As teachers, we are always trying to do everything we can to make sure we are meeting the educational needs of our students as much as possible. Every student is different and sometimes teaching the same material to every student can make it more difficult for each individual student to get practice with what they really need to be focusing on.
If you are allowed some flexibility in this area, individualized spelling lists are so beneficial to your students because it can help them become more efficient spellers.
Here is how you can create individualized spelling lists for each student.
Step 1: Create A List Of 20 Words
The first 10 on your list should be tier 1 words that follow a specific phonics pattern. Tier 1 words are basic words that are used often. These words are not abstract. This includes words like this, that, their, etc.
The next five words should be tier 2 words. These words are high-frequency words but are not used often in the spoken language. These words need to be explicitly taught to all students. This includes words like cite, tend, annoy. I try to keep these words aligned with the phonics lesson I’m teaching for the week. You can check out some tips for teaching phonics for distance learning here! You can also check out these fun digital kindergarten phonics activities you can use to work on short vowels with your students.
The last 5 words should be tier 3 words. These are content specific vocabulary words. Students may only see these words when they are studying a particular subject. Examples of tier 3 words are addend, subtrahend, government. These are considered challenge words and don’t necessarily need to follow the phonics lesson; however, if they do, that’s great!
Step 2: Have A Spelling Pretest
Give your students a pretest on ONLY the first 10 tier 1 words. This will form the basis for your individualized spelling lists.
Students should fold the paper vertically (hot dog style), and number 1 – 10 on the left side. Read aloud the word, use it in a sentence, and then read the word once more.
Step 3: Assign The Individualized Spelling Words
Collect the papers and check each student’s pretest. Highlight any missed word.
If a student missed all 10 words, then those are the 10 words that child will study for the week.
If a student missed 3 words, that student will have those three words PLUS the first seven words from number 11 – 20.
For example, if the student missed word 3, 4, and 7, the student will have 3, 4, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. The student should have a total of 10 words.
If a student got all ten words correct, then the student will have words 11 – 20 for their words for the week.
So that’s it! Using this method, you can make sure that your students are on the same page with their spelling words, but also progressing at their own pace and improving as they go.
This may seem a little complicated at first, but you’ll get the hang of it quickly! This is a simple way to differentiate spelling lists for your students while teaching them ALL the same words for your content area and expanding their vocabulary!
To help you with this, I created these spelling activities for any list of words! This editable resource can be used in person or while distance learning to keep your students engaged and motivated!
You can also get my list of 255 sight words in a digital format for FREE here. This list is divided into 11 word lists and a digital sticker sheet. These are perfect for teaching students sight words in grades kindergarten through second grade.