Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

Click HERE for this special publication (first page below) that shares another story from Rebecca Loveless, a master SWI educator and tutor at the Nueva School. In this story we follow the journey of "Alexa" as she is given the gift of expert guidance through the conventions by which English spelling structure works to represent the meaning of words in the context of stories and words that interest her. 

After you read this joyous story, you may want to read THIS earlier story by Rebecca another student moving non-reader to reader on his own path driven by his own interests. There is not one path to literacy learning -- but there is only one orthography system that should guide our instruction. 

Stay tuned. This article is just one of the stories being prepared for a WW Newsletters with stories of learning through SWI from Pre-K to high school at Nueva. 


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Comments (3)

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Lisa, I love how your perceptions (or misperceptions) about phonology led to you needing to find the meaning of the word. What a great example of how essential meaning is to any investigation, especially when we've all learned to look at phonology first. Once you had it, the structure was totally clear! Thanks for your comments, and you too, Laure!

Rebecca L
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I just love that within a description of playing with words with a 1st grade student, I, as an adult am enlightened with new vocabulary and connections! I have read your piece several times because each time I learn more and am intrigued by so many parts that I examine each in its own light with each reading.

During my quick little lunch, curiosity got the better of me so I looked up <indefatigable>. I was curious about the spelling --why wasn't there an <e> between <g> and <a>? Last week there was a post about words that could drop the non-syllabic <e> but keep it in order to preserve the soft g sound (forgive my reference to teacher-talk--I'm in a hurry as students will be entering and my recall is only allowing this much today!). I was unsure of this word's meaning or pronunciation and hypothesized that the <ig> part of this word would use the soft g and should therefore contain the <e> with this spelling: <...ige...>. After investigating this word a bit, I see it is from the Latin word <fatigare> with a denotation of "wear out"; this leads me to hypothsize its relationship to <fatigue>; this also tells me why there is no <e>!

I am out of time to continue this investigation (I want to see if these 2 are truly related and if so, were the <ue> comes in). Thank you for writing this story with trails woven in.

Lisa Barnett

Lisa Barnett
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Thank you Rebecca for sharing this. Slowly but surely, I am finding this statement true--"There is a period of time where the effectiveness of this instruction is not so obvious, and it may seem that one has to take it on faith that something important is happening. After a teacher experiences the leap that students make multiple times, the reassurance that language learning is happening under the surface seems irrefutable."

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