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Correcting spelling mistakes in schools

(292 Posts)
Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 16:57:44

Please help...I have started an epetition on the governments website.
My local primary school tells me that they don't correct all my children's spelling mistakes because too much red pen is discouraging! Surely it would be better to focus on ENcouraging them to spell correctly...and making them feel proud of their work?
Ofsted are actively promoting this approach even though friends in further education and the business world tell me that they throw away any applications from students with poor spelling.
It seems that in secondary school, spelling errors aren't corrected at all.
Call me old fashioned (!) but copying out a spelling mistake three times at the bottom of the page was how I improved my spelling. Weekly spelling tests seem irrelevant if the children then aren't taught to use the correct spelling in a body of text.

Hope you will help..enough names will mean it's discussed in Parliament. Link below:

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Mon 05-Sep-11 16:59:46

Have signed already, fwiw I agree wholeheartedly with you.

Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 17:07:24

Fantastic ..thanks for that.
Sorry if I'm wrong, but seems to be an attractive option for bad teachers!

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 05-Sep-11 17:13:25

They don't correct them all, no. They tend to concentrate on the spellings that are most basic/important first; if a child can't spell "today", "where" or "girl", for example, then it's more constructive to get him to focus attention on bringing that level of spelling up to scratch than to have him copy out "woodpecker" or "helicopter" three times at the bottom of the page. In contrast, if a child has spelled the rest of the page correctly but has written "woodpecer" or "helikopter" then it will be corrected.

Some children spell every single word in a piece of work incorrectly. Do you really feel that correcting every single word in red pen is going to "ENcourage them to spell correctly" or make them feel proud of their work? That effectively copying out their entire piece of work three times is going to make them feel motivated to write in future?

IrritaGirl Mon 05-Sep-11 17:20:16

I completely agree with OP. Petition has been signed!

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 05-Sep-11 17:24:48

I really disagree with you, sorry - HerdofTinyElephants sums it up really well. Learning to read and write is a very gradual thing - it's not going to come all at once and it certainly isn't going to come as a result of a sheet of red-inked corrections. Do you really think it's going to boost a 6 year old's confidence by writing out a corrected mistake three times? Or that of an 8 year old? And how, exactly, would that help a child with dyslexia?

And spelling errors are corrected in secondary school.

EdithWeston Mon 05-Sep-11 17:29:40

I agree - I have a dyslexic son and it really really helps him to have his spelling corrected consistently and every single time. We can deal with the (sometimes massive) amounts of red, and the feeling of achievement as it slowly but genuinely improves is massive.

If left uncorrected he can neither see the problem nor appreciate that it's something that matters if the teacher doesn't mark it. He's got enough problems without an inconsistent approach to spelling.

EdithWeston Mon 05-Sep-11 17:30:39

X-posts : I agree with OP (not immediately preceding post). It has been immensely helpful to my dyslexic son.

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 05-Sep-11 17:35:22

EdithWeston - my son was borderline dyslexic and that method would have totally put him off ever attempting to write. I know what you mean about repetition being helpful, but ime that was work we'd do at home or outside classwork - NOT having a massive amount of red on every piece of classwork.

jade80 Mon 05-Sep-11 17:36:35

I agree. Signed.

Those saying writing out errors doesn't work are not correct in my view. My school insisted all errors in spelling in written work were written out correctly 5 times. For all grammar errors we wrote the complete sentence 3 times. My spelling and grammar aren't always perfect, but they are good and accurate when it matters.

Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 17:42:17

My children are fairly bright and confident enough to handle lots of red pen, hopefully if a teacher identifies a child who is struggling, then they can Correct their work accordingly, with more sensitivity. Although I do think repetition is MOST helpful for those who don't always pick things up first time round.

I really believe that if they're allowed to spell Eg. helicopter incorrectly over and over, then when they're finally taught the right way...isn't that very confusing/ultimately harder for the small brain?
With so much work done on the computer, with a spellcheck facility, my children don't even know when they've made a spelling mistake.

It's the same as learning tables ...sometimes the only effective way is lots of repetition!
And sorry, there are children I know who haven't had their books marked at all for months in secondary school ...let alone had the spelling corrected.

smee Mon 05-Sep-11 17:43:18

DS's teacher (Yr2) told me that they correct all phonetic mistakes and maybe a couple of others on each piece of work, but that the important thing is to get confidence in writing going. Sounds like your primary is doing similar? If so, I don't see how you can say it's being neglected. Spelling is a key part of assessment too, so very much part of the national curriculum.

Also, you say they're not corrected at all in secondary, which (sorry to be blunt!) is total tosh. Of course it is! I agree it's important, but from what I've seen, I'd say schools do too.

