By: Elizabeth Kelsey, Kendall Hunt RPD Intern, with contributions from the writing team of Pathways2.0 Reading Language Arts gr. 1-8
All the way through elementary and middle school, I had weekly spelling tests. I still remember the pretests that came home on Monday afternoons on yellow paper, which my mom placed in a prominent place on the kitchen counter. Every day, she’d quiz my younger sister and me on our spelling words.
Today, these yellow papers are no longer coming home with many students. Across the country, spelling is being de-emphasized in the curriculum or, in some cases, dropped altogether. Although some of the reasons for its demise are valid ones, the truth is that spelling skills have real value for students. Here are three ways the Pathways 2.0 curriculum incorporates spelling for student success.
1. Pathways 2.0 spelling reinforces a growth mind-set
According to reading specialist Susan Jones, “teaching spelling systematically can dispel the myth that spelling is unpredictable and too confusing for all but those with a natural gift for it.” This is why the Pathways 2.0 spelling words are centered on spelling patterns; for example, in the Grade 5 Social Issues Daily Lesson Guide, Week 1’s spelling words help students understand the spelling of palindromes.
This allows the teacher to promote the idea that spelling is not unpredictable but follows logical patterns and rules. The theme or pattern is clearly expressed in that week’s spelling objective, so both teacher and students will have the pattern in mind all week as the words are practiced and studied. By giving students concrete tools to recognize spelling tricks, teachers can promote a growth mindset and the belief that it is possible to improve one’s spelling skills; spelling ability is not just an innate “gift.”
2. Pathways 2.0 spelling improves reading comprehension
Teaching spelling also improves reading comprehension and fluency by reinforcing the connection between letters and sounds. Jones quotes a 2008–2009 study from the American Educator, which states that “the more deeply and thoroughly a student knows a word, the more likely he or she is to recognize it, spell it, define it, and use it appropriately in speech and writing.”
With this idea in mind, the Pathways 2.0 Word Study lessons present Greek and Latin roots to students, offering them tools to connect the meaning of a word to its spelling. By understanding that the root struct is related to “building” or “assembly,” for example, students can grasp the spelling and meaning of words like construction and instruct. Pathways 2.0 helps students see the correlation between the form and function of words, strengthening their reading skills along the way.
3. Pathways 2.0 spelling is grade-level appropriate and integrated
One criticism of language arts programs that include spelling practice is that the words are not grade-level appropriate and may be merely cherry-picked from the texts used in the reading curriculum. But the Pathways 2.0 daily Word Study distinguishes between academic vocabulary words (which help students talk about their writing), Anchor Text vocabulary words (which help them understand the Anchor Texts they read), and spelling words (which reinforce specific spelling patterns and boost their confidence with oral and written language). Weekly spelling words are distinct from Anchor Text vocabulary and are grade-level appropriate, giving students a proper balance between challenge and academic support.
When you’re considering the best way to integrate spelling into your curriculum, consider the Pathways 2.0 language arts program for grades 1–8. The integrated spelling practice in Pathways 2.0 offers students rich benefits as they develop their language skills and increase their love of reading and writing!
When have you seen a connection between spelling and reading comprehension among your students?