Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

I find watching this film of grade 1 word scientitst exploring their understanding of spelling a deeply moving, emotional experience.



I was as a teacher for 10 years. In 2000, I was near the end of my 9th year in the classroom.  I had spent a lifetime as a terrible speller who misunderstood -- and therefore mistaught -- English spelling as a frustratingly irregular system. I was finally introduced to the elegant beauty and structure of English orthography in a 45 minute presntation on Real Spelling at a teacher conference. With that introduction, my Grade 4 students and I got to work using scientific inquiry to test the very strange hypothesis that English spelling -- despite everything we had ever been taught -- just might make sense. Its become my life's work to offer that gift of understanding to others ever since. 

When Luke shared this film with me I had the strange reaction of being amazed at the linguistic discussion I was seeing in a Grade 1 class, while simultaneously recognizing that it was an absoltuely straightforward conversation. At one point I would never have thought this kind of investigation would be possible in my Grade 4 class. 

With this window into Luke's classroom, the argument that this linguistic content is too advanced for teachers and students.  As children grow up in schools, there is no reason they should ever have the thought that English spelling is an irregular and frustrating system that has lots of exceptions to memorize. The only thing holding back the understanding of teachers. Many thanks to all the hard work of the community of scholars (educators and students) at the Nueva School over the last number of years who have created the culture of learning such that Luke can share this evidence of what is possible from the beginning of literacy instruction. 

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet