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Parenting a Child with LD or ADHD

Invented Spelling


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Feb 12, 2003 at 8:10:11 PM
Subject: Invented Spelling

Hello All,
Just looking for a little of your input. My daughter in the First grade is dyslexic, goes to Resource Room for reading, language arts and math. Her reg ed teacher does invented spelling. She showed me my daughters journal last week, and I was appalled. What is the benefit of this? I don't get it. How is this not confusing to a child? Maybe I just don't understand?
Comments?

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 12, 2003 8:43:00 PM

I agree, for an LD child its deadly. My 3rd grader is still using his invented spelling from 1st grade. I suspect for non LD kids its not a problem .

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 12, 2003 9:04:07 PM

I think the point of inventive spelling for the early grades is to separate spelling from the writing process. Most first graders are able to write ideas beyond their ability to spell, and it encourages them to write without worrying about the mechanics. This gradually disappears (or at least the tolerance of it does) by about third grade.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 4:03:31 AM

Invented spelling sounds a lot like the phonics program El Paso used to attempt to teach my son's kgarten/1st grade class to read with. It was a computer program called Write to Read. Words were spelled phonetically, the kids copied the words this way several times in a workbook. (like KAT) Found that my son was one of at least 3 kids from his kgarten class to be in reading remediation in 1st grade. I am sure there were more, I just wasn't in contact with all of the other moms.

My son didn't learn to read until the 2nd grade in Virginia. He qualified for sp.ed in 4th. He still struggles with school as a 13 yr old. I would RUN away from any program that isn't specific to the way a dyslexic child learns.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 9:16:33 AM

I blame invented spelling for my some of my son's problem. When he was in first they told him to "Just write, don't worry about spelling."

He learned to write this way and now in third they have a problem with the fact that he writes this way. He even misspells words he knows because he is supposed to "Just write."
I think this method is very confusing for the child.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 10:17:45 AM

It's bad for my kiddo. He has a reading and writing disability and has a great memory so he would spell words incorrectly and then memorize it. He relies on his strong memory to help him and he trusts his memory not to fail him. It's difficult to convince him that he has memorized words incorrectly.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 10:37:57 AM

Well, my viewpoint on invented spelling is that it's a wonderful technique for encouraging non-LD kids to jump right into writing. Like Eileen said, it separates writing from spelling so that kids can have fun with writing, without someone being judgmental about spelling. But it's a terrible technique for teaching kids with certain types of LD to write and spell, and probably reinforces their erroneous phoneme/grapheme connections over and over again. The trouble is that at the age inventive spelling is used in schools, the kids that have LDs haven't usually been identified yet.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 1:16:58 PM

Why not give them a tape recorder to use if what you want to do is unleash their creativity by having them compose stories?

I am not a professional educator, but have been working directly with(counseling, testing, job placement, etc.) students since 1974. Well, 1973 if you count grad school.

Somehow hearing about invented spelling makes me want to ask if invented arithmetic is commonly 'taught' also?

Sorry, I just don't get it.

John

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2003 1:47:54 PM
Subject:good idea

I know it is hard to get my child to write if I am helping her spell her words as she writes. It is frustrating for the child. John's idea is great to record the child's verbal story first so all the creativity comes out and then when putting it down on paper correcting the spelling then.By the way, I like the Spalding Method of spelling it is a visual technique and so far working well with my child.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 3:23:31 AM

are three very different tasks. Invented spelling is something that many adult dyslexic invented for themselves eons ago!!! I suspect that for a child who is unable to visually remember/recognize correct spellings, it is all invented spelling at any level.

We have picked our battles. Invented spelling, also inversions were permitted in brainstorming/concept maps/rough drafts when the point is to get language expression particluarly written language expression going. My daughter had some assignments that were dictated and but some had to be done in the writing process - brain storming, rough draft, editing, final draft. Otherwise how does she learn to write? Dictating is NOT writing.

At 6th grade, after remediation and vision therapy, she is able to do much more on her own but may always need a spellchecker, or even some editing help. I f you read Monney's book "Learning outside the lines" this 4.0 graduate of Brown had to fax his college papers home to Mom for final editing. Could be us in a few years.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 6:23:31 AM

Most 1st grade children cannot spell. In the old days, we didn't have children write until they could spell. Nowadays we think that writing is something every child should be doing right from the start.

How can they write when they cannot spell? Only by using 'invented spelling'.

Would you prefer that your daughter not write?

If though the misspellings cause you concern, you might try this. Allow your daughter to dictate her writing thoughts to you. Type them up on the computer as she speaks. Her 'writing' should flow then and you might be delighted by what a great little writer your child can be.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 7:15:10 AM
Subject:didn't work

We tried this, but then she can't listen to her story and type/write it down. So it's back up the tape again and again. Her teacher did say, "Just get it down - worry about spelling later - b/c my daughter tends to "freeze" and not get anything done (the perfectionist wants to spell everything correctly). We now uses a Dana/laptop which corrects most of her spelling (we need to use an auditory spellcheck at school - haven't got that on the IEP yet)

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 7:16:05 AM

//

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 7:18:00 AM

//

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 3:37:28 PM

I keep trying to preach a moderate viewpoint on this.

Several issues:

(1) Yes, if you insist on perfect spelling at all times, a child cannot write a reasonable sentence until Grade 3 or later. This makes learning to write a slow and painful job, and if there are punishments for spelling anything wrong, it's a great way to instill fear and develop nervous problems (saw a lot of this system in my youth.) It also promotes over-simple and formulaic writing.
So if you want to teach writing as well as reading, you have to allow a *learning phase* on spelling. It's not supposed to be permanent (that is a serious error, to let it go on too long) but you let the kid have some time to learn.

(2) No, recording things on the tape recorder is just not the same as writing them down. Try it yourself. The form of written English is quite different from the form of casual spoken English, more formal, more structured, far more complex in structure and reference, and with a much much larger vocabulary. The whole system of planning what you want to say and writing it in permanent form and adding and editing is a complex process involving many high-level thinking skills. It takes time to learn and is worth learning in and of itself.

Side note -- I read a report of a recent learning study that used logic problems to test if adults had learned higher-level thinking skills. The authors wanted to see if there was a difference between illiterates and literates. In order to test as many other variables as possible, not just the North American system where English is standard and illiterates generally have other problems as well, they tested in an area of Africa where many otherwise intelligent adults never got to go to school. They tested people who had English-style education, people who had traditional Arabic religious education, people who had learned at home to read their own native language, and people who could not read at all. The difference did NOT show up between literates and illiterates; rather the big difference was between those who had English-style education and all other groups. The English-educated students were able to take an objective view of the problem and solve it as an exercise in abstract logic; all the others looked only at the details and said things like "Well, I don't know the person you're talking about so I can't say." While this personal approach to life shows strong social skills, it also shows a lack of objective abstract thinking. My point in reporting this is that there is a lot of *meta-education* involved in our system. While the surface lesson may be on writing a paragraph, the underlying lesson includes logic and thinking skills and organization and vocabulary and many other things. With all good intentions people often request student accommodations removing certain tasks, not realizing that those tasks are connected to many other goals.
Back to the point:

