There's more than one way to crack a nut. And there's more than one way to learn the spelling of a word. It depends on the word and it depends on the person (And it may depend on a load of other things too.) People often learn spellings using the Look Say Cover Write and Check method. Here I've made a template that, though I say it myself, seems much more useful than others I've seen because it offers different ways to learn.
It looks like this:
Before you download the LSCWC template though, let me explain how it works.
In the first column, the learner copies the word very carefully (spending a lot of time learning the wrong spelling would be rather a disaster!). They also say the word and spell it aloud letter by letter. This helps them to notice differences in pronunciation and spelling.
They count the number of letters and write this figure in the second column. This helps them to see they've written it correctly (not left any letters out or doubled one that should be single, for example) and also helps when they are learning the word.
Next they look at the word and see if there is anything unusual about the spelling or anything they think might be difficult to remember. They can either write it in the third column or overwrite the 'hard spot' in the word in the first column with a different colour pen. This should make it stand out and therefore be easier to memorise visually.
In the fourth column learners make any notes about ways to remember. It could be a mnemonic, something about the etymology, a related or similar word or part of a word, broken down into morphemes, etc.
Their final job before they cover the word is to establish the word shape. They write the word on the middle horizontal line in column five, using the squares to show where there are sticks (tall letters) and tails (letters that drop below the line). Then they draw around the outline of the word. This helps to fix the image of the word-shape in the mind. They look away and try to 'see' the word in their mind's eye.
Then they cover the word and the first five columns. They try to 'see' the word again and then write it in the first WRITE column. They check and if it's correct they tick in the next Check column. Then they write it again, to make sure they weren't just lucky the first time! Later they test themselves again in the final column.
If they get the spelling wrong, they cross out the bit that was wrong and try to work out why they made that mistake. Then try again.
You can also print out the cover card for your students to use to cover the words. The card has reminders and hints about what to write in each column. You can laminate the card, so it can be reused.
You are very welcome to use the template with your learners (or for yourself). If the little boxes in column five have distorted when I converted it to a PDF, sorry about that. The chart will also be in my book, Teaching Spelling to English language Learners due out spring 2011, and I'll make sure it's perfect in that.
I'd be very grateful for any feedback on the chart when you've used it.
In case you missed them, you might like to look at these postings on The Spelling Blog:
Look Say Cover Write and Check:
Teaching Spelling to English Language Learners:
and the link to the Look Say Cover Write Check template on GoogleDocs is: