StarSpell 3 Spelling Guide - Near Correct - Stage 6 of the Spelling Route

This Guide aims to demystify how spelling is learned. It shows smart ways to help learners, both using StarSpell and with activities away from the computer. All the practice in the Guide is based on actual classroom experience

Near Correct - Stage 6 of the Spelling Route

The Spelling Route describes learners in this "almost-there" stage (do we ever reach "there"?) as making some mistakes when writing, but having a wide range of knowledge for their correction. That is, they know when and how to put into practice what they've learned about phonics, and morphemics (and "rules"), and learning spellings by sight. And surely, what the Spelling Route recommends "in order to move on" remains valid over a lifetime:

· Focus on meaning as a guide to spelling.

· Continue to use all the skills from the previous stages, as needed.

However, there are two elements still to be mentioned; one element concerns the Look & Learn constant, the other is to do with curriculum-themed word-lists.

A Look & Learn legacy: the "that looks right" intuition

When the Look & Learn approach is introduced, there's a reference to developing a sense of "what looks wrong", the unease we experience when we sense we've spelled something incorrectly. In fact, that sense is a staging post along the road to having a "That Looks Right" intuition.

So, how is that arrived at? Well, clearly, the sense that a word looks wrong is the starting point, and that of course is fundamental to proof-reading. So, build on that to develop the "That Looks Right" intuition, through the habit of proof-reading, described in Drafting, proof-reading and editing.

The proof-reading habit and the "that looks right" intuition

Look at a procedure for proof-reading. Its first step is the spotting of errors. Continued practice in such self-checking will promote a habitual sense: the hunch that "something is wrong".

The procedure's next step is "Now does that look right?" with writers trying out self-corrections.

Steady and prolonged encouragement of such self-checking and self-correcting leads learners towards their development of a "that looks right" intuition. That is, we want them familiar with a quick on-the-spot trial routine; let's say the "that looks right" intuition is a kind of back-of-an-envelope test. In this, two or three variants on a word's spelling are jotted down, from which selection the correct spelling jumps out. In summary, we should help our learners journey on from "that looks wrong", through "does this or that look right?" to arrive at the sense "that looks right".

Dictionary, spell-checker and thesaurus skills: activities

Inevitably, there are times when the "that looks right" intuition isn't enough. Spellers need to be familiar with the help (and the pitfalls) provided by the dictionary, spell-checker and thesaurus. There is a useful tip.

Curriculum-themed word-lists

Focussing on meaning as a guide to spelling is a key characteristic of this late stage in the spelling journey.

StarSpell Lists: Curriculum subject lists and Yr2 to KS3 Support: KS3 subject lists offer opportunity after opportunity to focus on meaning. This is unsurprising, when we recognise that "the curriculum" ranges over a wide range of human activity.

So, to pluck a few examples from StarSpell lists:

· There are samples of words from other languages (e.g. savannah, tundra and steppe)

· Two-pronged approaches to some words, (e.g. hygiene presented as a word based on a mythical character and as a food-technology term)

· Prefixes appearing in different contexts (e.g. chlorophyll , chloroplast)

· Words presented with useful definitions in their context sentences (e.g. quantitative, qualitative).

Therefore, as those random samples suggest, the curriculum lists support not only spelling, but also vocabulary extension and revision.


Use StarSpell Lists: Curriculum subject lists. Once you've selected the appropriate list, StarSpell's modes offer varied opportunities to rehearse these words. We present ideas for interactive whiteboard sessions, with Session 23 and Session 29 dealing specifically with curriculum vocabulary.