(3) Assuming that our kids are not all robots who spell perfectly on Day 1, and we are going to allow a reasonable learning phase, the question comes up of how, when, and where to both teach and correct spelling.
(a) If you have a *good* phonics program (not the usual trash in most schools here), spelling is an integral part of it. Kids learn the basic consonant sounds in K and 1 and should be able to get the right single consonants in the right order at this stage; be patient about vowels. They learn the short vowels first during Grade 1 and will get those; be patient about long vowels and diphthongs until end Grade 1/ beginning Grade 2. Digraphs such as sh, th, ch, ng are also usually taught at this time (although I personally prefer to present them at least orally much earlier, because reading and writing both make much more sense with them). Long vowels and digraphs are usually presented in the first half of Grade 2 (again, I present them much earlier, but doing it at all would be a huge improvement.) By the middle of Grade 2 kids should be able to spell phonetically 90% of the words they want to use. There will still be some inaccuracies, a_e, ay, or ai being the same sound for example, and missing silent letters in words such as listen or lamb, but the general drift should be good. Now at THIS point the kid has enough skills to actually learn spelling more formally. A GOOD program will teach kids words by sound patterns -- one week a bunch of ay words, another week a bunch of ai words, and so on. There will also be special time taken to study "rule-breaking" words, and to take the time to *look* at how and where they break the rules. By the end of Grade 2 a student should be able to get the 500 or so basic words about 90% accurately, and the spelling vocabulary should steadily increase along with reading and writing skills.
(b) It is vital to teach left-to-right tracking skills absolutely. You analyze a word by reading from left to right, you form letters by moving the pen from left to right (done properly, this eliminates the b-d-p-q reversal problem; I find over 90% of my students starting later than K have this reversal and bad tracking habits together), and you spell in order of speech sounds from left to right. Students who show "alphabet soup" type spelling errors (most of the right letters but in nearly random order -- I have one of these this afternoon) almost always are not tracking properly in their reading, are often writing backwards (mine is) , and may not have been taught to segment speech sounds in order n(mine hasn't). Work on the basic principles and the spelling follows by what appears to the uninitiated to be magic.
(c) As you learn to read, spelling *should* -- rarely is in modern "efficient" programs that "save time" by leaving out all the essentials -- be part and parcel of the reading program. You present a new word; for example, the first three words in my excellent series are "Peter" and Jane" and "and". You write the word in large letters on an oversized file card. You say the letters as you print them pee-eee-tee-eee-arr. (if the child knows letter names; if not sounds first and names taught later.) You go over the word and sound out the letters/digraphs p-p-p-p- eeeeeee- t-t-t-t-t --errrr. You have the child trace the letters, making start dots and arrows to guide correct ordered formation; you hold his hand and help him follow if he has a coordination difficulty or no previous experience. You have him say first the name, and then the sound, of each letter/digraph as he traces. You say the word again and have him say it again. Then you have him identify the word in the book, and trace the letters with finger or pointer again while sounding out. Then you have him do workbook exercises that repeat these same skills several times more, and you supervise that he is actually saying the sounds orally and following directionality. If you start this way and teach every one of the first hundred words this way, you will see very very few students with spelling problems, or reading problems. The habit of analysis and tracking left to right and looking at each letter is natural and "easy" (ie well-learned) to him. As he learns to read the high-frequency irregular words, he also learns to spell them, one at a time without massive overload and confusion between similar ones (almost all my students, even high school, mess up of-for-from -- obviously some bright light designing the reading/writing programs tried to teach all the common f words together).
If, as is all too often the case, you get a late after-the-fact start with a kid who has been taught bad habits, you back up and do as much of this work as you can drag him through; it generally helps a lot.
(d) Correction should be appropriate to where the child is. When my daughter was four in kindergarten, she wrote "shrt" and "tedy beres". Note that you can read these pefectly easily; all the sounds are there in the right order. Correct? No way! At *that* stage, I praised her to the skies. Once the child can write a sentence fairly fluently, then you can mention the standard forms as in "I see you wrote "berd" with an er. That is quite sensible, but that one is actually an ir "er" sound". This is guidance, not punitive (One big problem with spelling is that the tradition is tied up with lots and lots of punishment). By end Grade 1 or so you can encourage kids to rewrite using standard forms. In Grade 2 or so you can start to give *phonetic pattern* spelling lists to study (The kids need enough reading vocabulary and enough handwriting skill to make this work, so efforts before mid Grade 1 are doomed to frustration and failure). You can start to correct work and expect common and short vowel regular words to be spelled correctly or rewritten, but marking down for spelling is still inappropriate. By Grade 3 it may be appropriate to mark off a *small* amount for spelling, to add encouragement to spell correctly, but not enough to ruin a kid's every grade, and only on the most common thousand or so words that can reasonably be expected to be known. (If you mark on every mis-spelling of advanced vocabulary, you discourage use of anything but the simplest words, counter-productive.)
(d) The usual weekly spelling lists are a bizarre religious ritual that has very very little to do with teaching and learning. On the one hand we have the parents complaining that their kid can never remember these bizarre and difficult words apparently chosen at random. On the other hand we have the parents who report that their kid can remember the word long enough to spell it on the test, but then mispells that same word in any other writing. Spelling has become totally divorced from reading and writing and has become a world unto itself. Some schools use spelling books that present words based around some concept -- which would make a tiny bit of sense if the kids actually read the stories in the books that introduce the concept, but usually they don't, just memorize the lists. Many schools have gone to the "creative" method of having the teacher choose words out of the class reading, something school boards like because it costs absolutely nothing, and a guarantee that the lists are totally random and not based on any needs except the teacher's guesses, also usually the most difficult words in the book and therefore above grade level. A few schools do have phonetically based spelling books, but as I have seen these used the teachers often ignore the phonics lesson and again just give a list to memorize. And in amny cases the school or teachers change systems every few years so the kids never have the groundwork necessary to make a sequential system work. Basically, ignore spelling lists. Review them the night before, sound them out, do your best, and if you get low spelling marks nobody fails for that any more so forget it.

There was an excellent article with formal studies of all this in the IDA yearbook for 2001 -- try to find it.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 4:37:43 PM

Hi Victoria,
Tell me what you think of this program as it was used with my son in 94, kindergarten.

Write to Read. Kids were given a workbook and put on a computer with headphones. They listened and copied with the computer, the words were not spelled correctly but phonetically. No teacher interaction with this method. They did books 1-5. At the end of the year (despite visits for report card teacher parent conferences, where I was told everythings ok, C is a joy to have in class) I received a list of write to read words C was supposed to have learned and hadn't, this was a week before the end of school. It was basically all the words from the year.

First grade, he redid the kindergarten write to read books, he was also supposed to learn 10 spelling words and 10 reading words every week. All 30 words were different and he was still unable to identify the sounds of all the alphabet letters.

They were assigned letter grades for all this. Pretty sad when a first grader comes home with a test where he had made the big F into an A.
It didn't take long for him to figure out that F wasn't just the first letter in his last name.

I would have to say, the school certainly didn't follow any of the guidelines you detailed above. I don't know if the program is still in use. I hope not.

Amy

I once thought he fit the dyslexia label, but now I think it was dysteachia during his first two yrs of school. He just had to catch up after two wasted years. So... while he was catching up on language arts, he missed out on math and is paying for that too. It really makes a mom want to kick somebody!

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 14, 2003 5:38:34 PM

I absolutely agree that there is a degree of logic that is abslolutely neccessary in our language.

The thing is I don't think this type of thinking is taught well by many. It seems to be either you have it or you don't. Those that don't are labeled LD. Far to many in my book.

Why not just go after this underlying skill directly. Connect those neurons that will allow many of the academic skills to come.

That is why I love audiblox.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 17, 2003 10:15:25 PM

Yes, sounds like a real disaster to me.

These "write to read" books -- were they organized on some basis, maybe including a little phonics, or high frequency words? Or were they just stuff somebody thought was cute?

How about the other kids in the class? I would bet that 20 to 40% of them are also having troubles; some hide it a bit better but by now the cracks should be showing.

For years I have been standing up and arguing against the drive to computerize all instruction. My motto is "Remember teaching machines?" If you do, you remember what a failure they were; if you don't, well, they died out for a good reason. Teaching and learning are a human activity involving interaction and communication.

Late for this kid, but a good point to make for yourself each new year and for other parents out there: Don't take things on faith. School districts lie. They lie because it's easy and most people don't question them and they can get away with it, and few supposed educators are well-educated themselves especially in logic. Be the nasty picky skeptical difficult parent from hell -- it's worth it.
(One proviso -- when you do get a teacher who is different from the rest and does different things, don't jump on her --she may be the one with new ideas that are really needed -- as long as she is trying in positive directions, give her support to try to make some changes.)

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