have to take a class, watch a video, or read an entire book before being able to begin with my child. Everything you need to do with each step is spelled out completely for you, no guessing or worrying you forgot something. The steps are incremental and I could see progress and a smile on my son's face as he got each lesson. It made more sense to do each lesson on the same theme then isolated words with different rules you needed to mark. Review of the rules is built into the program on the key cards. You just need review the rules already covered.

We hope to continue to use this program all the way through and look forward to the next levels as they come out. This is the best, most complete and easiest spelling programs we have used!

You can find tons of information, articles, and spelling helps at the All About Spelling website regardless of what spelling curriculum you use. They also offer free weekly spelling tips sent to your email box. Plus you can get a free report "20 Best Tips for Teaching Spelling" when you sign up for the spelling tips.

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