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Multi-Modal Spelling Strategies


ELA: Writing ELA: ^Other Study Skills & Tools K-8 Strategy


Auditory Processing Working Memory Verbal Memory Processing Speed

Multi-Modal Spelling Strategies

If your student is struggling with spelling, particularly if they have stronger visual memory

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students with stronger visual skills and difficulty with spelling will use visual and kinesthetic reinforcement to support spelling retention.
  2. Draw a Picture: Integrate a picture with each letter of the spelling word, or on the challenging letters. The student can remember the picture and perhaps a story to go with the picture to effectively remember the spelling.
  3. Use Different Colors: Trace the word using one color for the beginning sound, a second color for the vowel, and a third for the end sound. Adjust depending on the complexity of the word, perhaps a fourth color for silent "e" or a different color for consonant digraphs (sh, th, etc.) Have the student re-write the word independently two or three times using the same colors used for tracing.
  4. Create a "Staircase": Have the student place one letter (or phoneme such as "sh" or "ch") on each stair. Breaking up the letters and going up or down the staircase can help the student visualize the spelling more easily.
  5. Reflex Spelling: Repeated written practice will build automaticity. Have the student write the word twice the normal size several times to exaggerate the feel, and hence ingrain the spelling, of the word. When the student can write double the size correctly without hesitating, have the student write the word in a normal size without hesitating. If the student spells the word incorrectly and/or hesitates, go back to a few more practices with the DOUBLE size.
  6. Skywriting: Students write words in the air using the whole arm in a big movement pattern. Using large muscles to practice forming the letters will help ingrain in memory. When forming the imaginary letters, stand up with the whole arm and index and middle fingers extended straight out. Students should also say each letter aloud as they are skywriting for added reinforcement.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Spelling relies on a variety of cognitive skills, most typically working memory and verbal memory. Students with stronger visual memory and reasoning skills, however, might benefit from using some less common and less traditional approaches that enable them to use visual reinforcement to more effectively recall spellings. While not as important as it once was, spelling is still an important skill for developing students' overall writing skills.

Best-suited for students with weaker: Attention, Auditory Processing, Inhibition, Self-Regulation, Long-term Memory, Short-Term Memory, Working Memory, Processing Speed (Source: Digital Promise Learner Variability Project)