This ain’t spelling as usual (sorry, I couldn’t resist)

Spelling in Room 130 may be different than the “traditional” approach. Rather than students receiving a weekly spelling list for a Friday test, students are tested on 20 randomly-selected words from a Core Word list of 500 words. This list consists of the 500 most frequently spelled words for fourth graders as determined by research. Click here for a copy of the Core Word list. This list is the “spelling list” for the entire year.

How it works

Each week in mini-lessons, students learn spelling concepts about phonics, contractions, compound words, homophones, homographs, and spelling rules. Click here to view a sample spelling unit, including activities and tests. Optional “Exercise Express” worksheets are also available that provide practice in sentence fluency, editing, word sorting, word collecting, and writing skills. Click here to download copies of spelling worksheets.

After each unit, which usually lasts two to three weeks, students take a spelling test and a skill test. The spelling test consists of 20 of the words from the Core Word list. The skill test is related to a spelling skill that was practiced during the unit, such as compound words, phonics, or homophones. For those students that have a track-record of high achievement on spelling tests, sentence dictation tests will be given. Here, students will have to correctly spell and punctuate four dictated sentences, in addition to the regular spelling test. A further challenge would be for students to spell all the words on the spelling test, not just four sentences. Including capitalization and punctuation, this version of the test includes over 100 points of assessment.

After the tests are graded and returned, each student writes the words they spelled incorrectly on a Words to Learn list, and this is the “spelling list” for the following test. As words are continuously recycled each test, students who study the words they missed will spell them correctly on following tests, increasing their scores as the year progresses.

Why not the old way?

The goal of this method is to encourage students to learn the words permanently, not just for the Friday test. Too often in the past, students were able to cram for the Friday test, ace the test, and then not be able to spell the words in the writing the following Monday. By removing the ability for students to cram for the test, students learn the words forever and transfer their knowledge of spelling into their everyday writing.

For more information about this spelling program, visit the Sitton Spelling website.

How can I help my student study?

Some parents wonder if their student has to study the 500 words on the Core Word list. It seems like a lot of words. Parents may choose to pick a few words from the list to study each night. But keep the practice short, with nothing more than a few words being practiced each night. However, it’s not necessary to work through the list. It’s more efficient to use words missed on spelling tests. When students miss words on spelling tests and bring home their Words to Learn list, that is your student’s customized spelling list. It contains words that the student hasn’t mastered. Practicing those words for a few minutes a night will allow your student to be ready for them when they appear again on a future test. See below for more common questions.

Frequently asked questions


This page last updated January 6, 2020 @ 5:25 pm.