The Simply Classical Spelling series consists of only Book One and Book Two thus far. This series offers a gentler, multi-faceted approach to spelling designed for students with learning difficulties, but it should also work for students who will benefit from its multi-sensory approach. The weekly lists of words─called key words in these courses─are almost all based upon common phonetic elements. An additional list of “Words to Know” that do not follow phonetic patterns are added to each week’s lesson.
Both books are self-contained; there are no separate teacher manuals. Their multi-sensory lessons are directed by the teacher and rely on reading, tracing, writing, oral practice, visual analysis, dictation, sentence creation, and flashcard practice. You will need to create flashcards for the Words to Know, and you can make your own letter cards or purchase letter tiles. There are optional learning strategies such as spelling words using alphabet beads, magnetic letters, or letter tiles.
Book One and Book Two share common methodologies, with each lesson to be taught over four or five days per week. However, Book Two is greatly expanded with about twice as much content as Book One. I will describe them separately because the differences are significant.
Book One teaches five key words each week plus two or three Words to Know. It begins with short-vowel words such as cat and big, moves on to long-vowel words such as dime and robe, and teaches Words to Know such as where, people, and would.
On Mondays, the work is oral and visual. Students read the word list aloud with the teacher then say and spell each word. (This step is repeated on Tuesday and Wednesday.) Students then read one or more sentences that use some of that week’s spelling words in the context of sentences. Next, the teacher uses questions provided within each lesson to lead students through a study of each word, discussing spelling patterns, meanings, and other aspects of the words that are helpful. Although it’s not explained in the instructions, you need to make flashcards for the Words to Know to help students practice reading and spelling them. (This is only mentioned in the scope and sequence at the back of the book.)
Tuesdays combine written work with more of the oral and visual activities. Students again read the list with the teacher, then read and spell the individual words. The teacher helps students identify patterns, sounds, and word families. The students trace each word with a yellow colored pencil or a yellow fine-line marker.
On Wednesdays, students practice reading and spelling their words. Then students are to read a word, close their eyes, and try to picture the spelling of the word. Next, they practice spelling the words with letter cards or tiles. Finally, they write the word in the air or on paper. (The book has two blank lines to the right of each word on which students can write if you want them to write on paper.)
On Thursdays, students are given an oral quiz. Words that are misspelled should be reviewed the next week.
Friday work is optional. Students can review misspelled words from Thursday. You might repeat the oral quiz for words that were missed. You might have students write the words or practice spelling with letter tiles or letter cards. (There are extra lines on the second page of each lesson for students to practice writing the words.) The amount of writing throughout the week is very low compared to other spelling programs.
Weeks 15, 32, and 33 are set aside for review. Week 34 has only an oral test for 50 words. You might break those 50 words up to present ten or more words per day rather than all 50 on one day.
Book Two has four pages per lesson and entails much more writing than does Book One. There are eight key words and five Words to Know per lesson. Students are quizzed separately on these two groups of words. Typical key words taught in this book are wish, swim, cube, and plume, and examples of the Words to Know are your, does, and enough.
Before you begin the lessons, there’s a dictated pre-test that consists of four sentences─not just individual spelling words. The pre-test is meant to be used for comparison with a post-test at the end of the course, but it might be frustratingly difficult for some students.
Book Two provides details for activities that help students learn the Words to Know since those words are more difficult than the words that follow phonetic patterns. The book tells you to create flashcards for these words and review them through recitation before each lesson (letting the student see the words). It suggests testing students on these words every few weeks, keeping track of which words have been mastered by separating the flashcards into two piles. It also suggests making a second set of these flashcards to be used with “Go Fish” and “Memory” games.
On Mondays, you will introduce and discuss phonetic elements in the key words. Students will say and spell the key words aloud. Students will practice saying and spelling the Words to Know separately from the key words. You can use the sentences that include some of the spelling words either on Monday or Wednesday. On whichever day you do this, students will underline spellings words that are used in these sentences, then orally create sentences that use the remaining spelling words. Finally, students will write each key word and each Word to Know one time on the first of two lines provided in the book.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students will repeat the practice of saying and spelling their key words aloud as they did on Monday. Then Tuesday’s work continues with students tracing their spelling words with a yellow marker or highlighter. They will also work on their Words to Know with flashcard quizzing and games.
Wednesday’s work continues with students practicing writing the key words in the air, on sandpaper, in a tray of rice, or in another sensory manner. Next, students either begin the study of the sentences that use the spelling words or review them if they were taught on Monday. Finally, students write their words on the second line in their books.
Thursday is for either an oral or written quiz on the key words. After students write the words they misspelled on the extra lines provided, you will review any missed words along with words missed from previous lessons. Students are quizzed on Words to Know from your pile of flashcards. (Note that quizzes need not be written.)
Friday presents a three-step dictation lesson. You will find the weekly dictation material in the appendix, and lines are provided in the book for students to write what you dictate. First, they will write five dictated phonetic sounds such as /d/ and /pl/. Next, they will write five words that include those phonetic sounds, and lastly, they will take by dictation a complete sentence that includes only words they have been taught.
Five full weeks during the course plus the last two weeks of the course are used for assessment, review, and reteaching. Words to be used for these assessment weeks are in the appendix, and you can add your own.
Simply Classical Spelling uses a more multi-sensory approach to spelling than do most stand-alone spelling workbooks, so it requires more preparation and teaching time from the parent or teacher. However, the methodology might prove effective for many students who struggle with spelling.