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.