Born out of lack of success in having students independently use their class word wall, high frequency word lists, or personal spelling dictionaries to edit their writing my co-teacher @YYteach and I decided to give the Don’t and Do spelling strategy a try.  I am not sure who to credit for the original idea (suffice it to say it that it isn’t me) … but it goes something like this:

Once students are in the editing stage of their writing one of the tasks they are expected to complete before the piece is considered “done” and ready for publication is to do a Don’t and Do T-chart.

Prior to reading their writing the student prepares a T-chart.  I have used sticky notes in the past but now find that a blank piece of paper works best as it is harder to lose 😉

Next the students reads over their writing identifying any words they believe to have misspelled in the Don’t column.  They write the words exactly as they appear in their writing.  Finish reading the piece adding to the Don’t column.

Then the students use a Spelling Flowchart (a pdf copy of which is linked here) to independently try and figure out how to correctly spell the word.  The steps are:

  1. Say it slowly
  2. Check your personal dictionary
  3. Use familiar spelling patterns
  4. Try spelling it 3 different ways
  5. Look around the room for clues
  6. And if they are still stuck that’s ok, just move on.

As they “figure out” what the words are they add this spelling to the Do column.  Since using this strategy we find that students are much more successful in both editing for spelling independently, but perhaps more importantly they are able to transfer this learning to future writing.  As a teacher I am able to use the Don’t/Do T-chart to analyze patterns and identify misconceptions. Give it a try and let me know how it works.  Feedback always appreciated!