What do CDs, personal mail, going to the bank, and pay phones have in common? Relics from the pre-internet era that can make you feel oddly old and nostalgic. Add one more to this list: SPELLING TESTS.
Remember when you had weekly spelling tests at school? I had them all the way from grades one to nine, and I’m glad I did. The word lists often focused on a set of rules, and I’ll never forget them. I can still hear my teacher’s voice: ” i before e except after c.” Yes, I know I’m nerdy. Yes, I know now there’s Spellcheck with its instructive curly red lines that catch my terrible typos.
BUT here’s what Spellcheck can’t do:
1- It can’t cover up some of the most basic spelling errors. Bad spellers are sooner or later unmasked, much to their embarrassment.
2- It can’t inculcate the discipline and focus of studying lists of word weekly.
3- It can’t force kids to think about corrections and rules related to their errors.
Here are some common spelling errors Spellcheck will not catch:
should of , compliment vs. complement, affect vs. effect, their/there/they’re, your vs. you’re, it’s vs. its, using apostrophes as plurals, lose vs. loose, wear/where.
I’m itchy just from typing these errors!
I know that weekly tests are out of fashion. The notion is that somehow kids will just pick up spelling through reading and Spellcheck. Maybe, and maybe not. What would be the harm in bringing back a weekly tradition that at best would build better spellers, and at worst would encourage the discipline of regular study and memorization?
As the school year winds down and I take stock of all the great things my kids have learned, I can’t help but feel that something is missing. Bad spelling can make even the most intelligent and well educated people look kind of dumb. Moreover, there’s nothing more grating than a spelling error glaring you in the face. Or is it greating? Definately? Please, please, someone do something about “definately.” Even Spellcheck picks that one up.
What do you think, should weekly spelling tests return?