Spelling Mastery is a six level series program that interweaves three spelling strategies according to students’ skill development—phonemic for beginning spellers, then morphographic for advanced spellers and learning to spell multisyllabic words. At all levels an intensive whole-word approach is used to teach common words that cannot be taught with phonemic or morphographic strategies.
Spelling Mastery uses specific strategies that encourage pupils to think their way through spelling rather than to memorise weekly spelling lists. These strategies combined with repeated practice and application, enable students to spell unfamiliar words and to remember familiar words more successfully than they would by using other methods.
The focus of spelling mastery is to teach spelling to a mastery level. The purpose of each exercise is to teacher the spelling skills and to provide the amount and type of practice necessary to achieve mastery. Everything in the program is reviewed cumulatively to ensure long term retention and transfer to writing.
The children are taught the term morphograph. A morphograph is the smallest part of a word that has meaning. For example, water is made of two syllables but only one morphograph. A morphograph allows children to focus on the bases and affixes of words.
re – prefix and first morphograph
cover – base and second morphograph
ed – suffix and third morphograph.
The children would be taught that re means again and ed means an action in the past so therefore, recovered means to cover again and it happened in the past.
In Millbrook, the children complete a spelling age and placement test. The placement test determines the Spelling Mastery level for each child, so the children are grouped together throughout the school, from year 1 – year 6. The spelling ages of the children are then closely monitored and the children complete the spelling age test in December, March and July of every school year.
Each small group, completes a spelling mastery session every day for 20 minutes. The sessions are teacher directed with full participation from the children, who also complete tasks in a workbook. The children have a spelling test every 5 sessions based upon the words or spellings they have focused on in the previous sessions.
Each level, from A – F, focuses different spelling rules for the children to learn and progressively challenge the children. Here is curriculum map for spelling mastery to show the progression through the levels.