HerdOfTinyElephants Mon 05-Sep-11 17:45:04

My school didn't insist anything of the sort, and my spelling and grammar are also pretty good and accurate <checks post for errors in paranoid fashion>. In fact, I think my spelling used to be pretty much perfect before I had children; bits of my brain seem to have leaked out through my ears since then. I think a child's reading widely, accompanied as necessary by help with problem areas of spelling, is likely to be a better strategy.

Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 17:47:42

..and yes can be very ENcouraging...maybe gold stars for getting the word right next time, or most improved spelling over the kids get to take home the class cuddly toy for most helpful in class...etc
Just think it's another case of dumbing down and falling standards.

mrz Mon 05-Sep-11 17:53:04

What age are you talking about? Secondary, Primary? Nursery?

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 05-Sep-11 17:54:05

Titbits - if you've got bright and confident children, then your proposed method may well work for them! The point is that a lot of children, whether bright or not, are just not that confident. Most teachers would correct say, 'helicopter' on a piece of work by a child in the top set, but not for a child still struggling with phonetics in a lower set. If a year 2 child wants to write "I saw a helicopter fly by" - top set child misses out 't' in helicopter and gets corrected and repeats spelling, but lower set child writes "I sor a hylcota fi by" (and if my ds had written that in Y2 I'd be pretty proud of him) just tell me how repeating the mispellings in that sentence and having circles of red ink is exactly going to encourage him to continue to write?

mrz Mon 05-Sep-11 18:01:41

Actually Grunge it just results in children using "safe" vocabulary in their writing. Why risk whimpered or shrieked or whispered or uttered when you know how to spell said?

Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 18:05:05

But I'm talking about yr4 ...and even though my eldest does well in her weekly spelling tests, when it comes to prose, I believe that not correcting her mistakes is letting her down. She can be easily distracted and I see the red pen and the repetition as the only way to focus her on the problem and move forward with her spelling.
I'm sure she's not unusual in this...
As usual the super bright kids will always achieve and the not so clever get extra help or as is often seen, can fall by the wayside. ....but I believe that the middle bunch need a little push sometimes...and by 8+ I think most can cope with/ need it!
NB her teacher last year agreed with me but had to follow policy!!

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 05-Sep-11 18:07:13

Lol mrz that is just what happened to ds. "Said" was indeed a word he struggled with and that's just what happened in Y1. In Y2 he had a more sympathetic teacher who used more postitive encouragement like rewards/stickers and a lot less red ink, and then he slowly started to turn the corner.

mrz Mon 05-Sep-11 18:18:14

Lots of people will run because it's easier to spell than walk or wandered or sauntered ...
The giant will be big not enormous or even huge ..
Cinderella will have a nice dress not a beautiful one ...

DeWe Mon 05-Sep-11 18:53:22

Depends on your child.

When dd1 went to school the emphasis was entirely on spelling it yourself. So if a child asked how to spell a difficult word not only would they just be told to try it themselves, but they wouldn't be told whether they were right or wrong. As a perfectionist she found that hugely stressful. She would have rather had red pen all over her work and found out how to spell them. Hence she did as people above have said and wrote what she knew she could spell.

Dd2 they changed and will help spelling, and give spellings if difficult words. She's turned into (just this year) an excellent speller, but she likes to be thought right, and couldn't care being actually right. So a lot of red (or corrected, they don't use red) pen puts her off and she then spends her time dreaming and not writing anything.

And if they can persuade ds to pick up a pencil and write anything other than his bf name at school I shall be doing a victory dance round the playground...

diabolo Mon 05-Sep-11 19:12:38

I've just signed. I took my DS out of an apparently "Outstanding" school when he was in Year 2, as his work was full of uncorrected mistakes when we looked at it one Parents Evening. When I asked the teacher why his spelling wasn't being corrected, she told me that "it's not fair to subject a child to stress at that age is it?".

Er - yes. A bit of stress is fine thank you, if it teaches you something useful.

Drippy silly thing she was. Still makes me cross 5 years later!

Titbits Mon 05-Sep-11 19:21:58

So many interesting comments, good to see all sides.
For the sake of unfortunately upsetting / discouraging a few children, I really believe that the rest shouldn't miss out on a proper education...
Or maybe the point should be that the teacher should at least have the choice based on the child's needs.
My child's teacher is telling me that she doesn't even have the choice because of Ofsted rulings...that must be wrong.
Have requested my children's books come home every weekend so I can correct far they have told me that 'it's not necessary'...
Will let you know how I get on.

mrz Mon 05-Sep-11 19:29:33

The teacher has a choice there is no law that says a teacher can't correct every single word or indeed that a teacher has to correct any. It's called professional judgement

IndigoBell Mon 05-Sep-11 19:37:07

I'm honestly shocked you'd want your child to be told that their work was full of mistakes.

Way to go.

Glad you're not my DCs teacher.

They are told something to improve on every single piece of work they do. One or two things to improve. That's exactly the right amount. Who's going to stay ambitious and confident when they are told their work is rubbish.

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