Spalding Reading & Writing

The Spalding Method is a total language arts approach because it provides explicit, sequential, multi sensory instruction in spelling (including phonics and handwriting), writing, and listening/reading comprehension. Spalding is also a diagnostic method. That means assessment for learning is continuous so that instruction can be tailored to meet each child’s individual needs. Spalding is not a lock-step one-size-fits-all approach.

The Spalding program begins by teaching students a set of phoneme-letter units called phonograms. These letters represent minimal speech units (phonemes), not blends. Learning the phonograms is a straightforward paired-associates learning task that helps students to form links between particular phonemes, particular letters, and particular motor (writing) movements. When students master the phonograms, they can access members of this set easily and flexibly, and can output them in written or spoken form.

After the phonograms have been learned, instruction in spelling begins. Spalding uses a list of words compiled by frequency. The spelling lesson “script” is exact. The teacher says a word and calls on the students to say the first syllable, or first sound of a one-syllable word. The children write it, then the teacher writes it on the board. The students progress systematically through the word. If there is any difficulty, the class discusses the rule involved. Over the course of spelling, the students learn by example twenty-nine second order rules, such as the five reasons why a silent e is attached to the end of a word. Given the seventy phonograms and twenty-nine rules, students can spell about 80 percent of English words, and a higher percentage of the most frequent ones.

spalding book

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