How can teachers be trained to use invented spelling to foster student success?
This question was addressed by an action research project aimed at introducing an invented spelling approach during elementary cycle 1 and examining the effects on student learning of spelling and writing. Invented spelling involves the use of contextualized writing situations where teachers encourage students to apply their spelling knowledge and strategies, encouraging them to think and to share their writing hypotheses. The teacher also uses a comparison of the approximate or invented spelling to standard spelling to provide direct instruction of spelling concepts and foster the (co)construction of spelling knowledge.
The research began with the development, testing and evaluation of a supervised training program.
The action research began with the development, testing and evaluation of a supervised training program for elementary cycle 1 teachers on the use of the use of invented spelling in the classroom. The effects of the invented spelling practices implemented by the teachers on their students’ spelling and writing development were then evaluated. Thirty-six teachers and 650 French-speaking Québec elementary cycle 1 students took part in the project, which, to our knowledge, had never before been done in this area.
Our action research showed that the training program, which included a number of training days spread over the school year and two observations with personalized and collective feedback, had a significant positive impact on the way in which teachers use invented spelling with their students in the classroom. The training program developed for the project has been used in schools to create a reference guide for educational consultants from various school boards wishing to offer training on invented spelling and guidance for teachers with implementing new spelling instruction practices.
Annie Charron, Université du Québec à Montréal
Deposit of the research report: August 2016