Spelling Strategies


Spelling can be an area of difficulty for students.

Tried and True



This spelling method is appropriate for students who have difficulty retaining spelling words and learning to spell exception words. Select words that the student uses frequently in writing.


1. Write the word to be learned on the chalkboard or on paper.

2. Pronounce the word clearly and distinctly. Ask the student to look at the word and pronounce the word with emphasis on correct pronunciation.

3. Allow time for the student to study the word to develop an image of it. Depending upon the learning style of the student, different senses are emphasized. A student who learns visually tries to picture the word; a student who learns auditorially says the word; and the student who learns kinesthetically traces the word with a finger. The student studies the word until a picture of the word can be formed in his/her mind.

4. When the student indicates that he/she is sure of the word, erase the word and have the student attempt to write the word from memory.

5. Turn the paper over and ask the student to write the word a second time from memory. In daily writing, any misspelled words are marked out entirely and the correct form is written in its place. When a student asks how to spell a word, the teacher writes the word, while pronouncing it. Students are encouraged to make their own dictionaries from words they have learned or words that are especially difficult for them.

Adapted from: Fernald, G. (1943). Remedial techniques in basic school subjects. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mather, N., & Jaffe, L. (2002). Woodcock-Johnson III: Reports, Recommendations, and Strategies. New York: John Wiley & Sons.


Spelling Article Links

Five Guidelines for Learning Spelling and Six Ways for Practicing Spelling By: Susan Jones

How to Study Spelling Words: A Spelling Strategy for Students By: Bruce Murray

Computer Assisted Instruction

Spelling City ($30 USD per year)

Sight words apps

Dolch sight word spelling Game

Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check

1. Write the list words in first column.

2. Begin with one word, LOOK closely at the letters to notice the visual details.

3. SAY it and notice the parts to remember.

4. COVER the word and think about how the word looks (visualize it).

5. Say the word softly. WRITE it from memory in the next column.

6. Uncover and CHECK it with the word in the first column.

7. Repeat the process in the last column.

8. If it is spelled wrong in the last column, add the word to the first column again and repeat the process.


For Teachers

Why Teach Spelling?

Printable Dolch Word Lists K-3

Dolch Sight Word Checklist

An Alternative Spelling Assessment For Students With Learning Disabilities


Dolch Sight Word Assessment

Diagnostic Spelling Scale

General Principles of Spelling Instruction Even though research and clinical experience indicate that students with reading problems will have a very difficult time learning to spell, it is also clear that instruction can have a significant impact on the development of reading skills. Even though many poor readers may never fully master spelling skills at the highest levels, most can become good enough spellers to make effective use of technology and other spelling aids. In order to provide effective spelling instruction, teachers must have a firm understanding of the ways in which spelling skills develop as well as a strong knowledge of phonology, phonics, orthography, morphology, syntax, semantics.

COORDINATE SPELLING WITH WORD IDENTIFICATION INSTRUCTION. Teach students to spell (encode) the phonetically regular words they are learning to decode in a structured and systematic manner. Teach spelling rules and patterns in coordination with the decoding skills (e.g., teach the rule for doubling s, f, l & z and the -ck for the /k/ sound when closed syllable words are taught).

TEACH SPELLING DIRECTLY WITH GUIDED PRACTICE. Teach spelling patterns, rules, letter-sound associations directly, one skill at a time, with opportunities for guided practice in numerous settings until the skill is well learned.

TEACH ALL LEVELS OF WORD ANALYSIS. Begin with phonemic awareness and include letter sound associations, spelling patterns, onset-rime, rules and morphology.

DISTINGUISH BETWEEN REGULAR AND IRREGULAR WORDS. Always differentiate between regular and irregular words using clear procedures for practicing each. Regular words may be divided into those that can be spelled as they sound (REGULAR) and those that require the application of a rule (RULE WORDS). Students should practice fewer irregular words each lesson than regular. Both should be taught using multisensory strategies.

USE CUES AND MNEMONIC DEVICES. Facilitate recall of skills such as letter formation, letter sound associations, and rules with cues such as pictures, stories, rhymes, gestures, etc.

USE DISCOVERY TEACHING. Use discovery teaching techniques for spelling patterns and rules.

PROVIDE ERROR CORRECTION. Students should be given direct and immediate error correction for spelling errors. The ultimate goal is for the student to independently correct their own errors.


For Parents

Helping Your Child With Spelling