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Customized Spelling Lists


I’ve been grading my students’ personal narratives this morning using the rubric I created last month. That being said, I decided not to just grade their personal narratives, but also to use them as a way to create lists of misspelled words so that I can differentiate their weekly spelling lists.

My colleague Kate gives her students a spelling test each Friday, like I do. However, she customizes the spelling lists so that they include five class words and five personal words. I think this is so smart, therefore, starting on December 3rd I’m going to do the same thing.

For instance, I’ve read through about half of the class’s narratives so far and have found over ten words for some kids since they include all of the drafts in the same folder as their published pieces. (Published pieces have few errors in GUMS, which is why looking back at their drafts to see the words they struggled with is exceedingly helpful.) For instance, just look at a couple of the lists that I created for some of my kids:

Student A:
dressed
said
dumbest
breakfast
done
grocery
went
laundry
suits
seconds
tired
kind
skip
fluently

Student B:
hike
let’s
interception
touchdown
thought
after
surely
pitch
made
run
inside
Providence

I think that using misspelled words from their own writing on their weekly lists will not only help them, but will make spelling tests more authentic for them. (Authenticity is something that I’m sure you’ve seen Ruth and I talking about in the past week since we left NCTE. Definitely a new theme of ours!)

If you have any advice for me on how YOU customize your students’ weekly spelling lists, then please post a comment! I’m definitely looking for feedback and new ideas.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

3 thoughts on “Customized Spelling Lists Leave a comment

  1. I used Nancy Atwell’s Spelling routine from In the Middle when I taught 5th grade. The students were responsible for making their own lists. I did the same thing as you, I kept lists for them as I graded their writing. When I conferred with them each week, we would add words to their list as needed.

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  2. We have a list of High Frequency Words the fifth grade needs to know how to spell so at the beginning of the year I quiz them on all 300 words. The words they miss become part of their personalized lists. They have to spell 5 of them each week. If they misspell the word it becomes part of their list again next week. We have a spelling principle each week for which we make a list of words together. They may choose 5 of those words for their list. (More if they are done with their High Frequency Words) Each week we also do Making Big Words (by Pat Cunningham) and they take 5 of the words we go over in that for their list. So every kid has 15 words every week, but never the same 15 words. After they pick the words and write them on their index card, I always check to make sure they are picking appropriate words for their level.
    Wheeew, writing that out, I am not sure it makes sense. It is kind of one of those things you have to see in action.

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  3. I like this idea… in the past I have used a sticky note at the kids desk, as they are struggling with a word I write it or they write it on the note, at the end of the week I would collect them and it would be apart of their list for that next week. However, I love this idea! I think that it what I may try and do. THANKS!

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