Traditional Spelling vs. AVKO's Approaches

But first, The AVKO Quick & Simple Questionnaire About Spelling

Yes No  
    1. Do you believe there is a commercial spelling program that does a good job teaching 95% of the students how to spell 95% or better of the words they need to know how to spell?

If yes, go no further.  Go out and buy that system.
If no, how do you rate the following common criticisms of commercial spelling programs.

Circle "a" if not a problem, "b" if not much of a problem, "c" a problem, "d" a real problem, "e" we really have to do something about it.

a b c d e 1. Grading encourages the Learn-for-the-Test-on-Friday-and-Forget-by-Monday Syndrome.
a b c d e 2. Students and parents are more concerned about grades than they are about learning to spell for life.
a b c d e 3. The worksheets and workbooks are busy work rather than learning experiences.
a b c d e 4. Good students are not challenged by the word lists.  They may only have to learn one or two words at most to score 100% correct on the final test.
a b c d e 5. Poor students are frustrated by the word lists.  They may only know one or two of the twenty words assigned.  Even if they learn to spell ten of the words, their grade is failing.
a b c d e 6. There are not enough words on the word lists to properly illustrate the spelling principle being taught.  That is, students are expected to generalize with only a few examples.
a b c d e 6. Students are taught the base words and expected to be able to add the -ed's, the -s & -es endings, the -ing's  according to rules.
a b c d e 7. Students are not taught how to translate their spoken English into proper written English so they frequently write sentences such as: "Were not usta do in what were sposta" instead of We are not used to doing what we are supposed to

With a's being 4.0 and b's 3.0 etc., if  Your Report Card is below a 3.5 Grade Average Compare

The Traditional Approaches to Spelling

AVKO's Approaches

1.  Word lists of 10 to 25 words per week.


1. One "rime" such as "ain" with 21 different "ain" words (rain, brain, train, etc.) every day leading up to as many as 105 different words in one week.
Study by writing each word five or seven or some number of times.


No studying.  Each word is written only once.  But the "rime" within the base word might be written up to 100 times because it is in each of the different words.
Generally just the base word is taught.  Separate lessons on rules for forming endings are taught.  Students may demonstrate cognitive mastery of the rules on tests without being able to apply them in their regular writing. Emphasis is on the structural endings, such as the -s, -ed, -ing, -er, est, -le, ly, -y, -ier, -iest.  Daily usage of the endings leads to the automatic mastery of endings.  The students learn to automatically use endings without necessarily knowing the "rules"
2 Word lists based on curriculum 2. Word lists based on spelling patterns.  
1st grade:  be.............many be bee maybe he she agree three see, etc.
2nd grade: nice.....beautiful ice nice lice slice rice price mice, etc.
3rd grade:  nail......cousin ail nail mail sail rail trail trailer fail, etc.
4th grade: west.....knowledge west best rest vest invest investment, etc.
5th grade: flesh.....ancient flesh, fresh, refresh, refreshments, etc.
6th grade: spoil....partial oil soil spoil broil broiler toil toilet, etc.

3 Word lists based on literature

3 Word lists based on spelling patterns
night ight as in night knight fight right light flight 
before ights as in nights knights fights rights etc.
Christmas ighted as in knighted, lighted, sighted, etc.
house ighting as in lighting, sighting, fighting, etc.
stockings ighter as in lighter, fighter, tighter, etc.
hung ighten as in lighten, frighten, tighten, etc.
chimney ightens as in lightens, frightens, tightens,
care ightened as in lightened, frightened, etc.
mistletoe ightening as in frightening, tightening, 
3. Word Lists Based on "Phonics" such as a "Long E" Week Long Unit.
3. AVKO Word Lists Based on a Few Specific Spelling Patterns Containing the "Long E".




indeed athlete
cheese delete
sweep complete
meal incomplete
stream concrete
cheat mete
disease meat
believe meet
niece sheet
complete sweet
evening feet
gasoline feat
policeman tweet
beast greet
beneath street
conceal eat
creature treat
leaps retreat
flee beat
deceive beet
chimpanzee defeat
4. Word Lists Based on Frequency Word Counts as in 3,000 Instant Words by Saikey and Fry.  Words 1-10...965-975   Note that the word "win" is number 973.

