Signing Helps Struggling Spellers

Spelling is a subject that is either exceptionally easy for some students or exceptionally hard for others. Students are taught to practice their spelling words by saying them out loud repetitively, writing them, or any other ways we think would be useful to help our students learn the words. Even with continued practice, studying, and repetition, we will always have students who are struggling spellers. With a visual and kinesthetic approach through American Sign Language signs and the American Sign Language Manual Alphabet, these students can find it easier to remember their spelling words.

In the booklet Signing for Reading Success by Jan C. