Friday, November 13, 2015

Spelling Tests

You remember taking spelling tests, right?  You know...the assignment when you had to fold your notebook paper in half, number it one to ten (or twenty, if you had a tough teacher) and wait on your teacher to call out your spelling words to you while you wrote each one...skipping lines, of course.

I despised those days!  Not because Phonics and I weren't friends, but rather, because I would sit there for fifteen minutes bored out of my ever-loving mind!

Yet when I began my first year of teaching in a fourth grade ELA classroom, I assigned spelling words each Monday and I did the dreaded sit and spell spelling test on Friday.  After moving to second grade, I still did the same test.  Now, I did evolve a bit and went to allowing the learners to choose their own words, but I still assessed them in the same old way.

About this time last year......I WAS OVER IT!  I needed a new way to assess spelling (although, I must admit, this article is convincing me that I need to stop the tests altogether!) so I got the bright idea to try to do it thematically.  For example, my learners completed their spelling test during the week leading up to Halloween on spider web paper.  Heck, we even tested our /oi/ and /oy/ words on tin foil.  But the process was still the same.  I was just changing the paper.

Then BAM!  That's when the idea hit me!  I created a Google Form spelling test and I have never seen learners so engaged during a spelling test!  They loved it and their scores reflected it.  Through the rest of the year last year, that's usually how we tested over our words.  Click here to see an example test.

This year, I've had to get a bit more creative.  Our computer carts are now hot commodities and it's hard to get one booked consistently (a good problem to have, right??  That means our campus is rocking technology!).  Today was one of those days when I needed a great idea.  And to be VERY honest, it seriously hit me RIGHT BEFORE I gave the test:  I TOOK THE TEST TODAY.

You read that correctly.  I, Mrs. Thompson...the teacher, took the test.  I called out each word and spelled it on the board.  Some of our words I decided to spell correctly, but some words I decided needed to be misspelled.  What did the learners do?  They GRADED ME.  

For each word I spelled correctly, they put a check mark or smiley face by that number.  For each word I spelled incorrectly, they put an X or a sad face.  Then, here's the kicker, they had to correct my spelling.  It was a mixture of editing practice and a spelling test all rolled into one.  And guess what?  It was a HUGE SUCCESS!  The class absolutely loved getting to "grade" me, they giggled (during a spelling test...WHAAAAT???) as I misspelled some "easy" words, and they did great!  Perhaps their most favorite part was that they got to "be the teacher" for a bit.  One little guy even wrote his name as "Mr. Will" on his paper!  Ha!

Next week, we're on to Sight Words, where we will be assessed by identifying our words from a Wordle-style doc.  Word Study, too, can be creative and engaging!  Have a great weekend!


  1. I love your ever-evolving, self-reflection to ensure your class is engaging and students enjoy learning!

  2. Thank you! Word Study is pretty near to my heart! I get to let my creativity run wild!