Thursday, October 9, 2003

Program spells out spelling

By Gina Buccino
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - Educators hope a new word study program started this year in the elementary schools will help students excel in spelling and reading.

Ellen Donisi, instructional leader at Donovan Elementary School, said the curriculum was developed by literacy experts. In the past, teachers were following their own lesson plans in order to teach spelling; now all teachers will follow this plan.

Superintendent Bill Sears said educators found that while students would memorize words for a spelling test, they were not able to apply the words when writing or reading. He said the new curriculum helps students examine the words and patterns to read and spell better.

Students will receive instruction in nine areas: early literacy concepts, phonological awareness, letter knowledge, letter/sound relationships, spelling patterns, high-frequency words, word meaning and structure, and word solving. Teachers adhere to a month-by-month planning guide and lesson plans.

For example, students look at the word pattern of "in" and "at" to try to create new words. They use magnetic letters and note cards and are often paired with other students in an effort to learn more words, with hopes of making learning fun.

"Learning is developmental," said Donisi. "There is no one set sequence that fits each child."

Cathy Howell, instructional leader at Holbrook Elementary, said teachers and students like the new curriculum because it is interactive and everyone is learning at the same pace.

Donisi said the new curriculum is still in the early phase and teachers will have a better idea of how well it's working as the school year progresses.

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