Friday, December 11, 2009

TOS Crew Review: All About Spelling

I wasn't so sure what All About Spelling would be like when I was asked to review it for the TOS Crew. In general, I am not a grammar/spelling "program" type person and I try to keep things consistent and casual with this area. However, as I get to know R9 more and more as a student, I can see she is the quintessential creative type who a terrible speller! She's also very kinesthetic and auditory but not so much a visual type learner. If you've never experienced someone who is the opposite of your learning type, you really must see what that's like. I'm a very visual person and when I look at a piece of R9's writing in the raw form it is enough to make my visual mind crazy! Literally! (just look at my blog template and you can see how it would be pleasing to a visual person- I keep the standard rounders Blogger template because it keeps very clearly defined columns- not a chance for confusing the columns!)

What's my point? Well, that admittedly R9 could use more purposeful help with her spelling and that All About Spelling seems to be a great fit so far. All About Spelling uses a multi-modal approach to teaching spelling. Multi-modal. I don't think I've actually used that word since graduate school! The idea is that All About Spelling appeals to all kinds of learners because you get to use many approaches to spelling.

I was given levels 1 and 2 as well as the Starter Kit which contains the letter tiles, magnet squares, phonogram CD, and tokens to review.

I'm using Level 1 with R9 which is going really fast because she is in 4th grade. It is a phonics based program that uses a multi-sensory approach. For example, she has to break words down into segments and move a token with her dominate hand at the same time. She does flash cards of the different sounds a letter can make- this I found really helpful because it covers more than just the obvious sounds as a reading program would. So, /s/ makes a ssss sound and a zzzz sound (as in was). This is crucial for a poor speller! It helps to identify that sometimes a letter will make a sound you weren't thinking about automatically.

Some other things to note regarding All About Spelling:
  • taught in a logical order and each lesson builds upon the previous one. The sequence of the concepts has been tested for long-term results.
  • nothing is left out. All the tips and helps for spelling are included in the program.
  • the program is mastery based not grade level based so when a student masters a concept they move to the next one. The review is built in to each lesson and it's easy to keep track of what is mastered and what is not as you go along.
  • concepts are taught in a clear manner
  • scripted- the program is completely scripted so you don't have to guess at what to say or prepare lessons. It's all done for you.
  • They have a one year learning guarantee.

Each lesson involves moving tiles and saying sounds. This is the set up for the first lessons in the level 1 book. Vowels are identified in red. The author recommends a good sized magnet board where you can leave the tiles. For now we are using our 4' x 8' magnet wall for the job.

  • Starter Kit $26.95
  • Level 1 $29.95 ( all levels come with teacher's manual and student materials packet)
  • Level 2 $39.95
  • Level 3 $39.95
  • Level 4 $39.95
  • Level 5 $39.95
  • Level 6 (coming spring 2010)
In general, All About Spelling is a great program for teaching beginning spellers and those who need extra help in spelling- those students who are the antithesis of the natural speller! In my experience so far with the TOS Crew, I have found very few products that I would continue to use or seek out to purchase. All About Spelling is one I will continue with and if I find it is successful for R9, then I will absolutely purchase the rest of the levels as we need them. I will begin level 1 with I7 as soon as R9 begins level 2. I wholeheartedly recommend it if you have a new speller or a struggling speller.


Shonda said...

Awesome! Just got mine in the mail last week. My P-10 needs lots and lots of help. He has speech issues which really compound spelling woes. If you can't say the sound you certainly can't spell it!

Heather said...

LOL! Shonda- I have a speech kid too or rather a former speech kid. Is yours a leftie? Leftie boys are notorious for their speech issues.

I7 is up next as soon as R9 finishes the first level. Let me know how it works for you.

Shonda said...

Well, we are on the small schedule because as soom as P9 is going on it, M7 will start. He is not a leftie surprisingly. None of the kids are, but my dh is. P9 has apraxia. It's a bugger!

Shonda said...

Good grief, that should say same schedule not small. I swear that morphine has scared me for life!

Heather said...

I7 was diagnosed with Apraxia!! Oh my...he still has some articulation issues, but overall he has done really well and the scary thought that it would affect his reading doesn't seem to be awful. It delayed his big explosion on to the reading scene, but not too much.

This is a kid who had no speech but for some sounds a 9mos old makes and not even then all of those sounds at 27 mos. He spoke only in sign language for 8 mos or more before saying his first word.

All his vowel sounds were neutral. We had to do face massages with him. Should have seen it coming. He could not nurse well AND he had to have a special bottle nipple just to eat when he was an infant.

His oral motor issues were profound. Even when he ate he could not manage soft things with crunchy things. He couldn't handle more than one texture at a time.

We worked intensely with him for a few years and it really helped- along with much prayer I'm sure.

He was dismissed from services when he was 3, but like I said I do keep tabs on the artic stuff. He may need some help yet.

Hmmm...all this buried in a comment. Perhaps I should post on the speech issues we've had.

Shonda said...

I should just e-mail you, but this works!!
Ugh, the vowel sounds!! We are struggling mightily with those in spelling. Like you said, his were all neutral, too. He didn't start speech until 3 years old (!! I know!!) and he just finished this year at age 10. Hard, hard stuff. Crazy we have that in common! :)Btw, (changing subject) woke up this morning with my incision bleeding a little bit. Wah! Have a call in to the doc.... I promise I didn't over do!