I before E, except after C?

Spelling is such a tough piece of the puzzle for developing readers. If your little ones are lacking strong phonological awareness skills, phonics becomes a bigger mountain to climb. I'm sure you know what I mean. As a primary teacher, we get "da" (the) and "chrubl" (trouble). They write what they hear.

So our team shook things up a little this school year. We decided to throw spelling out the window from August to January {2nd grade teachers, please breathe!}. Instead, we did weekly sight word tests to grow confidence, exposure and fluency. Our team adopted a "600 word challenge" last year {but that's a post for another day}. Basically, our little ones have to learn 600 sight words by the end of the year and having weekly goals really helped our little people.

So what happens to those weekly sight word tests come January? I'm glad you asked. We transition into spelling instead. It's about that same time of year where we hit Unit 7 in our SRA Imagine It! reading program. If you're a first grade teacher using this program, you're aware of the "great transition". It's the point in the program where our kiddos go from "learning to read" to full blown comprehension strategies and assessments. This transition also includes spelling words that go along with the weekly phonics skills.

I knew that I HAD to find a way to motivate my newbie spelling testers, since the rate of returned homework is minute at times. I've found through experience {particularly this year} that my class needs competition to light that fire of desire.
I often hear "You're at_____?!?" and it sparks something in the boys my students to push themselves harder. It's twelve kinds of awesome.
A perfect example of competition/motivation would be my tracking system for guided reading levels.

...Or this little tracker for the 600 Word Challenge...

So, I set out on a hunt to change up the predictable Friday spelling test. And here's my final product...

Don't judge. It's not the cutest thing in the world, but it really seems to be working!! 

Basically, if a student gets 100% or higher on their spelling test{because of bonus words}, then they get displayed on our Star Speller board for the week.
Now, let's be honest, time is not in abundance during the school day so I've made this about as "teacher time friendly" and I can. What's the secret?? POST-ITS!! They make these cuties in all kinds of shapes and colors these days!
(My fav? The apples!! Have you seen them?? Adorable.)

But anyway, I'm using these guys as a short cut... and I'll tell you the best part... I don't have to rewrite names every week. My students just pull their name off and stick their post-it on the back of the chart pad or vise versa!


My "Star Spellers" get to write (with GEL PENS!) on brightly colored notebook paper for their next selling test!! Now that's some serious motivation in first grade world. I'm tellin' ya'll, the power of  colored paper and pens!

How do you motivate your spellers??

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