Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spelling You See - Level D: Americana (TOS Review)

Spelling You See Review

When I heard that Math-U-See had a new sister company called Spelling You See, you can bet that I was all ears. We are huge fans of Math-U-See and since spelling is an issue in this house I knew that Spelling You See was something that I needed to check out. I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Level D: Americana.

Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See was developed by Dr. Karen Holinga, a former elementary school teacher, college professor, and reading specialist. Rather than using spelling word lists and tests the student does a daily activity that has a student integrate listening, reading, speaking, and writing. Spelling You See will guide your child through the natural stages of how we learn to spell.
Spelling You See Review
Chantry has been using Level D: Americana, which is recommended for students who are 8 years old and established readers. Americana has short, daily lessons. The readings and dictation are short non-fiction stories about American history and culture. These lessons are based around three core activities--copywork, chunking, and dictation.


Chunking is finding and marking all the designated letter patterns in the passage. In Americana students learn to chunk vowel chunks, consonant chunks, Bossy R chunks, Tricky Y Guy, endings, and silent letters.

This is how a weekly lesson is broke down:
  1. The parent reads the story followed by the student and parent reading the passage together.
  2. The student chunks the letter patterns with colored pencils or highlighters.
  3. After that for days 1-3 the student copies the passage. Set the timer for 10 minutes and when it goes off they are finished for the day.
  4. On the fourth day the parent dictates the passage for only 10 minutes. On this day the parent provides punctuation, capitalization, and helps with hard words.
  5. Day 5 finds the students writing out the dictation, again for only 10 minutes. The parent can help with punctuation and capitalization, but should encourage the student to try to spell the difficult words.
The Instructor's Handbook includes a detailed description of the philosophy of the program. Explicit directions are given for Lessons 1-14, while Lessons 15-36 along with Book 2 are review of all the letter patterns that are taught. All the dictation passages are included along with answer keys.

Chantry had been using a spelling program along with doing dictation. When we started using Spelling You See he immediately renamed it "Spictation." One thing I found out that this is a very easy program to implement, so easy in fact it is easy to let your child do Day 1-3 by himself and only worry about dictation. Don't do it!!

When we were a couple of weeks into the program I noticed that doing the dictation was like pulling hen's teeth. I went back and re-read how the program works. I immediately realized my mistake. In his desire to get his work finished he had been reading the passage by himself. The next week I made sure that I read the passage and then we both read it together. When it came time to do dictation I saw an immediate improvement. In our last lesson he was able to write out several lines of his dictation without having it read to him.

This program makes a lot of sense to me. All of my children have resisted learning phonics and have struggled with spelling. After trying a few phonics based spelling programs with no success, I finally have settled on a spelling program along with dictation. When spelling a word that trips them up I have tried to show them tips and tricks to remember how to spell them. Sometimes I was successful and many times not. Spelling You See has changed that. I now remind my son to recall how he chunked the word. When a word has been chunked with a color which stands for a certain kinds of chunked letters, it is much easier to recall.

I am a big proponent of Charlotte Mason and I think this really lines up with many of her methods by utilizing copywork, visualizing, dictation, and my favorite--short lessons.

I think I can truly say we have found a new spelling program. I asked Chantry if he wanted to go back to his spelling and dictation books and he replied, "No way, I want Spictation!" Yes, I think I heard angels sing.

Level D: Americana is available in:
Student Pack -  $30.00 (Includes 2 student workbooks and a pack of erasable colored pencils)
Instructor's Handbook - $14.00

Also check out the other levels that Spelling You See offers.
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