13 October 2011

All About Spelling - A Spelling Victory!

Just so you know: this is not a paid, nor an intentional advertising post for All About Spelling - it's a post about our journey to date with this spelling curriculum.
Here goes ......

Daisy (9) has completed her All About Spelling book after a good 12 month stretch of steady go, pause, restart, go, pause, back up, pause, go, pause, etc.
Monday rolled around and she mastered all the review and nailed the last lesson down!!! No pause, or back up, or restart - just nailed it.
I was so excited, and pleased, and proud, and thankful. Our Monday was a pretty high emotional buzzy sort of day in our house.

Why such emotion over completing a spelling book?
Well, Daisy who is a very strong reader and skilled at narrations struggled with spelling. Spelling was just flat-out hard work for her, so I went looking for a spelling guide (a good while back) to help me to teach her with tools that would encourage memory retention, was hands on, systematic, and interactive with a capital *I*.

The tools that work for her; little coloured tiles, rules with review, cards to handle and shuffle, a white board and marker, a mumma right there "helping", and a lessons completed chart to colour -those tools would have to include ones that make me struggle as a teacher to use. All those tiles and index cards; and a semi scripted text (shudder).
The process used in All About Spelling is just the extreme opposite to how I learn or like to teach. But the issue at hand was not about me and my preferences. The issue was using what works for Daisy, to help her to start mastering spelling.

After going back and forth, and reading through Merry of Hope for Homeschooling's sonlight forum posts, which detailed her success with All About Spelling, I caved in on a really rough spelling week and made a desperation purchase.
♥Thanks Merry, your posts and generous advice have been such a help to us!♥

Product then in hand, I sat down to cut up and assemble all those "lovely" AAS titles and organised the cards.

AAS was my hair shirt - I did not enjoy using it - Daisy loved it! She started to make small spelling leaps forward using AAS so ........ I gritted my teeth and carried on.
I've slowly adjusted the way I use AAS (sipping aromatic cups of coffee also helps) and it's no longer a hair shirt, just a necessary part of my spelling journey with Daisy.

The learning area that has been the hardest for Daisy is the subject she enjoys doing with mum the most. She thinks spelling is fun - we do laugh a lot through her spelling lessons; one of *her* favourite spelling rules, she made it up, was " If in doubt try 'e' ".

Success leaves such a sweet taste in one's mouth too, and that has helped to make AAS a favourite time of her day.

For anyone wondering about the benefits of using a program that seems to have so many pieces and parts, and incorporates so much review - if your child is like Daisy, for whom spelling is a very tricky logic puzzle, All About Spelling may be an option for you to seriously consider.

We've used the same program for Jay, our natural speller, as a rules based and overview tool. No fussing around with tiles, just the white board, the book (an occasional card), and a good deal of auditory interaction. Great program when you can use it this way ☺).

2012 UPDATE: Daisy has found her platform and is completing a lesson a day (!!!) in her AAS book this year. Having a solid base, of all those rules, means she is now able to think in syllabic chunks and apply the rules to each syllable to master them.
I'm one very happy marmee .... & no, I'm still not fussed on using this program ☺, yet the benefits are huge so I persevere.

2013 UPDATE: Daisy is completing a lesson over a 2 day stretch and is applying the rules she has learnt in AAS to edit her own personal diary entries.  I am so proud of her and her steady progress; and yes, spelling is still a subject she 'works at' but is mastering - from one AAS book to the next AAS book.

ETA 1: A quick post about using AAS, and spelling in general,  with our older student.

ETA 2: For those looking for an AAS New Zealand supplier, Engaging Minds is an agent.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chelle,
it was wonderful to read your post. It was very timely for us! We don't homeschool but are planning to take our kids out of school and travel around the north island for the last 7 weeks of this year...and I am wanting to take the opportunity to quietly begin to really focus on improving my son's painful inability to spell. At 8, he is a great reader but he finds spelling so hard and it's so hard to read the wonderful stories he writes - which can be heartbreaking for all of us. I thought once we cracked reading (which took until last year), the spelling would flow naturally. Not so much. I am a natural speller but my husband is the opposite and my son seems stuck at the 'throw down the consonants I can hear and then sprinkle liberally with vowels' stage, and he's now starting to feel a bit sad and repelled by the whole thing.

It is wonderful to hear your success and enjoyment (well obviously not YOUR enjoyment!) of All About Spelling. I would love to use a system in the coming months and also next year, once he's back at 'normal' school - that makes logical sense to him and also doesn't frustrate him to the point of tears. As a kiwi, I want to ask how you've found the american spelling issue - surely it must affect the rules? all those lonely o's when we use ou's? It's so expensive and such a one-off kind of choice, I would love to get your feedback.

Thanks so much for blogging - you are doing so many things I would love to include more in my life - thanks for the inspiration. Yay you!

Many blessings on your family,

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chelle,
I think I'll by the first 2 or 3 levels and see how we go. I'm pretty sure Level 1 will be completed quite quickly.
My DS is very good at learning lists and getting them 'right' for Friday's test but then totally forgets them (very quickly!) unless we practice every word - which I put down to him lacking an understanding of phonics - he's a smart boy and I think he is relying on gross memory to remember every word, without the benefit and assistance that phonics would give him. So, I really like the idea of going through phonics thoroughly and giving him nice, logical rules that he can learn and apply throughout his whole life - and am impressed with the idea of targetted and structured revision that helps him keep practicing and applying the rules and learning he's accumulated.

I know all kids are different, but would love to know approx how long it took you to work through Level 2. After reviewing the shipping costs (!) I was thinking it might be better to splurge on Levels 1-3 in one fell swoop!

Thanks so much for responding, I really appreciate your comments.

Anonymous said...

Just popped over from TWTM to read this.
Thanks. Really help filled post.

Chelle said...

Hi Jen,
thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!
Always happy to chat about helping our children learn, regardless of where their academic learning is done ☺
I can relate to painful spelling.
We found that using AAS helped Daisy to solidify what each phonetic sound looked like so she can create it from memory - reading phonetically is no problem, the word is already there to see and say.
(Getting our dd's eyes checked helped too - she had some vision issues that have been corrected).
We've found the US spelling rules and phonetic sounds are not hard to readjust in AAS, sites like this one http://www.englishclub.com/writing/spelling_american-english.htm are really helpful.
I pre-read a lesson before I teach it, to make sure I have the sounds and spellings right for 'kiwi' spelling.

AAS is incremental and mastery involved - the student needs to master each lesson before moving to the next. So if they are moving at turtle speed, then patiently plodding along is the only option. (Some words, from previous lessons, or even outside the book, and I felt she just needed to know, we'd review with tiles regularly).

Have you managed to have a look at the samples for AAS - it may help your decision?
Being able to work through samples of other programs helped me ascertain that they would not work with Daisy.
(I know the cost is ouchy. We initially purchased the tiles, the teachers book and the student pack for 2 levels, nothing else. ... i kept telling myself, I can resell them later whether they worked for our family or not).

Really praying you find a good, eventual, spelling option for your DS.

May you have a wonderful trip away to the South (that journey is one of my 'wish' trips).

If we can help further, just let us know.
blessings and smiles,

PS: sorry if there are typos in this reply my brain is fried after a productive long day ... I'm just going to shut my eyes and hit *post* ☺

October 21, 2011 12:24 AM