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School And Homeschool Curriculum Books

Modern Curriculum Spelling Workout 1994
Spelling Workout from Modern Curriculum Press provides proven activities designed to help any child learn to spell.
Modern Curriculum Spelling Workout 2002
Spelling Workout has all the components you need to lead students from simple sound-letter relationships to more complex spelling patterns.

Modern Curriculum Press
Spelling Workout

Program Strengths:
Some of the strengths of the Spelling Workout 2002 program are that students really enjoy the exercises and teachers appreciate the clear and consistent format. At the start of every lesson, there is a short, interesting reading passage that uses some of the list words in context. The lessons also include riddles and puzzles so students can have fun learning. There is a different spelling rule each time, with all the list words reflecting that phonics principle. Another facet that many teachers like is that the list words are given both in regular typeface and in perfect cursive, allowing students copy work to count for their handwriting practice.

The Teacher Edition of Spelling Workout 2002 is a compact, but helpful volume, containing daily answers as well as pretest and final test dictation sentences for each lesson. Every fifth lesson or so, reproducible Review Tests and homework activities are provided so that students can recap and share spelling activities with mom or dad at home (the review tests are great for helping students prepare for standardized tests, since they use a multiple choice fill in the bubble format). The teachers guide is intended to be able to be flexed for either a three or a five day weekly school plan.

The Spelling Workout 2002 Teacher Edition contains cross references linking each spelling rule to the Modern Curriculum Press Plaid Phonics. There is also an appendix at the back of the book that contains a useful chart for student records, comprehensive glossary, and answer key for Review Tests, a page of spelling enrichment suggestions, and more.

Program Weaknesses:
Despite being fun and phonics based, Spelling Workout 2002 does have its weaknesses, but these can usually be overcome. Used exactly as directed, however, many teachers report that it is too easy for bright students, but does little to help struggling students. And whether they do well on the tests or not, students seem to not retain the material well.

The weakness that seems to play the largest part in the above issues is that the unaltered Spelling Workout 2002 de-emphasizes memory work. Lesson exercises do not specifically ask the students to spell the words or repeat the phonics rule from memory. On the contrary, the answers to the exercises (the list of correctly spelled words) are found on each page of the exercises. Only the tests ask the students to spell the words from memory; the phonics and spelling rules are not even tested at all.

The level of phonics in the spelling rules is far from in-depth. This is a weakness when helping students who are struggling spellers, who often benefit from careful and detailed study of phonics. Also, the reading passages and dictation sentences contain some words that are more advanced than the spelling words themselves, sometimes a cause of frustration for pupils.

One recommendation from certain teachers, especially homeschool teachers, is to step things up a notch by moving through the lessons faster, thus completing one and a half to two books in just one year. It is an excellent program they say, though many teachers compensate for the weaknesses by assigning extra activities such as spelling bees, midweek quizzes, and extra copy work for missed words. These teachers often test spelling students on the rules themselves, which they are supposed to be able to explain and point out the use of, if not quote from memory.

Spelling teachers find that by incorporating these memory activities and working with the rules more, bright students experience a more appropriate challenge, and struggling students actually learn and retain the material. This makes Spelling Workout 2002 a success in their classroom.

Spelling teachers handle the advanced words in reading and dictation in various ways. Some use the words as weekly bonus words; some simply edit the higher level words from the dictation, and make sure they read the passage along with their spelling student in order to help with difficult pronunciation.

All that said, the Spelling Workout 2002 receives warm recommendations from many teachers, who say their students loved learning from it.

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