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Student can't spell sight words


Full Member
For our spelling program, we use the basal list plus 3 sentences that include Dolce sight words. Our Spelling Words are from Open Court (<!--yuck-->) so they are very easy. Her parents say that it takes her over an hour per night to study for her "Friday" tests - Spelling and Fast Facts. They say it is the words in the sentences that she is struggling so terribly with. We do word wall work throughout the week, discuss and study the words, etc. Any suggestions for me or that I could suggest to the parent?


Senior Member
I find that some kids just freeze up when they are writing sentences rather than a word list assessment. I think they get so use to spelling by sound that they forget these are the words they have been studying all week. At the beginning of the year, I give sentence assessments and then tell the kids to proof them. We count the number of words in the sentence, be sure to start and stop your sentence correctly, and then I tell them the words in the sentence that were from our spelling list so that they can specifically check them. They underline the spelling word when they find it. By the end of the year, the love to tell me how many words and which ones came from our spelling list. It becomes a silly little game. Maybe that would help her...it seems to work for me with low or LD kiddos. If you really think she is spending that much time you could reduce the list size and see how that helps. How are her spelling grades? Do they indicate a level of difficulty? Is she a typically high anxiety child? Just questions to think about. Good luck.


Full Member
Thanks so much for the great idea!
She has great spelling grades. This is primarily due to high grades on her spelling tests, which her parents say she studies for for 1 hr per day:(. (Yes...I said one hour per day!) Her mom asked me if her (the mom's) expectations were too high. What do you say? Personally, I would not allow my child to study 1 hr. per day for spelling. I think that is just ridiculous. If you are willing to "sell" your life to it, you can do just about anything. I just think that "being a kid" is much more important than making 100s on spelling tests. The parents say that she has quit 2 of her after school activities due to all of this studying. I just feel that is terrible. But what else should I do? Tell the parents that a B or C is ok (which I believe) when they expect her to get A's? Her parents are highly intelligent/academic. They don't want her to have fewer sentences than the rest of the class.:confused:


Junior Member

I use a multisensory approach in my classroom. Some ideas for studying those sight words. Have them tap the word out on their left arm (or non writing arm) With their writing hand they will tap the letters out starting at the shoulder and going to the wrist. Once they tap out all the letters they sweep the arm saying the entire word. Another idea would be for them to write the word in sand, or in shaving cream. Or, get a sponge and trace the letters on the brillo side.


spelling word problems

Have you tried doing a hands on during your center time... For example, one center can be a letter stamp center for stamping out your spelling words for the week, using dry erase boards with multiple colors to practice writing on. Some kids will do the five times each or the repetition but will just zone out while doing so because it is boring... they also have online interactive games that involve the dolce words and are separated by levels.... Open court is def not one of my favorite programs but I guess you have to utilized it in your own interpretations of the materials if you get my drift..If you are tenured you have more flexibility in those interpretations..hahaha... I hope this helps and good luck!


Senior Member
Dolch words

If you can get a membership to www.edhelper.com, they have lots of activities that you can do with dolch words. There are word shape boxes, sentences where they fill in the blanks with the dolch words, match the word to the picture, etc. When you plan your dictation sentences, you could run off some of these activities to help reinforce the dolch words. Some could be used for homework to help parents focus on those words. I think a subscription is only about $20 a year, but I'm not sure.