I believe that a successful spelling program is a differentiated spelling program with CHOICES for student practice. I have used the same lists and assessment methods successfully for the past several years with my seventh grade classes. Students love the choices, and I love the ease in assessing their independent practice. I upload all lists at the beginning of the year to a free resource called "Spelling City" where students are able to access lists at their own pace and can complete free, fun and educational games and pretests for additional practice. My weekly 20-26 word lists (including challenge words) come from Pearson's "Everyday Spelling" series and are a great combination of the types of words 7th graders need to know. You can use the choice board activities with any of your own lists as well. Most activities can be completed on plain notebook paper.
The choice boards encourage students to choose activities that integrate spelling practice with other skill practice that we either have learned or are currently learning. Students choose 3 different activities to complete prior to a final assessment at the end of the week, allowing them to practice and apply the spelling words at least 3 times without having to drill and practice the words in the typical way. There are usually technology related assignments as well as those that incorporate basic repetition. Some activities are higher level while some are lower level. You can allow students to pick any three or to choose three in a row-just like Tic Tac Toe.
Many of our Language Arts/Literature classes are blocked, and we teach writing, spelling, literacy, and grammar. Choice boards change each month and are organized thematically according to the season and to the lessons we are currently learning. For example, at the beginning of the year while we are reviewing parts of speech, we could also be reviewing literary terminology and the dialogue punctuation rules, so choices may include writing activities that integrate use of spelling words with dialogue in short stories or other types of short writing assignments.
I hope that you find this packet of spelling resources to be a way to streamline spelling instruction in your classroom. I hope your students find it to be a worthwhile way to practice their spelling words in their own way!
I make the choice boards weekly, mandatory homework for the first grading period to ensure all students "get in the habit" of practicing weekly. Then for the subsequent grading periods, I allow students to "choose" whether or not to complete the 3 choice board activities if they maintain a 90% or higher on weekly assessments. For each week they score below 90%, they must complete the next week's choice board assignment. Once they score at the 90% level, they can go back to choosing (until they score below 90% again).
Students who wish to do the choice board activities voluntarily may still do so and earn the homework points (while getting the extra practice). Surprisingly, I have many students who choose to complete weekly choice boards as a way to boost homework grades because completion of the assignment is an easy 100% score for that week's homework.
Students who maintain a 90% are not penalized for NOT choosing to do choice boards, but they do not earn the homework points. We use an electronic grade book which allows me to enter in a grade or mark excused in place of a grade for students who are not required to complete a specific assignment. My students may all have different point values at the end of the quarter, but for differentiated instruction, this is not a problem. I simply assess each student on his or her completed assignments at the end of the quarter.
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