Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A TOS Crew Review: Spelling You See

Do you remember those weekly spelling tests? The constant drilling. Writing the spelling words 10’xs over…

Octupuses (that’s not right)
Octupsusi (still not right!)
Octopuses (there we go!)
Octupouses (how was that again?)
Octo…forget it.

Josiah is not a natural speller. I am not sure if most dyslexics have this issue, but he tends to spell phonetically. Which means he spells a word like it sounds. Unfortunately, English is a sneaky language. And neither does Josiah care for the spelling rules I’ve been attempting to drill into him. For example, not too long ago he spelled a word incorrectly. He spelled “laf” instead of “laugh.” When I made him correct it, he looked at me quizzically and said, “But it could be right.” Anything is debatable in his world. 


The folks at Math-U-See have made spelling a lot easier. They recently released a new spelling program, Spelling You See. For my review, Josiah and I were given Spelling You See: Americana (Level D). I have start out by saying that this program is Terrific. With a capital T. How’s that for getting it out there?

What I Received


I received Spelling You See: Americana (Level D) which included; A teacher’s manual, 2 workbooks and a package of erasable colored pencils which immediately became a big hit (who would have thought?).  

Here is the pricing info:

Instructor’s Handbook ~ $14
Student Pack ~ $30

What about grade level? This is my favorite part. Spelling You See doesn’t use grade levels. Pshaw. Who needs grade levels? Not this girl. The program starts the student according to their ability level. 

Spelling You See approaches spelling in a unique way. Gone are the word lists and hours of rote memorization. This program teaches the student to spell by giving them meaningful connections and teaching them to see letter patterns in words. The student is given opportunity to practice through copywork and dictation.   

The thought is that there are 5 Developmental Stages of Spelling. There needs to be a natural progression when learning to spell.

Repetition is the name of the game, but it doesn’t leave the student lost in endless spelling drills.

One of Josiah’s more effective learning styles is visual. I also learn visually so he and I had a good time with this program. Spelling You See teaches through visual memorization of spelling patterns.

There are 5 different levels of Spelling You See. I was directed to the placement guidelines when deciding what level to begin.

In Americana (Level D) the lessons are centered on patriotic stories or informational paragraphs. During the course of the week the student will focus on certain aspects of spelling. These are: vowel chunks, consonant chunks, bossy r chunks, Tricky Y Guy, endings and silent letters. Each lesson is divided into 5 sections; A, B, C, D and E. The intention is that the student will work through the lesson over a week. There are 36 relatively short lessons in Americana.

How We Used It

I need to first tell you about Wild Tales (Level C). I received an unexpected, but happy box (love those “happy boxes”) at my front door. Level C came to visit before we received the product I was anticipating (Level D).

We got to spend a few weeks immersing ourselves in all things Spelling You See. Though Josiah was far beyond the reading level, it was really great to get our feet wet. He soared through the level and gained so much confidence.
Wild Tales (Level C) starts with Nursery Rhymes and ends with nonfiction passages about animals.  
When we received Americana (Level D), Josiah was an old pro at “chunking” (more on that).
Here is how it all works.
Day 1 (or A): The teacher reads the passage to the student. In our case, I had Josiah read. He gets offended if I try and read for him now. We've come along way, baby. On this day, the instructions tell us that we need to find all the “constant chunks” and mark them in blue.

 Not to worry. The folks at Spelling You See have explained everything beautifully. Each spelling chunk is a different color. For example, the vowel chunks (which are introduced first) are marked in yellow. Also, the parent (which would be me) assists the student in this task. Josiah managed beautifully.

On the facing page the student is asked to copy part of the passage. Then they are asked to mark the constant chunks in the copywork using the passage marked on in the first assignment.   Take a good look at the page below. You can see that it does not match the lesson above. This is actually from a lesson that required Josiah to mark the vowel chunks (in yellow). The beauty of the program is that while the student might be asked to mark different spelling chunks the progression is the same day to day.

Day 2: On this day Josiah repeated the lesson. Only then his copywork might be the rest of the passage. He marks the constant chunks as before. Here is Day 2's "mark the passage" example from the first lesson I showed you.

Day 3: More of the same.
Day 4: Ru-Roh! Josiah starts out by reading the passage and marking the constant chunks. I then read the passage to him while he writes it down. Word for word. He then marks the constant chunks. 
Day 5: Again. Josiah reads the paragraph, marking the constant chunks. I read the passage to him and he writes it down. Dictation at its best.
I also didn't have to drag out any of my 742 notebooks. Spelling You See has provided all that lovely copywork and dictation space for me.
It might seem that after 5 days of working with the same passage Josiah's eyes would be rolling in the back of his head. Nonsense! It was very effective. If ever the need would arise to find “vowel chunks” in our sleep we would be so on!
When it came to start chunking the constants there were a few Josiah had to think about. With practice, however, it came naturally.
I was overjoyed and amazed about how well he did. He is my dyslexic boy. And while his handwriting is still atrocious... he is spelling!

My Thoughts and More Tidbits
I have to say I am a fan of the short lessons. I never felt like we were settling in for the long haul (got your water? Did you go to the bathroom? Where is my phone? Did you have a snack?).
It is very easy to follow. The instructions are concise and very easy to follow. I don’t have to have a manual to understand the manual.
Speaking of manuals, the Instructor’s guide is nice, but this is one you don’t really need (in my opinion). The Student Books are thorough.
The passages are fun to read. Not only was Josiah learning to spell, but he learned a little bit of history along the way. 
Josiah did have one concern. He had a hard time seeing the yellow marks. He is not willing to give up the colored, erasable pencils. Those are a keeper. I did encourage him to mark harder. We'll see. 
A few years ago Spelling You See might not have been the best choice for us. Copywork has always been a bit tortuous for him. He has really progressed, however, and I feel that now we can concentrate on some of those things. If your child is dysgraphic (like Josiah) you might have to determine if the visual aspects of the program outweighs the copywork aspect. I want to encourage those of you who are still earlier in that particular journey…it does get better.
I’m really excited about Josiah’s progress with Spelling You See. It has been a positive experience and I look forward to seeing great results every week.
Below is a list of all the Spelling You See levels and prices.

Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $20

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B)
Instructor’s Handbook $16
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: Americana (Level D)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

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Have fun spelling!

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