How do you spell….?

I have heard it in Grades 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1; I have even asked the question myself, “How do you spell….?” From day one in the classroom, whether they are asking their teachers or their neighbors, students develop the need to ask this very question. As teachers, what can we do to help students learn to spell correctly? One tool I have implemented in my classroom is the “Have A Go” pad. This is a strategy I gained from a PD session by Advance Teacher Training with Margaret Menner.

While students are writing independently they have this simple notepad out to assist in their spelling. The Have A Go pad encourages students to use their inventive spelling, predictions, and prior knowledge of letter and sound patterns to try and spell words correctly. After the second column they can ask for help or go to a dictionary or online dictionary for help.

These individual Have A Go pads are also great forms of formative assessment and self assessment. By examining a student’s Have A Go pad, I can instantly see their individual spelling needs and how I can differentiate for them in terms of spelling activities. The students can also monitor their own spelling progress.

We also keep a class Have A Go pad in the classroom during group writing, math, or any activities. The students enjoy helping each other and checking each other!


At first only a few students were using their pads, but as the year went on and I continued to listen to my student’s conversations, I found more students were using the tool (or idea) than I thought. Students also found that they knew how to spell more words than they thought. Below is a tweet highlighting the peer learning environment the Have A Go pad encouraged in my classroom.

A simple tool that may not help every student, but has proven beneficial in my classroom.
Have A Go and see what it can do for your students!

What other strategies do you use regarding spelling in the classroom?



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8 Responses to How do you spell….?

  1. Melissa says:

    Love this idea! I remember trying so many ways to answer this question (or keep from having to answer this question). I remember keeping charts of the words students asked me to spell. I remember having each students keep their own notebooks of words they found that at liked and words they needed spelled for them. I remember using library pockets on a poster board with index cards. Students would bring me a card based on the letter they thought the word started with. I would write the word on the card and then it would go back to the poster. We come up with so many ideas, but I think I like this one the most.
    I really want to find someone to tell the idea in this blog ….
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. sharyn says:

    Thank you for sharing so many other ideas! I think spelling is something that has been and will always remain a topic of interest in primary school. Teachers are always thinking of new and creative ways to help students with spelling. I have also been a part of several discussions as to the value of the traditional spelling lists and whether they still have a place in today’s classrooms.

  3. Corinne says:

    Hey Sharyn,
    With my young kids the only color they can really spell without difficulty is red….. I always get, ‘ How to you spell green, brown,etc?’ I was tired of saying, ‘ sound it out or is it has a long e sound or starts with a blend..etc. So one day I drew 3 circles on a board/poster and put the beginning consonants/blends in the first circle the vowels in the second circle and ending consonant/ the last circle. I mixed up all the consonants/blends/ vowels for the sounds in the beginning, middle and end of words. Now the children just go to the ‘spell a color board’ and look for the sounds in the circles and are able to figure out the beginning/middle and ending spelling of a word without my help. The board is a visual aid and it also helps them decode the word and blend it back together so they write it without problems.

    • Loren says:

      Dag nabbit good stuff you whnrpersiappeps!

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  4. Ho Lun says:

    I am going to try this one in class this year too!

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