Spelling You See
Chunking, copywork, and dictation. Those three skills encapsulate the Spelling You See (SYS) program from Demme Learning (the Math-U-See people). To obtain "good spelling skills" means that correctly spelled words are locked in long term memory, ready to be plunked down into writing assignments and used in emails without the benefit of spell-checkers. Remembering letter patterns and using words in context provide the not-so-secret pathway to long-term spelling mastery. Spelling You See delivers a systematic and easy-to-use methodology for recognizing letter patterns and developing visual memory by the repetitious use of words in context.
The Spelling You See methodology employs chunking (identifying and color-marking the letter combinations) in a real-life informative passage to identify the spelling rules in words and then copywork (first) and dictation (follow-up) to solidify the word's visual picture and send it to long-term memory. It works! With SYS, you can totally avoid the learned-by-Friday, forgotten-by-Monday nature of weekly spelling list programs; there are no weekly spelling lists or tests.
Identifying five developmental stages of spelling, SYS then targets their levels to these stages. Stage I is Preliterate; students are learning about the printed page and the flow of reading material based on their literary environment. Stage II, Phonetic, is an auditory stage where students become able to distinguish the individual sounds that make up spoken words. Stage III, Skill Development, is learning effective ways to deal with the phonics exceptions. Repetition over several years is necessary at this stage. In Stage IV, Word Extension, the focus is on syllables, prefixes and suffixes. Lastly, Stage V, Derivational Constancy, looks for word root patterns.
Movement through these developmental stages is sequential as each stage builds on the previous one. Spelling stages do not necessarily correspond to reading levels - an excellent reader can still struggle with spelling. Developing a strong visual memory is the underlying skill set that is critical for progressing through the stages which also don't necessarily conform to grade levels. [Any grade level assignments noted on our listings is for the convenience of our customers and have not been assigned by the authors of the program.] The consistency and repetition of the SYS daily work builds visual memory. Please note the skills associated with each level to determine good placement for your student; placement guidelines are available from www.spellingyousee.com.
All levels have 36 weeks of lessons, each providing daily activities for five days. Course components include an Instructor Handbook plus a two-volume set of Student Workbooks (except Level A which has only a single Student Workbook).
The Instructor Handbooks include an introduction that reviews the SYS philosophy, outlines the five developmental stages, and provides curriculum sequence and placement guidelines. The rest of the book contains the specifics for that particular level. These include a Getting Started section, Lesson-by-Lesson Instructions, a Weekly Activity Guide, and a Frequently Asked Questions section that addresses random issues that may arise.
An Answer Key for each level is included in the back of the Instructor's Handbook. These answer keys are full-color and show the highlighting and underlining (in appropriate colors) that the student is being asked to do (which also simplifies the grading process). Each level has an online page with links to additional materials and resources. The website and an access code are included with each Instructor Handbook.
Weekly lessons follow a consistent pattern that includes guided reading, chunking (marking words), copywork, and dictation. Each week also features special activities that vary with the level. For instance, Level C has "No Rule Day" with activities to encourage writing. Each level has its own theme. Informative passages in each of the weekly lessons relate to this theme. These passages vary in length from lists of words in Level A to rhymes in Level B, to 60 or so words in Level C, to 100 or so words in Level G. Each weekly lesson starts with reading the passage. All passages are included in the Resources section of the Instructor Handbook.
Chunking is the colorful heart of the SYS program and it's easy to see why the consistent color-coding of the passage words develops visual memory. Chunking involves identifying a phonics pattern within words and highlighting it. Types of chunks are highlighted with specific colors. For instance, vowel chunks are yellow, consonant chunks are blue, bossy r' is purple, silent letters are orange, and tricky y' guy is green. Although the colors don't vary, different levels focus on different chunks. The lessons, especially those in the earlier levels, include instructions on how to identify the chunks.
Chunking, highlighting, and copying the passage make up the activities for the first three days weekly. The third day often incorporates an additional activity: perhaps exercises, perhaps composition. The last two days are reserved for dictation (the same passage, but written from hearing it read). Dictation days are skill building days (not tests). The student is encouraged to write a word several times to see which way looks right (to catch sloppy copy).
The two Student Workbooks provide ample space for all the written work (with perforated pages for easy removal if you choose). Artwork is generous, colorful, and pertains to each level's theme. Students need a regular pencil and colored pencils or highlighters to complete lessons. Workbook sets B-G each include a good-quality set of erasable colored pencils. ~ Janice