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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Kid Writing (Inventive Spelling)

Kid Writing (Inventive Spelling)

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I am a kindergarten teacher and I attended a workshop over the summer called "Connecting Literacy Content, Teaching, and Learning. During the two day workshop, kid writing was brought up. My feeling on "kid writing" was that it helps the students with their phonics skills. I have my class do "kid writing" weekly and we make their writings into books, send them home to be viewed by their parents, and returned for their portfolios. According to the speech therapist that was also in attendance, she felt it was not good for students to use "kid writing". Anyone have an opinion that they would like to share?

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colleen Owens's picture

I agree "kid writing" helps students with their phonetic skills. Students in our intervention program are also taught how to tap out the sounds. I expect my students to spell words that are on our classroom word wall correctly. We go over these words often.

colleen Owens's picture

I agree "kid writing helps students with their phonetic skills. It is also a good way to assess students understanding of letters and sounds. I expect my students to spell the word on the classroom word wall properly. Using classroom resources is also important. I will ask students "Is that word in our classroom somewhere?"

colleen Owens's picture

Developmental spelling is imortant. Children feel proud when they write something and others can read it. Allowing the developmental process to take place builds confidence.

colleen Owens's picture

I have taught grades K-2 and the expectations for writing are different at each level. I only had my Kindergarten students edit words from the word wall. My second grade students edit with a writing partner then conference with the teacher before they publish.

Yer's picture

I teach Kindergarten and just started encouraging my students to writing more. They are still afraid to write because they don't think that they can do it. However, we've been practicing and it's amazing what they can do with their "kid writing." This type of writing is neat because the students can go back and reread what they wrote by sounding out the words. Most of the students are starting to get more confident about writing.

Cara Roberts's picture

I am a fourth grade teacher I have always felt that kid writing is not the best way for kids to learn how to spell. When kids come to fourth grade they are still using invented spelling and I think it's a really hard habit to break. I also think that we have gotten very disconnected with the importance of knowing how to spell and therefore we're not concerned with how kids spell because of our access to technology. What I see in the classroom is very different because my students want to be better spellers and when they aren't they are very insecure when it comes to writing despite the fact that they may have great ideas to put onto paper. We were all taught to spell correctly at a young age and many great writers came about. At fourth grade we should be able to understand what our students are trying to say without having to decode through the invented spelling.
I also look at my own children and one is in first grade. He has a great desire to spell things correctly and I think for him it is helping him to make connections with his in reading ability.

Kim's picture

I have taught special education for 10 years and have had great success with inventive spelling. As Teresa stated, sometimes kids get so caught up in how to correctly spell the words that the creativity does not come through. They know that I will go back and help them edit the paper, so writing now becomes a fun activity! My main goal for my students is to get their ideas down on paper then go back and edit. It is a wonderful program to encourage independent writing skills.


Joyce Samson's picture

Cara, it's a balancing act trying to free them up to get their ideas down through kid spelling and getting them to use correct spelling. I too wonder if invented spelling is relied on too much to the detriment of spelling words correctly. I give my 2nd graders the strong message that correct spelling is now important especially for a final draft. And if they have learned the correct spelling of a word or can access it on a chart in the room then I expect to see it spelled correctly on all their writing, sloppy copy or not. But I too worry about "unlearning" inventive spelling and the transition to correct spelling for some of my children. I see that it can be a habit that's hard to break.

chuisjen's picture
First Grade Teacher, Michigan

Like Teresa, I teach first grade. As my kids write, they are encouraged to use their writing tools and to do their best with inventive spelling.
During the year, we work to polish our writing by focusing on spelling patterns and conventions. While I write, I strech words out and model the writing and thinking process for the kids so that they understand how they may do the same.
In my mind, it is unrealistic to expect kids to spell perfectly at this age. And, if I expected them to, they would become wrapped up with the mechanics and not develop their ideas.

ashleyp's picture

This is my second year teaching kindergarten. I have heard the term "invented spelling" but was always a little unsure of its definition. I have my students do journal writing first thing every morning. They draw a picture, and at the beginning of the year I write the sentence that they tell me to write. Eventually, as the students become more confident in their writing abilities, I ask them to write their own sentence. I tell them to stretch out the words and listen for the sounds they will write. I think this is a great way to spark the students' interest in writing. They see their brothers and sisters writing and so they long to be like their siblings. I agree with Amy, children will develop a poor outlook on writing if their mistakes were constantly being sought out.

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