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Spelling is Individual

Shanna Thompson
EDU 397.01
Developmental Spelling Analysis

For as long as I can remember, reading and writing have been my strongest
subjects in school. I have always paid close attention to correct spelling and

grammar in both my writing and other peoples writing. Being a good speller has
really made me appreciate the need for quality spelling instruction, as well as
making spelling individualized to every specific student. I was able to spell most
common words correctly by probably around second or third grade, with very few
spelling errors in grades after that. Out of curiosity, I wanted to see exactly what my
level of spelling was when I was an elementary student, so my writing sample is
actually one that my mom saved from me when I was younger. It is from the very
end of my first grade year, when I had just recently turned seven. The sample is of a
story that I wrote in school, and was probably taken for the purpose of my teacher
measuring where I was at as a writer at the end of the school year.

Word Chart
Groche (2)

Hart (2)


A (4)
Was (5)
On (2)
And (3)
His (4)
He (4)
Pumped (2)



All of the words in the writing sample fall in the phonetic, transition, and
correct columns, with none of them in the precommunicative or semiphonetic
columns. Only six words are in the phonetic column. The word once, spelled ones,
is definitely spelled how it may sound to a first grader. The name of the dog in the
story is Grouchy, spelled Groche, which I would not expect any first grade student
to know how to spell since it is not a common word. The letter e is on the end of it
because phonetically an e sounds like it should make the y sound at the end of
a word. Tear, spelled Teir, is also spelled like it sounds, with the common mistake of
mixing up the ei with the ea. Last in the phonetic column, the word grouchy,
which is spelled Grochey, is another word that a first grader is not expected to
spell, but it is a close phonetic guess to the actual spelling.
Like the phonetic column, the transition column only has six words as well. All
of the words in this column are only missing about one letter or have an extra letter,
have a vowel in every syllable, and have close to the correct spelling. Thier is
spelled close to correctly, with the common mistake of mixing up the ie and ei.
Hart is spelled almost correctly as well, only lacking the e in heart. Wenever is
only missing the h in whenever, similar to wen, which is missing the h. This
word is spelled correctly later on in the paper, with the h included in when.
Finally, barcked, is supposed to be barked, which only has one extra letter c, but
is a common mistake since the ck is a common letter pattern.
Out of the 50 words, 38 made their way into the correct column. Some
difficult words like upon, pumped, and name, are spelled correctly. For a first
grade speller, these words are quite challenging, so I am awed that I was able to
spell them correctly at that age. I am also impressed with the use of punctuation in
this sample. There are periods at the end of every sentence, and they are rarely

over used nor under used. The first word of every sentence is capitalized, as are
proper nouns. One specific use of punctuation that is used is an apostrophe in
dogs, when referring to the dogs name. The correct usage of periods at the end of
sentences is also something to take note of, because end line punctuation or a
period at the end of every line instead of every sentence, is common among new
writers (Hall, 1999). The handwriting in the sample is legible and every letter and
word can be clearly read, with little to no guessing as to what it says.
Overall, the writing sample reflects a transition level of spelling. With 76%
of the spelling being correct, it is not enough of a percentage to be at the
completely correct level of 90% or more. With 12% of the words being at both the
phonetic and transition levels, there are not enough of the words in the lower levels
to justify the average level to be somewhere between phonetic and transition. More
of the words fall at the higher levels of transition and correct, therefore making the
average level of the spelling in this sample the transition level, but moving toward
the correct level.
The next step for instruction would be to create a spelling list of words based
on the mistakes in the writing sample. Focusing on the misspelled words, and even
words similar to the ones misspelled, helps a spelling list basically form itself for the
student. The spelling list is created specific to the students skill level and needs,
which is extremely important. According to an article from The Reading Teacher,
Teaching spelling at the elementary level: A realistic perspective, it is important to
make spelling lists based on the specific student because the spelling series used in
a typical schools curriculum dictates what words to teach without regard to
childrens language and background experiences (DiStefano, Hagerty, 1985, p.
373). The grammar and punctuation are correct for the most part in this sample, so

spelling is the main focus that can be taken for instruction. The best thing for a
student to do in this situation is just to study the words and take a test on them.
Strategies used to study the spelling words can be spelling the words out loud to
friends and family, writing the words over and over, and writing them in sentences.
Spelling list based on writing sample:
1. Tear
2. Fear
3. Their
4. Once
5. Bark
6. Dark
7. Heart
8. When
9. Whenever
I have included the words tear and fear in the list, because tear was spelled teir
in the sample. Fear
is included to reiterate the use of ea instead of ei. Their is on the list because it
is spelled incorrectly in the sample, and it is a commonly misspelled word since
students are usually taught to always use I before e, except after c. It is
sometimes hard to decide whether to use and s or a c to make the s sound, so
once is on the list to correct the spelling of it, and the proper use of the c in once.
Barked is spelled barcked in the sample, another common mistake of adding an
extra c for the ck sound. I have included bark on the list to correct this, as well
as dark, to repeat it. Heart being another tricky word to spell, is on the list because
of the way it is misspelled as hart in the sample. When and whenever are added to
help understand the use of the silent h before an e in the word when, and also
to show that the word whenever is one word, not two like- wen ever- in the sample.
Finally, although tummy isnt a common word, the idea that two ms need to be
used in words like that is important to start, as it was spelled tumy in the sample.

Overall, this individualized spelling list is highly successful for students, and if
feedback is individualized, performance is not judged in relation to other students
individual performance level (Van Oudenhoven, Sieto, Veen & Withag, 1983). With
individualized lists, students will not be compared to other students, but instead
have the opportunity to challenge themselves.
Every student is different, has different strengths and weaknesses, and
performs at different levels. The level of words they are learning to spell should
reflect this. Not all first graders are just learning to spell words like cat, dog, or
mom, but some of them are ready for more advanced words. My writing sample
proves that longer or more advanced words like whenever or once, can be
added into the spelling curriculum for some students. Individualized spelling lists
serve a great importance in all classrooms.
DiStefano, P. A., & Hagerty, P.J. (1985). Teaching spelling at the elementary level: A
realistic perspective.
The Reading Teacher, 38 (4), 373-377. Retrieved from:

Hall, N. (1999). Young childrens use of graphic punctuation. Language and

Education, 13 (3), 178-193.
Retrieved from:

Van Oudenhoven, J.P., Siero, F., Veen, P., & Withag, J. (1983). Effects of individualised
feedback and
instruction on effort attributions, ability attributions and spelling
achievement. Educational Studies, 9 (2), 105-113. Retrieved from:

Discussion of Scholarly References

The main reason I chose these references is because I wanted to discover
further information in these specific topics. I was interested in learning more about
elementary students punctuation use, and the importance of individualized spelling
lists. My findings were all interesting, and I thoroughly enjoyed expanding my
knowledge on these topics. I found them all through the ERIC resource on the
university library website, which has numerous scholarly resources and interesting