G-U-A-R, just like in GUARD…

I used to give spelling tests all day. Every Friday, I’d give five spelling tests to five groups of thirty eighth graders. Then we would grade them in class, after I passed out red pens to everyone. My system was to randomly draw 20 words from a bucket of 100 – the same 100 all year – so we had many repeated words. Let’s just say I got really good at spelling “definitely”, which had always given me trouble.

Now, I give two spelling tests on Fridays. One to Leah, in fourth grade, which is pretty straight-forward. I give the words, she writes them down & then checks her paper. She’s a girl (generally better at language), and a big reader, so she usually does very well.

The other test is for Ben, in second grade. Words are not quite so fun for him. He is a good reader, but it hasn’t quite translated to being a good speller. ┬áHere is how his spelling tests go:

Me: Breeze. The breeze blew my hair around. Breeze.

Ben: (scribbles something)

Me: Um, not quite. You have a letter wrong.

Ben: (erases a letter)

Me: No, not THAT letter!

Ben: (grimaces and rewrites the letter, starts erasing another letter)

Me: Ben, you had this word a couple weeks ago, and we just spelled it yesterday with Bananagrams. Remember?

Ben: Yes, I remember! But I don’t remember how we spelled it!

Me: Breezzzze. Breezzzzze.

Ben: Oh yeah! (writes it correctly)

On to the next word. Repeat a similar conversation, but this time maybe he’ll say instead, “Just go on to the next one!”, knowing he’ll have to rewrite his misspelled words three times each.

These spelling tests for a second grader are MUCH more gut-wrenching for me than when I was a “real” teacher. The objectivity of standing in front of the class obviously saved my sanity.

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What word do you continue to misspell? I canNOT spell “guarantee” without looking it up.

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