Guided Spelling: spelling between the desks.


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Guided spelling or ‘Spelling between the desks’, is a new concept of mine!

Informed in part by mine and others’ approaches to maths. We are essentially trying to get inside the mind of the student to help to guide and explore their own thinking, in order to model HOW to think analytically about spelling. Often when I ask why a child has made a certain choice, they will say ‘it SOUNDED like that’ or worse ‘I DON’T KNOW!’.

Whilst the children are working, you can circulate around the desks to support key students.

Questions the teacher should ask:

  • What is your next sentence?
  • Are there any spellings you aren’t sure of? (check High Frequency Words too).
  • What does the word mean?
  • How many syllables does it have, which are open, which closed?
  • What is the first sound? (encourage exaggerated artciulation or use a mirror if this is something they struggle with)
  • Go through the sounds until there is a sound which is ambiguous, usually a vowel.
  • Ask: what are the spelling choices? e.g. in exaggerate the beginning sounds like ‘eggs’, the /j/ is g followed by ‘e’ which makes it ‘soft’, ate could be eight, ayt, but is a split digraph.
  • Use analogy, affixes, and spelling conventions or rules to guide choices.


The result:

Children will start to take an analytical, metacognitive approach to spelling – will become empowered and better equipped to self-check work.

Why does this work:

Spelling becomes an integrated part of teaching, students learn to become ambitious in tackling spelling and curious about how words work, leading to greater resilience around spelling.

What you will need:

An awareness of how words work, how to use affixes and identify roots, a knowledge of spelling rules and conventions. Some knowledge of  articulation, phonics and the history of our language.

If your school would like training in these areas contact me!


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