Friday, July 13, 2012

Sequential Spelling With an ipad

Last year we used Spellwell which I was really happy with. Morgan was our main user & he shower great progress within the lessons, tests, & pre-tests. However, I noticed one small flaw, none of that was carrying over to his work! It drove me batty.

We had a minor break down shortly after our school year started which ended with tears, mostly mine. Frustration, mostly his. Then a laugh. Mostly, I'm sure, my mother who remembers the great pains she went through attempting to teach me to spell as well. Yeah, Mom, I remember..

Anyway, the point is that when your child feels the frustration it's time to change things up to help him. So I did. After a day of lamenting to my husband about our spelling woes, I tripped {not by accident I'm pretty sure God was just slapping me with this one} over Sequential Spelling. A few questions answered later & I'd ordered it.

I won't give a deep review about the programme right now, but in short regardless or your child's age & level you start with book 1.  This was a "good to know" so that my child didn't feel like a baby. However, depending on your child's ability depends on how quickly you race through a book. We did the first half dozen lessons or so in one day, & then intentionally slowed down to 1 lesson a day 4 times a week. This is a subject we will most likely do a couple of times a week even during a summer break period.

Each day I call out 25 words for him to spell, & after each word I write it on the white board using various marker colors to help point out similarities in the words. Here's where things got a little tricky. For one thing, we go through white board markers like most people go through water. It's not a joke! I must by a new set 2-3x a YEAR! Who goes through them THAT quickly? I don't get the cheapies either, the only ones I ever buy are the Crayloa low oder ones because my head can not handle the smell of other brands. In fairness, we use our whiteboard markers daily. On white board, windows, mirrors, clear table clothes, & just about anything else that we can view it on. Nothing says fun like working your math problems on the sliding glass door.. except for maybe the look on the gardeners face when he thinks your kids are coloring inappropriately on the windows...

Not only do we go through a lot of markers Jayden finished his first SpellWell book of the year & wanted to join in on Sequential Spelling. I was reluctant preferring to keep my kids on separate curriculum where one excels over another. Why? It helps keep them sane, & me. While using the same is easy enough, it can also cause a bit of friction.

Example: First day Jayden did SS with us Morgan scored a measly 62% on his spelling for the day. Next day I did them separately but Jayden was at the table keeping a close eye on stuff. Morgan scored an 84%. The next day I sent Jayden off to read on the trampoline while Morgan had his test & Morgan scored a 92%. He generally holds pretty steady in the 90% are for spelling since switching & yes it does carry over to his everyday work which is what makes us all the happiest. However, just knowing his brother might do better then him really threw him for a loop. Please don't waste time lecturing me on how he'll need to get use to the fact that people are better then him at all sorts of things, he knows this. We've told him this a hundred times. But when you hit something that you really struggle with on a daily basis, sometimes you need that special alone time to conquer the battle before you face the fact that there are going to be people out there who are better at it then you.

I told dh one night that it would be a lot easier if I could produce a slide show for each lesson. My theory was that then each child could sit & do their work while I called out words, or better yet if I added my voice to the slide show they could do the work independently while I kept an eye on things. After all one of our big goals with Morgan over the next 18 months is to get him really independent on with his schooling as he races towards highschool.

Mr S says, "Oh they make a programme for that." Then he really blows me away by pointing out I have said programme on my computer. Duh! One afternoon a couple of weeks ago while the kids took advantage of a beautiful winter day, I sat down & conquered said programme. Which, for the record is known as KeyNote in Mac, you window users are on your own because the name of the Windows equiv. is totally slipping my mind right now. I made up a couple of spelling lessons for each child & then brought them in one at a time to do the lesson. They thought I was pretty cool, thank you very much! Yeah, I marked the calendar because I don't hear that I'm actually cool very often. More like, "MOM!! That's SOOOOO embarrassing!"

It was honestly incredibly simple to get going with. Once I had a system down for getting all 25 words in it went really quickly. I also make a started page which instructs the kids to number their page with however many words I'm giving them {12-25 depending on said lesson & said words in said lesson}, it instructs them to circle all incorrect words before correcting them, & to put a smile face next to each correct word. Sequential Spelling is a self correcting programme. The child writes the word I say, then I write the word out so they can see if they spelled it right. If not, they fix it. In order for me to keep track of what each child is getting right & wrong I have them circle the number of the word they got wrong. If I see the same word consistently spelled wrong we work on it. I also include Bonus Words at times, these are the words they might consistently spell wrong but aren't on their list for the day.

After I get the whole thing done & dusted I log into our account over at, then I can upload each lesson to be used on Keynote on the ipad. Easy peasy. Of course you will have to purchase keynote for the ipad {$9.99 I think it was}, but considering how often we use it, the price was minimal. Now, I can give one child the ipad & the other child the computer. I can call out a word for them each to spell {Morgan is now capable of having Jayden do spelling at the same time as himself, but Jayden is at the start of the book where as Morgan is a considerable way through it now}, they can spell it, then turn to the next slide & check their work.

A Few Notes:

If you're not sure how to use Keynote, Apple has a really quick & simple tutorial on their website which you can access from within your Keynote programme. I watched the very short video & was able to go to work from there. I did not make any of it fancy. I didn't want flashing, turning, or eye catching. I simply wanted the next word to appear just as if I'd written it on the white board.

Once you make one lesson up it's pretty easy to just cut & paste to create more, especially with Sequential Spelling because the words stay the same or have a simple suffix or prefix added in/on to them for many lessons in a row. It's also a lot easier to work backwards. Go to the last page of your slide show, type in all the words, adjust the colors as you want them to be for the lesson. Cut & paste what you've created into each page deleting one word as you go along. When you get to the first page you should have one word left. If you don't you've messed up somewhere & you just flip through the pages until you find it.

Also, to keep the slide show from being more then 27 pages long {Title page with instructions for the lessons, 25 words, 1 bonus word} make sure you select to have 3 columns. That way all your words, by the end of the lesson, can be on one page. This isn't a major thing, but I felt it was pretty important because Sequential Spelling builds off of itself as you can probably see from some of the pictures. Their theory is if you can teach your child to spell at you can teach them to spell cat, bat, sat, fat, late, fate, etc. That's why the color is different on various letter combos in the words. I go another step farther & sometimes make prefixes & suffixes another color as well. So a word like bat would look like this: bat but when we get to batting it would look like this: batting. Just depends on what the other word combos in the lesson are like.

So there you go! I will warn you though, making slide shows is a tad addictive. After I finished making the spelling lesson slide shows I thought about the hundred other things I could turn into a slide show, but then reality called me back..

1 comment:

Bright Eyed Girl said...

Wonderful. Ill be looking into this spelling program :)