And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Friday, October 23, 2015

Auditory Spelling Program

I am just in love with Institute for Excellence in Writing. We recently received Phonetic Zoo Spelling Level A [Starter Set] to review. Level A is recommended for grades 3-5 making Speedy a great product tester. Phonetic Zoo is very different from any other spelling curriculum we've ever used. 
 IEW Phonetic Zoo
The starter set came with a listening CD set and MP3 files of the lessons, big Phonetic Zoo Lesson Cards (that work with all 3 levels of the program), small Spelling Zoo Cards, and a downloadable teacher's guide along with a Spelling and the Brain video seminar. It is actually a pretty simple routine. The teacher and student go over the large lesson cards and the student receives a small zoo card for the lesson. Then the student listens to the audio cd for the lesson and a chance to write the lesson words. The disc also gives the words correctly so the student can grade their own work. Once they make two consecutive 100s on a lesson, they can move on to the next lesson. There is no specific time frame for the student to master the lesson so they can move at their own pace. 

I watched the video seminar and familiarized myself with all the materials before we began. Andrew Pudewa suggests they use the program listening through headphones to give them focus and so Speedy has been using headphones. There are some great suggestions for creating a "zoo" space to keep all of their small zoo cards. We did use the large cards regularly before lessons and then Speedy would go and do the lesson on his own. He still struggles with organizing his work on paper so I printed the sheets that were given in the teacher's guide for him to use. This prewritten sheet that was already numbered was a big help for him. The large cards give the spelling rule, jingle, or hint for the lesson along with sample words on the front and the complete word list on the back. These large cards can be used with levels A, B, and C. The small zoo cards tell the name of the lesson with a sample word on the front and give the spelling rule, jingle, or hint on the back. Rather than make a spelling zoo display, Speedy has been keeping his small zoo cards in his desk. He likes the cards because he likes collecting baseball cards and this feels similar. 

The first lesson was a joy for him. He really enjoyed the independence of doing the lesson mostly on his own. It took him a few days to get his two 100s, but he sure was proud when he did. He really got stuck on the second lesson. While there is no given or set number of tries for each lesson, he got frustrated with the number of days it took him to get his two consecutive 100s. He got one and then he missed some words for a few days so it took time to get two in a row. It was a hard lesson dealing with "ie" and "ei". He did finally accomplish the goal and was relieved when he was able to move on. He recently started the third lesson and is working towards the goal on it. 

I like this program and the way it is set up. I know many kids who could benefit from this auditory input focus. Speedy did not do as well with the program as I had hoped he would. After trying this for several weeks, I believe he may be more of a visual learner than I realized. I can relate to that! I struggle to learn and understand information by hearing it. I haven't totally given up on Phonetic Zoo though! I am hoping he will continue to use it even though it is difficult for him because I think there are some big benefits to long term spelling success from this program. It may be one that we have to shelf on occasion and return to later. Because he is at the younger end of the recommended grade level, we may just put it away until next year and try again. While some lessons have been frustrating for him, he hasn't complained one time about doing the daily work. 

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