Spelling is a key element of literacy acquisition. But for students with language-based learning disabilities like dyslexia, spelling can be an area of difficulty. With the right execution, spelling instruction can be used as an important tool to support reading and writing fluency for these struggling readers. Here are some tips to help you make your classroom spelling tests more dyslexia-friendly:
- Teach before you test: Resist the urge to test before you teach. Students with dyslexia need multiple exposures to a literacy concept before they master it, and the best way to support their learning is through instruction first.
- Be explicit! Learn the rules of English spelling so that you can teach it. Here is a great post by ReadNaturally.com about the importance of explicit spelling instruction.
- Approach spelling words systematically by syllable type: Recent research shows that students with language-based learning disabilities learn best when taught by a Structured Literacy approach.
- Teach one syllable at a time: Stay long enough to make sure students have mastered the syllable - eventually covering the six syllable types: closed, open, silent-e, r-controlled, vowel pair, and consonant-le.
- Teach one 'spelling option' at a time: Some sounds have more than one spelling option (for example the sound /er/ can be spelled three ways 'ir', 'ur', and 'er'. Limit spelling tests to one spelling option so students can learn the words in isolation.
Have other tips for making your spelling lessons more dyslexia friendly? Comment here!