How to Teach Any Child To Spell and its companion, Tricks of the Trade: A Student's Individualized Spelling Notebook, are designed for children who struggle with spelling. Some children work through spelling workbooks and memorize word lists yet still frequently misspell words in their written work. Often, the problem is they can't see that words look "funny," a natural ability for the good speller.
Gayle Graham offers a solution by combining Ruth Beechick's suggestion to create individualized spelling lists of words each student misses with focused instruction on the pertinent spelling rules. She stresses the need to keep the rules simple, pointing out that most children struggle with only a few key rules.
How To Teach Any Child To Spell is a small teacher's manual that outlines the approach, presents the phonics rules for daily structured phonics review, and lists the six key spelling rules.
Put Gayle's ideas into practice with Tricks of the Trade, purchasing one book for each student with whom you will be working. Tricks of the Trade includes "Clue Sheets" showing phonetic sounds and essential rules for spelling. This is followed by the bulk of the book, the child's personal spelling "dictionary." In this dictionary, children write the words they miss under sound or "rule" headings rather than in alphabetical order. They then concentrate on studying only the rules that apply to those words.
Gayle outlines four-step, daily spelling lessons that include general phonics review, review of the misspelled words following Gayle's strategy, oral reading incorporating exercises to help the child develop visual perception, and writing time. This system works best for children who have already learned to read and write, but whose spelling skills lag behind. It should even work for teens who might have decided that spelling skills are not in their repertoire, but who really do want to be able to spell words correctly.