4. Word Lists Based on "Ease" of Learning the "Base" Word as determined in AVKO's The Reading Teacher's List of Over 5,000 Basic Spelling Words Arranged by Order of Difficulty.

1. the Base word of difficulty 1.00 -- in
2. of kin
3. and skin
4. a napkin
5. to grin
6. in bin
7. is fin
8. you chin
9. that gin
10. it sin
965.  led pin
966. march spin
967. northern thin
968. create shin
969. British tin
970. difficult win
971. match twin
972."win" begin
973. doesn't din
5. Traditional whole word approach means visualizing the entire word as a unit, writing it as a unit.

5. AVKO's Research based Word Part Approach using color for word parts while showing the word as a whole.

whole Onset (wh) + rime (ole) = whole 
word Pattern (wor) + consonant =  word,  worm,  worth,  world,  work,  wormy 
approach Pattern (app) +onset (r) + rime (oach) = approach, approve, apply,
missed Onset (m) + rime (iss) + ed = missed
6. Traditional breaking words into syllables using slash marks (/).  6. AVKO's  Whole word but color coding parts approach. 
tra/di/tion/al traditional
mis/un/der/stan/ding misunderstanding
7. Traditional "Rules" approach uses hundreds of rules with thousands of exceptions. 7. AVKO teaches only a few rules, and these have very few exceptions.
The rule "Use i before e except after c" explains words like believe and receive but doesn't explain words such as vein, stein, foreign, science, conscience, and sufficient.   For the Complete ie/ei Rule see Volume 4, p. 442 in The Patterns of English Spelling.
8. Traditional  study test or test-study-test approach. 8. AVKO has NO study and daily testing without grading.
9. Traditional correcting of tests is by teachers, teacher's aides, or by other students with results usually delayed. 9. AVKO believes in immediate student self-correction which research studies confirm is most effective.
10. Traditional approaches have students penalized for making mistakes 10. AVKO helps students discover that mistakes are opportunities to learn.
11. Traditional "Phonics" based approaches teach 11. AVKO's Complete Phonics teaches: 
1. sounds of initial & ending consonants  1. The same
2. sounds of blends 2. The same
3. sounds of vowel and consonant digraphs 3. The same plus the ci, ti, si, ssi, ge, gi digraphs.
4. sounds of short and short vowels 4. The sounds of vowels in context of rimes.
5. the phonics of the one syllable based words such as jump, jumping, jumper, stand, standing, understand, misunderstanding. 5. Also the phonics of the words that have come into English that cannot be reduced to one meaningful syllable, such as crucial, precious, chronic, chateau, etc.
6. the "outlaw" words such as was, does, tough, cough, etc. 6. The same plus hundreds of more sophisticated "outlaws" such as victuals ("vittles") gaol (jail),  lough (loch "lock"), and quay ("kee").  
Many traditional approaches use: AVKO uses:
1. worksheets 1. daily student self-corrected tests.
2. study sheets with copying  2. no study
3. tests for grades based on whole words 3. tests used for grading based not on whole words learned but on concepts learned.

To view a description of Sequential Spelling and download the first eight lessons click here.

To view a description of If it is to be it is up to me to do it and download the first eight lessons click here.

View a description of The Patterns of English Spelling, the only complete reference tool that arranges words by their patterns.

View a description of The Reading Teacher's List of over 5,500 Basic Spelling Words Arranged by Order of Difficulty.

View a description of Speech to Spelling, the dictation of sentences to help students overcome the "hafta's, sposta's, usta's, yorz, thairz, it-ss, and tooze" problems.

Click here to view a description of Individualized Spelling, a series of diagnostic tests that link to pages in The Patterns of English Spelling

Want to help a child know which is right,  "its to bad, it's to bad, it's too bad, or its too bad?  Use The it-ss and the Tooze Made Easy.

When do we use apostrophes to show possession or for contractions?  See descriptions of Apostrophes Made Easy  

And how about what do we do about due/do/dew, new/knew/gnu, threw/through and all those other homophones.  See how AVKO handles The Tricky Words.

For diagnostic tests, screening tests, and loads of practical classroom information about spelling and reading:  The Teaching of Spelling and Reading: a Continuum from Kindergarten through College.  All the chapter titles are listed with links to sample chapters. 

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