Phonics research reports that reading and writing are reciprocal processes (Pinnell, 1994). Readers decode (put together sounds to form words in text) and writers encode (“spell…a word [by mapping] a spelling onto each sound heard in the word.”) (Blevins 2001). Furthermore, “knowledge of common syllable patterns and structural analysis improves the ability to read, spell, and learn the meanings of multisyllabic words (Blevins, 2001).” To accomplish this, “the most effective type of instruction…is explicit (direct) instruction” that controls the amount of information being taught to the learner (Adams, 1990; Chall, 1996; Evans and Carr, 1985).
Studies clearly indicate that all children can benefit from studying words. This includes children that are good spellers and have a good visual memory (Moats, 1995). As children reach the upper grades, “spelling by analogy becomes increasingly important …” (Moats, 1995) “In short, knowledge about patterns within single syllables, and syllable patterns within words, will be of considerable value to students in both their reading and their spelling.” (Bear, 1996).
Further research suggests that a word study curriculum should accomplish how to look at words, high-frequency words, letter-sound relationships, patterns, and the ability to use multiple strategies (Pinnell, 1994). Spelling should emphasize the most reliable and most useful patterns, not patterns that occur infrequently. Patterns should never be taught as absolutes, but rather as generalizations that can have exceptions (Blevins, 2001).
Spelling workshop is a highly effective time of the day when students are studying, writing, and thinking about these spelling patterns. Spelling Workshop can make a difference in the way teachers and students think about word work.
"Steve's spelling program not only has WHAT to teach, but focuses on HOW to teach. The explicit and strategic spelling instruction instills spelling patterns and practice in students that exceeds the output and thinking of other spelling programs. Students are able to deeply understand spelling patterns and build a strong, lifelong foundation."
"Steve's spelling program has had a huge impact on my students' ability to decode and encode unknown words. His program teaches them lifelong strategies to become stronger readers. My students have not only become stronger readers as a result of Steve's program, their writing and vocabulary use has dramatically improved, as well. "
4th grade teacher
"Steve's spelling program has strengthened my students' knowledge of both phonics and spelling. It has given them an understanding of onset and rime as well as the ability to use them effectively in reading and writing. Their vocabulary increased as new words were introduced with each word family. Practice with many spelling patterns has given my students the confidence to spell new words on their own."