Success in Spelling reflects my belief that spelling should be taught after children have become fluent readers. Thus, this program recommends Level 1 for students "...in second grade and above, and only when the child is reading fluently." Phonics rules are reviewed, and spelling rules are taught throughout the program. Sight words and most-commonly-used words are also taught but separate from lessons emphasizing rules. Daily lesson plans explain how to introduce the spelling words (including the applicable rule), provide an activity (games, drawing, written work, etc.—something different every lesson), pretest, review, and final test.
Level 1 has daily lesson plans for 19 weeks, plus another 17 lists of sight/common words that can be used for weekly lessons. The book itself is the teacher's manual, and there is no student workbook. Instead, you reproduce the "Spelling Pretest" pages. These pages are divided into three columns. The spelling words are in the left-hand column. Students study the words, then the page is folded so only the center column is visible for the pretest on day 3. Misspelled words are rewritten in the third column. The final test encompasses only the words missed on the pretest. The vocabulary is wider ranging than that found in typical second-grade books since it includes words like smite, whine, clasp, and bane.
Some third graders will begin with Level 1, while others will be ready to move on to Level 2. There are 46 lessons beginning with long vowels and working through blends and digraphs. Accented syllables and simple diacritical markings are also taught. The level of difficulty is slightly higher than most spelling programs for third-grade level with the exceptions of Abeka's, Rod and Staff's, and Christian Liberty's.
Level 3 has 57 lessons that build directly upon lessons taught in earlier levels. It continues with "...digraphs, vowels under the accent, trisyllables, diacritical marking and special spelling rules." Daily lesson plans are sometimes grouped when lesson plans are almost identical; for example, Lessons 1-3 follow the same lesson plans but use a different list of words each week. The word lists are significantly more challenging than other mid-upper elementary programs in terms of both spelling difficulty and vocabulary. Examples of some of the more challenging words: plenitude, rectitude, derogate, immolate, plausible, chancery, and debauch.
Level 4 has 66 lessons detailing homophones, accented syllables, special spelling rules, and short and long vowel spelling possibilities. Emphasis is placed on diacritical marking and syllabication."
Level 5 has 75 lessons with from 3 to 12 words per lesson. There are daily lesson plans (five per week) for each lesson/word list, although most of us will move more rapidly through some of the lists. If we actually spent a full week on each list, it would take 820 days! So adapt the lessons, using suggestions as is appropriate for each student. Level 5 covers homophones, suffix and prefix meanings and spelling rules, exceptions to spelling rules, accented syllables, six- to seven-syllable words, and hard-to-spell words. The word choices grow increasingly unusual. (They began to do so in earlier levels.) Examples of unusual words: flagitious, absolutory, circumjacent, disembarrass, cognoscible, and flageolet. Although I find no directions for vocabulary study, students are required to write the words in sentences in their final tests. Because many words are likely to be unfamiliar, you will probably need to develop some method for vocabulary study on your own. Even though Level 5 is recommended for sixth graders, I suspect that many older students will struggle through some of these lessons.