Spelling You See is challenging the way the world teaches spelling and, WOW, is it a great change. We were sent the Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E), a new product by Demme Learning, to review and I am so pleased with what we have seen!
Spelling You See is brand new on the market, though the big sister to the spelling program, Math-U-See, has been around for years and is very popular. The program is based on the five developmental stages of spelling: preliterate, phonetic, skill development, word extension, and derivational constancy. Just like learning to walk, the student has to move through these levels sequentially, each one building on the previous. While spelling and reading develop hand-in-hand for many students, that is not always the case and sometimes the students need to focus on the development of spelling competency. This is not the same as memorizing lists. It is developmental. Spelling You see addresses this in a fantastic way.
To implement the program, you need the Student Workbooks, the Instructor’s Handbook, and colored pencils (included in the purchase of the Student Workbooks). A timer is helpful but optional. The Student Workbooks are $30. The Instructor’s Handbook is $14. To learn more about the program, you can visit their website and read the FAQs.
About American Spirit
We were given Level E – American Spirit – to review. This has been the perfect fit for giggly girl #1, who is 9 and reads all the time. Her spelling development is pretty high but she still struggles with certain words, especially when she is writing creatively (not uncommon). We chose to have her work with this program so that she could strengthen her abilities. The placement information for this level states
“Start with American Spirit if the student is in fourth grade or above and is an established reader who is progressing in spelling. Do not place a student who is new to the program in a level higher than American Spirit.” (There are 2 levels beyond American Spirit in development.) – American Spirit Instructor’s Handbook, page 13
Notice that there are no ages attached to this placement. That is intentional by the company because, as stated earlier, this is a developmental process that goes at different speeds for different children. None of their levels have age information, though some grade level information may be referenced. They understand that the parent or instructor knows best which level a student will need based on his or her individual abilities.
There are three activities that make up the daily work in Spelling You See – chunking, copywork, and dictation. Each lesson is broken into five parts to be done one a day for five days. The student begins each lesson by reading a paragraph. In American Spirit, this paragraph is about people and events from American history. Then the student uses colored pencils (it comes packaged with colored pencils) or highlighters to chunk the story. What this means is the student is looking for particular letter patterns, many of which are irregular in English. They mark these in the paragraph that was read. Then, on days one through three, the student copies a portion of the paragraph and chunks the copywork. On days four and five, the instructor dictates the paragraph to the student, helping more on day four than on day five with things like capitalization, punctuations, and yes, even the spelling. On those days, the final activity for the student is to count the words spelled correctly.
Things We Really Like
Spelling You See has some big things going for it, in my opinion.
- First of all, there is no memorization or tests. None of the stress of trying to learn something for a test, which seldom ends with a stronger memory of what you were memorizing.
- Second, this is designed to be low stress. If you don’t finish all five parts of the lesson in a week, no biggie! Just start a new lesson the next week. The student can ask for help if she wants it or needs it. If something doesn’t look right, the student can erase it and try again or just mark it out and try again next to it.
- Third, this takes less than 15 minutes a day. Part of the directions is to not spend more than 10 minutes on the copywork or dictation parts. Even if this is something the kiddo doesn’t love, it is over pretty quickly for them.
Things We Don’t Like
Nothing. Surprise, I know. The only thing I would change is that the Instructor’s Handbook had an answer or two missing. Seriously – that is all. I have not gotten my giggly girls into a spelling program before this because none of them were what we wanted. This one is. A real life application in which to learn spelling using chunking and visual and muscle memory. Cheerful, bright, and exciting.
E’s comment one day, just out of the blue, with great admiration in her voice was “You are learning to spell and write on this page (right hand page). You are practicing observing and getting a little history lesson on this page (left hand page).” She also said “I like the way that they do it.” That is high praise coming from that giggly girl. I think this one is a keeper!
After having such great success with our oldest giggly girl using this program and seeing what it was all about, we realized that it was also a good fit for our middle giggly girl. We had access to a second copy of the same level, so we started her on American Spirit about 3 weeks after her older sister. It is also working very good for her. We are actually seeing a lot of change in her development since she is two years younger and her spelling was not quite as consistent as her sister’s.
She also has some praise for the program. L, age 7, says “I think the way they do it is great. It helps me learn the chunks and practice my spelling. The stories they do are interesting and it is fun. And also, I get to learn history and spelling and reading at the same time.”
All around, it is a program we are pleased with. We will continue to use Spelling You See. At Home.
Want to connect with Spelling You See? Visit their website at www.SpellingYouSee.com. Follow them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SpellingYouSee or follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/spellingyousee.
Interesting in reading more about one of the other levels of Spelling You See or in reading a different opinion? Click on the Review Crew banner and use the button at the bottom of the post about Spelling You See to find almost 100 other reviewers to choose from.