Spelling can so easily be one of the most boring and disconnected lessons of the day. Too often students are filling out boring, disconnected worksheets and picking the easiest activities on their ‘contracts’ for that first half hour of the school day.
Some kids love them and eagerly finish their ‘core’ activities so they can move on to writing stories, decorating words, making games etc. But for too many by the end of the week they are still struggling with ‘look, cover, write, check’ and are at the receiving end of their teacher’s and parent’s concern and/or frustration.
As teachers we are always looking for ways to engage our students. There are loads and loads of programs and strategies to choose from and we are often guided, (or constrained), by whatever method has had large amounts of time and money invested in its implementation.
But what is best for students? What will they remember? What will last throughout their lifetime? How will they know the difference between lose and loose or which witch is which? It certainly won’t be by recalling ‘Group 3, List 2, Week 5, Term 2’.
In my observations I’ve seen story based learning used effectively for many topics. Think Maths! We are always creating stories for problem solving. We bring History to life by re-enacting days gone by with characters that our students can relate to. In Technology we imagine what life could be like in various scenarios and design inventions for brave new worlds.
But poor old spelling has never had a story based approach much more than, ‘the cat sat on the mat with a flat bat’. I exaggerate but the point is that there needs to be far more stories with a proper narrative to truly engage students. And if students are engaged then they are far more likely to be learning!