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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