An Australian educator shares a simple method to improve spelling.
This neatly constructed debut work targets educators and parents who want an easy way to teach children to spell. Divided into three logical sections, the book first describes the author’s five-step “S.P.E.L.L.” method of teaching spelling, then discusses the reasons why it works, and finally offers proof via case studies of its triumphs. In Section 1, Harley provides a succinct description of each of the five steps, supplemented with examples and black-and-white photographs that add clarity. This section is a self-contained how-to guide that presents the method in sufficient detail so it can be implemented immediately and without additional assistance. Section 2 is an excellent analysis of the visualization technique behind Harley’s creation, inspired largely by her research into Neurolinguistic Programming, also explained in this segment. Because “S.P.E.L.L.” is multisensory and involves seeing, speaking, hearing, and moving, Harley delves into areas that get a bit technical, such as the manner in which movement increases learning, the balance system controlled by the inner ear, and the regions of the brain. Also included in this part is a discussion of various research studies regarding other techniques for teaching spelling, many of which validate the author’s reliance on visual memory as an integral part of her approach. One of the more useful chapters in Section 2 compares current educational schemes with S.P.E.L.L.; this chapter should be especially interesting to educators who want to see the major differences in practices at a glance. In Section 3, Harley offers numerous and compelling case studies, each carefully documented, that demonstrate the effectiveness of her procedure with both classes and individual students. In one such study of 20 pupils over a period of six terms, a 79 percent success rate was achieved. At the end of the volume, Harley provides a sample chart that can be used to motivate students along with extensive references.
Presents a convincing, clearly written argument for a research-based instructional technique, supported by evidence of success; should be a welcome addition to any elementary school teacher’s arsenal.