Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education

Department

Education, Leadership and Public Service

Program

Reading (BT)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Christi Edge

Second Advisor

Derek Anderson

Third Advisor

Judith Puncochar

Abstract

Educators and researchers disagree about the best way to teach spelling to children. Frustrations from the lack of a spelling program provided by the school led the author to research a new spelling routine focused on choice and differentiation of spelling lists. First-grade students participated in a three-and-a-half-week study focused on the effects of individualized, student-selected spelling lists on student learning and motivation. Students took pre-and post-surveys about their viewpoints of various activities involved in first-grade spelling, which included spelling lists, word-work, spelling tests, and personal feelings about spelling achievement. The researcher held one-on-one discussions with students about spelling and observed students during spelling. Students’ spelling test grades and sentence dictation grades were recorded along with an analysis of specific student word choices in relation to their developmentally appropriate spelling level. Students enjoyed the choice that was intertwined into the study when they selected words for their lists, practiced in the classroom with word-work activities, and practiced at home with spelling homework assignments. Student motivation for word-work and spelling increased during the study. Implications from this study demonstrate student attitudes and reflections of a new spelling program in the classroom. The author argues that choice is an important motivator in a spelling program.

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