Spelling Bee – To be or not to be a communicator?

BCW teamUncategorized

Supporting communicators to become spellers.

The act of communicating is a complex process of developing, sharing and receiving ideas. It takes many forms and is embedded in a multitude of spaces and serves various agendas.

Being a communicator involves developing the skills, knowledge and understanding of the how, what and why of the different forms of communication. It involves developing an interest in and different attitudes towards the range of interactions involved in being a communicator.

One of the skills of using written communication is spelling. Being able to spell ensures that there is a common way for written ideas to be shared and received. But do our learners appreciate this is why they ‘learn to spell’? Without an appreciation or understanding of how spelling supports communication lessons and inquiries focusing on spelling are meaningless or irrelevant.

Exploring spelling can be more than just memorising words; it can be an exciting inquiry into patterns, history, connections and code breaking within a transdisciplinary context. Every subject has a coded language that describes its ideas, context, function and history. Language inquiries can become rich links across subjects and can also support transdisciplinary connections. Using this transdisciplinary language can open up word and spelling inquiries and move away from irrelevant memory lists and fragmented learning.

So how can we support all members of a learning community develop the

  • I: Interests
  • A: Attitudes
  • S: Skills
  • K: Knowledge and
  • U: Understandings

needed to become a proficient speller and why bother?


Why bother?

  • By encouraging students to inquire into the bigger picture that surrounds spelling we are inviting them to develop a bank of strategies that will enable them to develop their vocabulary, to read and understand texts, to write and express themselves clearly, thus enriching their communication options.
  • By providing opportunities for students to examine the linguistic structures and history of a word, they are being invited to develop strategies that will help them when encountering new words in their writing or reading. This in turn will support them as they participate in the expressive and receptive meaning making process of being a communicator.
  • Language becomes an exciting, interesting and valuable tool for understanding the past, seeing connections across subjects and developing word attack and inquiry strategies that will help develop more reliable spelling choices.
  • Providing opportunities to explore words relevant to both learning and for the student provides an opportunity for collaboration, action taking and meaning making, which develops strategies that enable students to continue developing as communicators, not just masters of a skill.
  • This approach values the history and context of all languages that learners bring to their learning community. It encourages students to view spelling as a dynamic and relevant process that has a place in their becoming efficient and interesting communicators. The sort of communicator who can make, share and appreciate in many meaning making processes.

The I ASK U model used  to focus inquiries into spelling

I: Interests- Choice and Voice: Supporting agency and choice in the learning process.

Bringing forward students ideas and choices when engaging in inquiries that involve spelling, demonstrates a valuing of prior knowledge and supports higher levels of engagement as the students can see and feel a relevance to their own worlds.

This model provides opportunities for the learners to share the current vocabulary they hold on a topic by providing rich provocations. These ideas and words can then be used and extended in specific word/ spelling inquiries.

INTEREST: Encourage the learners to become analysts of their own spelling, thus helping them to identify what areas they need to spend further time on in order to develop their communication skills.

  • BCW STRATEGY- Analysing words (Being developed)
  • BCW STRATEGY – Sorting and grouping words (being developed)
  • BCW STRATEGY – Word webs

INTEREST: Opens up grouping and inquiry task learning engagements so hey require more than decoding and the recall of words. Provides opportunities to explore word history, patterns and plausible sequences and rules, contexts, meanings and connections to other areas.

INTEREST: Share the connections between languages and the written codes different groups use to share ideas. See spelling as one tool in a communicator’s set of choices when exploring the world.



A Attitudes- Relationships: The relationship or positioning possibilities learners’ might have with beliefs, ideas and perspectives of being a learner.

ATTITUDE: Encourage learners to explore the attitudes and possible ways of positioning themselves when investigating the specific skills, knowledges and understandings of being a communicator when spelling. This will help them see themselves as resilient, effective and capable when problem posing and problem solving in spelling.

Provide opportunities for the learners to explore how they might position themselves in inquiries that are connected to spelling.

ATTITUDE: Encourage the learners to see problem posing and solving as part of the communication process and that they can develop a set of strategies that will support them become effective and efficient communicators

  • BCW Concept Observations – Spelling (Being developed)

ATTITUDE: Encourage and reflect on the process and strategies used in an inquiry process connected to spelling. This will support learners to develop ideas and strategies for transferring their learning and different ways of positioning themselves when faced with challenges or opportunities

ATTITUDE: Share the connections between languages and the written codes. Give learners an opportunity to value their own and another’s language, thus helping to develop a positive attitude towards how they approach spelling inquiries.

S: Skills: Processes and strategies: Skills and strategies that support learners’ engagement in the learning process.

SKILL: Provide opportunities for students to unpack and analyse words. Making visible the history, morphology and orthographic patterns of words, assists learners in developing skills for deconstructing and reconstructing words, rather than relying on recall or memorisation.

SKILL: Involve students in developing and valuing a print rich environment, which can include more than one language.

SKILL: Model and provide opportunities for students to actively investigate how words are constructed and the common letter patterns and rules that guide their construction. Make use of students’ ideas and prior knowledge, rather than imposing mnemonics or rule rhymes that may not be relevant to them. These inquiries can be used to support transdisciplinary inquiry if teachers choose to use the exploring vocabulary strategy.

SKILL: Provide opportunities for learners to investigate the meaning and contexts that words are formed and used in

SKILL: Build in frequent and regular opportunities for learners to explore, analyse and reflect on how words are constructed, have developed over time and the connection between spelling and meaning.

K: Knowledge: Knowledge and facts: Details, facts and knowledge about a topic or process.

Knowledge: Providing opportunities for students to unpack and analyse words, their history, morphology and orthographic patterns, assists learners in developing the skills for deconstructing and reconstructing words, rather than relying on recall or memorisation.

Knowledge: Use visible thinking routines to bring forward ideas about spelling knowledge and how it can be used to problem pose and solve in the reading and writing process

 Knowledge: Use games and reflections to help students unpack ideas about how words are constructed, word history, common patterns, connections between meanings and the role of context

Knowledge: Provide spelling exploration opportunities that are relevant and contextualised within a class inquiry so learners can develop both a knowledge of words and the contexts they can be used in.

  • BCW Concept packs (weather, transport, numbers, etc.)
  • BCW Word Inquiry Posters
  • BCW Flip Books- Math focuses

Knowledge: Develop regular and frequent opportunities for learners to develop their personal repertoire of spelling strategies by exploring the linguistic history and structure of words. This will allow students to develop knowledge of a range of choices about which strategies he/she should use when encountering the reading or writing of a new word.

U: Understanding Concepts: Supporting learners’ meaning making and enabling learning to become portable in problem solving situations.

Understanding: Learners need an opportunity to reflect on the ‘so what’ of learning spelling.

Understanding: Learners need an opportunity to reflect on why having and using a bank of spelling strategies (that they have helped investigate and develop) that help them adapt and make informed choices when being a communicator.

Understanding: Learners need an opportunity to look at concepts such as patterns, sequence, systems, rules, context and history and how and why these influence the creation and use of words.

Understanding: By providing opportunities to work collaboratively on the how, what and why of spelling, learners can explore how to become effective and efficient communicators, who appreciate and value the many forms of communicating.

All BCW spelling resources support the development of the above conceptual understandings.