Super Spelling Book One

Mary Pecci, author of At Last! A Reading Method for EVERY Child!, has created a companion spelling program, based on the same simplified phonics principle. "Teach only the reliable facts." Pecci illustrates her approach with a stairstep hierarchy of language skills beginning with listening, then moving up through speaking, reading, and spelling, ending with written language. Thus, she stresses the need for children to learn to read before learning to spell, although she is not demanding total reading mastery before spelling begins. (Spelling begins one month after reading instruction.) A good example of how this works is that rather than having first graders do any creative or independent writing, Pecci has them copy or follow closely along with teacher instructions, receiving step-by-step guidelines as they learn how to produce correct sentences. This approach contrasts with whole language theory that would have children writing anything for the sake of learning to express themselves without regard to conventions.

Another unique feature of this spelling book is a focus on high-frequency words (e.g., dog, the, run, can, big) rather than lists consisting of rhyming words (e.g., cat, sat, hat, rat) or topical words (e.g., colors: red, yellow, blue). This enables children to write intelligible sentences using familiar words.

She uses fewer rules, treating words that don't follow the rules as "study words." Pecci uses her own very simple system of marking digraphs and "study" words. Rather than simply memorizing the spelling of words that don't follow rules, students learn to analyze them in ways that will help them remember their correct spelling.

Daily lessons help students to master weekly spelling lists, beginning with five words each week, but increasing to ten per week by the end of the year. Lessons are directed by the teacher with daily lesson plans provided in the book. There is no student workbook. Students begin writing isolated words in their daily practice, but increase to complete dictated sentences. Sentences include only words that students have already mastered. Periodic reviews are built into the course.

As they learn to write sentences, students learn the four types of sentences and basic punctuation. Lessons include weekly additional practice activity such as filling in the missing spelling word, unscrambling, and adding punctuation to sentences, beginning after lesson 3.

Little to no lesson preparation time is required, but parents must work with children each day. Super Spelling should be good for the child (and, perhaps, the parent) who is easily overwhelmed by numerous rules. While it can be used alongside most other phonics programs, it will work best with those using Pecci's reading program.

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Instant Key

  • Need For Parent or Teacher Instruction: high
  • Learning Environment: group or one-on-one
  • Grade Level: grade 1
  • Religious Perspective: secular

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