Important for spelling in elementary school

Sarah L. Fornol

Spelling conversations in grades 1 and 2

Spelling conversations encourage reflection on language and allow teachers to gain insight into the mindsets and ideas of their students. In this way, initial insights into spelling can be initiated in the first class through the joint discussions.

Learning to write is a tedious process that takes time and practice. It is therefore important to motivate children to write early on and to maintain this motivation over a long period of time. This succeeds if the communicative function of writing is made clear to learners and this is given authentic attention in the classroom. With free acoustical writing, the children have the opportunity to write down their thoughts, wishes, ideas, experiences or fears in their own notebook right from the start. On the one hand, you are free to choose a topic and can write down what really moves you. On the other hand, they can also use a table of sounds to write words true to the word, the spelling of which they are not yet familiar with. In this way, texts are created in the first half of the school year that are perceived by the teacher and classmates and therefore taken seriously. Being able to write the first words or even texts after a short time strengthens the children's self-concept. This is further promoted by the fact that one's own texts are read out or presented and an exchange takes place about the content, which conveys appreciation and can stimulate revision processes (see figure). So far, so good - but what about the spelling?
Keep an eye on spelling
“A properly designed sound table is not only a useful aid for early independent writing, but also promotes fundamental grammatical (more precisely: phonetic-phonological and graphematic) insights" (Riegler 2009, p. 16). However, it is undisputed that free writing based on sound with the help of a sound table alone does not lead to orthographically correct spelling. Since the sound orientation of writing is only one principle among many, free sound-related writing should be combined early on with the insight that words have standardized spellings. From around the second half of the first year of school, the learners should be asked individually to spell correctly spelling. This is only possible if specific spelling lessons are given in conjunction with free aural writing (cf. Scheerer-Neumann 2020, p. 13ff.).
Ritualize spelling lessons
How can teachers deal with the many different spellings? How are orthographic structures systematically conveyed - taking these into account? It usually helps to give spelling lessons a fixed place in the week. This can be, for example, the weekly Monday morning mystery, the Thursday brain teaser and / or the Friday question. In addition, spelling lessons should be thought of as integrative. If the subject of the apple tree is the subject of the subject lesson, this can serve as an occasion to think about the stumbling blocks of the words apple and apples in German lessons. Poems or first readings (including texts you have written yourself!) Can also offer points of contact for integrative spelling lessons. Linguistic misunderstandings or ambiguities in a wide variety of everyday situations can also be taken up: beach and sea / more. A look at foreign texts by children and the comparison of children's and adult writing can also be helpful in order to clarify the actual function of spelling to learners: It represents a reading aid through the standardized spelling and enables an increase in reading speed (see Spitta 2020) .