Spelling Power is a spelling program for ages eight to adult. It has been around
since 1993. I received the fourth edition (copyright 2006) for review. This edition
includes a DVD and CD-ROM as well as a rearrangement and reformatting of some
of the text to make it easier to read and use.
The big orange 330-page book is admittedly overwhelming when you first see it, but two facts encourage the teaching parent to persist: this program only takes 15 minutes a day per child, and it is touted as a sure-fire method of teaching spelling, even to those who may seem hopeless. The birth of Spelling
Power is a result of the author's desire and need to find a spelling program that would work for her then sixth-grade daughter who was spelling at a second-grade level.
Spelling Power is well organized, with quick start steps, placement tests, spelling lists, and reinforcement activities. Sections on teaching proofreading skills and dictionary skills are also included. The book also covers teaching younger students and those with learning disabilities as well as using the curriculum in a group setting.
The Teacher's Resource CD-ROM includes all the forms used with the program, a searchable word list, and the digital spelling tutor. The searchable word list contains 12,000 of the most frequently used and misspelled words, which is 7,000 words beyond the 5,000 taught in Spelling
Power. If the word is on a Spelling Power flow list, then that information is provided. You are also told how frequently the word is used, the average grade level the word is taught, and who typically misspells the word (whether this is students in elementary, high school, college, or business people). This searchable word list is used in conjunction with the proofreading chapter as a way of helping children integrate spelling with their daily writing in other subjects.
The digital spelling tutor can be used by older children for extra drill practice but not as a replacement for the daily testing of flow words. This digital spelling tutor can effectively be used as one of the skill building activities described below.
It is recommended that you read the entire Quick Start Introduction (about 40
pages) in one sitting, which amounts to about an hour of your time, and then
watch the Quick Start Seminar DVD (60 minutes), in which the author explains
how to use Spelling
Power. Even though I have read and used Spelling Power in the past,
I found the DVD extremely helpful in understanding the basic teaching steps and
learned more than I had when only using the book as a resource. You are then
ready to start implementing the program with your children.
It is highly recommended that spelling be taught every school day. "One or two periods a week are not frequent enough for economical learning and retention. These periods require approximately 15 minutes per day. It is important that you resist allowing other activities to encroach on your daily spelling period. Making spelling one of the first activities of the day can help you assure it remains a priority." So what does an average daily session with Spelling
Power look like? The 15-minute teaching time is broken up into three 5-minute segments: pre-test, study, and skill building.
Each group of daily "flow words" begins with a rule: /or/ can be spelled or as in corn, oar as in boar, oor as in door, our as your, and ar as dwarf. There are 11 levels of Flow-Word Lists. Level A lists contain roughly 10 words and Level K lists have about 35 words each. After announcing the rule, students write the rule on their Daily Test Sheet. Then the words are dictated one at a time. The student repeats the word, writes it, and then checks his spelling immediately by listening to the parent spell the word letter-by-letter. So each word is checked right away--not at the end of the daily test session. This "immediate self-correction" is another significant feature of Spelling
Power. If the word has been spelled incorrectly, the student records the correct spelling in the "Words to Learn" column of his of his Daily Test sheet. Then the process is repeated for the next word on the list. You only test for five minutes or until the end of the list of words in that group, whichever comes first, starting the next day where you left off the previous day.
The next 5-minute session is studying the misspelled words. On a "10-Step Study Sheet" misspelled words are studied thoroughly in ten different ways: pronouncing the word, studying the way it looks in specific ways, saying and spelling the word, visualizing the word with eyes closed and saying and spelling it, checking your spelling, tracing the word largely with two fingers as you say each letter, checking again, writing the word without looking at it, checking once again, and repeating the process if misspelled. As you can see, another distinguishing feature of Spelling Power is its multi-sensory approach. This is evidenced in all three aspects of the daily sessions.
The final 5 minutes is spent in skill-building activities that teach or reinforce spelling words. Directions for 134 of these are supplied in the book, and many of these are available as printable activity cards (with directions students can understand themselves) on the included CD-ROM. The book activities are indexed by group number/spelling rule if they are group/rule related. There is also a learning style index for auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, and visual learners and an index for activities requiring more than one person, although most activities can be done individually. They are divided into the following categories: Drill Activities (repetition of the word), Skill Builders (review of phonics and spelling rules), Writing Prompters, Dictionary Activities, Homonyms, and Proofreading. Word Card Games, Worksheet Activities, Teacher-Created Games, Teacher-Directed Activities, Dictation Exercises, and Commercial Games (Scrabble, for example) are also described. As you can see, there is a plethora of reinforcement resources available for this session of your spelling period.
One thing I really like about this program is that review is built in: "One of the most dynamic aspects of Spelling
Power is that every word is studied until it is spelled correctly at least once. This differs dramatically from "weekly" approaches, where the student takes a test on Friday and then is given a new list on Monday, regardless of whether he has mastered the words. Spelling Power's approach ensures that every word is mastered." Student and teacher record keeping is also integrated into the program.
Spelling Power is one of the most thorough, well-researched, tested, and proven spelling programs. At $65 it is a one-time solid investment that can be used by all the spellers in your family for a lifetime of learning.