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How we teach Spelling at Winter Gardens Academy
In Reception children begin the RWI phonics programme. During their time in reception they develop their knowledge of their sounds, allowing them to write words phonetically. For example: shops, jumping and dinosaur – the children will segment to spell this word by writing the sounds they can hear ‘shops, jumping and dinowsor’. We praise all children’s attempts to spell phonetically and do not show them the correct spelling as this is expected at this age. We begin teaching the children red words (tricky words) in Reception. These are the words that we cannot sound out. If a child is trying to spell a red word, we would encourage them to use their sounds but then explain to them that it is a red word so it is tricky and show or model the correct spelling.
Moving into Year 1
Children continue to develop their spelling knowledge and are taught to spell words through the RWI phonics programme. Children learn a sound a day, developing their blending and confidence to blend to read words and develop fluency. On a Friday the children have a lesson that is centred around the teacher modelling how to segment a word to then write. Children are then encouraged to spell these words in their writing. Below is a photograph of the ‘Complex Speed Sound Chart’. These are displayed in all classrooms where RWI phonics is taught. These are used by the teacher to model alternative sound pronunciation and the children.
You can find a copy of this on our website.
During all writing opportunities the children are provided with RWI visual sound maps, encouraging them to identify the sound prior to writing.
Moving into Year 2 and Key Stage Two
Once the children have developed a good level of confidence in their reading and have confidence to spell words using alternative spelling patterns they will move on to the RWI spelling programme.
The photograph shows the RWI books used to teach spelling from Year 2 to Year 6. Please note that these books are not always taught in relation to the year group a child is in. All children complete an assessment. Teachers use the assessments and group children according to their ability. Furthermore, some units – spelling patterns taught – are not always in line with our year group expectations so as teachers we use our professional knowledge as to when to teach a s specific unit.
Spelling sessions are a carousel of different activities within the classroom but still differentiated groupings. The children in each class are organised into two or three ability groups. During a week, the teacher, teaches each group the spelling pattern they are learning for the week (20 minute session). This is taught using the RWI Programme where the sound is taught using an interactive video. Children then complete an activity called ‘dots and dashes’ to identify how many sounds in each words.
Dots and dashes is modelled to children from EYFS when learning phonics and the strategy is continued when learning spelling patterns through to Year 6.
Dot – a dot is used for an individual sound
Dash – special friend e.g. er
Smile – split digraph e.g. a-e
The teacher then builds on this knowledge about how to add prefixes or suffixes to a root word. This is called word changers.
During the other two spelling sessions in the week, the children work independently to practise their spellings. This can include: a wide range of games to learn spellings for the week e.g. four in a row (see link on website for different games children can play to practise their spellings), dictionary work (antonyms – opposite e.g. cold/hot and synonyms – alternative word but has the same meaning e.g. pretty/beautiful), alphabetical order)
You can find examples of other games the children play to learn their spelling. You will find these on the website
On a Friday, children will bring home their spellings to learn (recorded in their reading diaries) and be tested on them the following Friday. They will record their spelling result on their list of words that they stick into their diaries and highlight any words they got incorrect so they can continue to learn these at home and at school. Some children may have a list of twelve words (5 spelling pattern words, 5 tricky words (words you cannot sound out) and a pair of homophones (words that sound the same, spelt differently and have a different meaning e.g. which/witch, to/too/two). Some children may have a list of eight words to learn (5 spelling patterns, two tricky words and one pair of homophones). If children get 12/12 or 8/8 they receive five dojos, 10/12 or 6/8 two dojos.