Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Hello all,

After years of making minor revisions to how I present the "four questions" to ask when trying to understand a spelling, I have felt the need for a more substantial revision that I am keen to share in the hopes of getting feedback to see if there are further revisions to consider at the moment. 

First here is the one I've posted over and over in Real Spellers and my workshops etc...

Screen Shot 2015 09 07 at 1.36.15 PM

Below is a screne shot of the revised chart that I will start using until I find a better version. Download a pdf with the hot links HERE. I'm curious to see if people agree that this is an improvement and why!

Screen Shot 2015 09 07 at 1.41.33 PM

Many thanks to Gail Venable who has had a major influence on my thinking in many ways. In this case, over years, Gail has helped me see that my thinking was often too constrained by going in order from investigating morphological questions before consulting etymological information. As I look at this new chart, I see that it fails to highlight that not only is there not an order between questions #2 and #3 -- but that often the most productive path is a flipping back and forth between morphological and etymological information. Perhaps someone out there has an idea for communicating that point pithily!


Comments (5)

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Good point mmch! It is interesting.

This also ties into the "structure and meaning test" frame that I use. (See HERE.)


Peter Bowers
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Great comments and reply to Gail and Sue. I agree with all and would love to see the term "structure" added to #2 "How is it built." The term structure might help students see the importance of arranging the morphemes into written elements. Thanks for the clarity and refinement.

mary mcbride
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Well Gail, you won't be surprised to learn that it was that title change that was eating at me for a long time that I knew I needed to change. I certainly don't need to be stuck on remembering how to spell a word to know that I have interesting QUESTions about it to investigate. I like Sue's suggestion also, and I've received some other ideas via email. I'm going to let this sit for a little while longer to gather more ideas before sharing my next revision. Thanks you you and Sue for further guidance. Beside the previous poor title, your influence on helping me recognize my underplaying of etymology was something that made me know I could no longer accept the previous framing. Just these two weeks (1.5) diving ingot etymology earlier in my investigations has had a great impact on my learning. Nothing like actually following one's own advice!

Peter Bowers
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Pete, I really like the change from "Stuck on a spelling?" to "Found an interesting word" And I agree with Sue about the need to mention looking at the etymology of the word itself. There is much richness in an etymological entry beyond the search for relatives. Think of <albatross> for example.

Gail Venable
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I love these changes. Putting etymology before morphology makes sense to me. And it’s really helpful that you’ve put the terms “base” and “root” into the questions.

Two comments:

It may be implied, but before thinking about related words, I always think about the word itself that I am investigating. It seems like a lot to list under question 3, but it could include:
etymology of the word, then
etymological relations and
morphological relations

The term “sound” is so easy to misunderstand. I wonder if 4 would have the same sense if it were: “How does the pronunciation correspond to the spelling?”

This is such a powerful tool. Thanks for your work in refining it!

Comment was last edited about 6 years ago by Sue Hegland Sue Hegland
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