Understanding Spelling  book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Spelling

ISBN 9780415419888
Published June 18, 2007 by Routledge
128 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

How do children learn to spell and what kinds of teaching support them most effectively?

Based on a three-year longitudinal study of children's spelling in different primary classrooms, Olivia O'Sullivan, Assistant Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and Anne Thomas, the former Inset Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, pose a number of important questions:

  • what kinds of knowledge are involved in spelling?
  • what are the links between learning to read and learning to spell?
  • what kinds of systematic teaching and interventions make a difference to children's progress?

Packed with case studies, photographs and examples of children’s work, this unique book sets out the most effective approaches to spelling and provides teachers with a broad set of principles on which to base their teaching. This is an invaluable resource for any teacher or trainee teacher wishing to raise standards in spelling in their classroom.


Table of Contents

1. Learning and Teaching Spelling  2. Understanding Spelling  3. Learning to Spell: Stages of Development or Multiple Sources of Knowledge?  4. The Case Studies  Part 1: Children Who Made Good Progress as Spellers  Part 2: Children in Key Stage 2 with Spelling Difficulties  5. The Effective Teaching of Spelling  6. Monitoring Spelling  7. General Conclusions and Recommendations


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Olivia O'Sullivan is currently Assistant Director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. She has many years experience working in literacy and of designing and delivering courses. Her work includes the following:

Designed and delivered a series of courses for teachers for the BBC Media Centre and has developed courses on using web publishing and digital video in the classroom.

Worked on a funded project at CLPE which looked at ways of raising the achievement of boys, particularly in the area of writing. This has culminated in a book, Boys on the Margin (CLPE, 2004)

Tutored for 10 years CLPE Raising Literacy Standards course which was highly evaluated by Ofsted/HMI.

Worked in New York City for five years (1991-96) on a bi-annual project in New York public schools. The work involved designing and delivering a rolling programme of in-service training for cohorts of teachers, school principals and staff development teams.

Acted as a consultant to Dorling Kindersley Education on two dictionaries for children.

A regular contributor to CLPE Publications and a regular reviewer of publications for the Times Educational Supplement


'[This book] should be part of every school’s library and a course book for every postgraduate course…It is a splendid, sound and helpful book which has a thoughtful but practical approach.' - Dr Eve Bearne, University of Cambridge Faculty of Education, UK

'An essential buy for many trainee teachers. For schools, [this book] would assist the literacy coordinator in advising staff to help others teach spelling more effectively.' - Teresa Grainger, Canterbury Christ Church University College, UK

'As such this book provides rich and complex understandings of spelling to help all those involved in children's language development deepen their practice to good purpose.' - NATE