Monday, January 5, 2009

All About Spelling**

All About Spelling is a relatively new (2 year-old) spelling program that I was sent to use and review as part of the TOS Crew. I have to say that I was highly impressed with this product, and my kids enjoyed it as well!

Here is a quick snippet from their webpage:

All About Spelling is a comprehensive spelling program based on proven strategies to teach spelling using the best and easiest method possible. It gives parents, homeschoolers, and teachers strategies that work, including:

* Lessons with crucial concepts explained in easy-to-understand language

* Multisensory methods for different learning opportunities

* Effective techniques to teach both beginner and remedial spelling

Kids learn to think about spelling the right way so they can navigate increasingly complex spelling with confidence—and a smile.

If you're teaching a young child just beginning to learn or helping an older student who struggles with spelling, or if you just want a better teaching method that works, then All About Spelling is for you.

Rather than the somewhat haphazard spelling lists that many of our children encounter on Monday, practice through the week, and “test” on Friday, the All About Spelling program starts with a specific spelling concept, the children SEE the spelling concept demonstrated with phonogram tiles, they DISCUSS it(With a scripted teacher’s manual), and then they TEST it out.

I found the program to be very thorough, and review is built right in!
If you have kids that balk at “writing”, then your children will enjoy the oral and kinesthetic aspect of this program. A majority of the spelling is done with phonogram tiles. Both my 3rd grader and my 6th grader were very happy with this program, and we all enjoyed the fact that the reasons for the various spellings were listed if they were anything more than random.

This is one of my pet peeves with other spelling programs that we’ve done… “there are 5 ways to spell the /er/ sound ear, er, ir, or and ur” then they give the child a list, and expect them to know which way to spell each word. All About Spelling’s method makes so much sense. They teach each spelling of the /er/ phonogram separately (And not in adjacent lessons, either), so that the child can get a solid handle on the words that are spelled in one particular way. IF there is a general rule or “key” to that spelling, it is discussed. For instance, in the above example, we find out that “er” is the most common spelling of /er/ and is the way to spell “some who….” (like winner, singer, etc…), family positions are spelled “er”, like “mother”, “sister”, “father”, and “brother”. The spellings are further taught by the most common order, so that the words your children are “most likely” to need will be taught first.

Oh, another thing about this program, is that it builds on itself, so no matter what age you start it, you will want to start with book 1. You can zip through the lessons fairly quickly with an older child, and they don’t take very long with the younger child either, another bonus! Currently there are 4 books, and by the end of 2009 two more books will be added, completing the series and bringing the student up to the high school spelling level.

Marie Rippel, author of All About Spelling also offers a weekly newsletter with spelling tips and ideas to help “make spelling a joy”. You can sign up for that on the right hand side of the AAS home page. 

Each Level set retails for $29.95 and includes the teacher’s manual and one set of student materials. If you are teaching more than one student at the same time, you will want to purchase a second set of student materials for $12.95. The other tool required for this program is the set of letter tiles($9.95), and I would recommend getting the magnets to back them ($5.95). This puts the program in a mid-range for spelling programs, but since none of it is "consumable", it is very reasonably priced, in my opinion!

Scroll down this page to the links for sample lessons and a Scope and Sequence for Book 1 (You can find similar links on the pages for the other books as well).

I wanted to link you to a review from a fellow crew-mate, but couldn’t find it, so I hope no one minds my quoting her here… I thought this was a stunning result from using AAS…

I do achievement testing for homeschoolers using the Woodcock-Johnson Achievement test. The most important thing to consider when you read my next statement is that this test is a wide-range achievement test that produces accurate grade equivalencies (as much as possible with any test). The spelling test is given by having the child spell words and the reading test is given by having them read (decode) words orally.

Today I tested a little boy whom I had tested previously in July. His birth mother insists that he go back to regular school so the father and step mother wanted another assessment to help them interact with the IEP committee at school. This little boy has significant learning issues, possibly cognitive impairments.

His spelling score in July was 3.3 ( and today it was 6.2 -- a gain of three years in basically 3 mo of instruction. His reading(decoding) was 4.2 in July and 6.4 today. (his range of scores today - the 65% confidence interval was above the upper limit of the range of scores from July so this is a real gain).

The parents had purchased AAS immediately after testing in July and used it through August Sept and Oct. They quickly reviewed level one and went on to level two. The mother reports that they paid special attention to rule retention and the oral excercises. I could see that attention pay off in the way he attacked his test today.

I just thought others would like to know that this is a very significant gain in a short period of time.

Diane A.

If you have any questions about our experience with AAS, please contact me. Oh, and be on the look-out for another review for All About Spellings new Homophones book, coming soon.


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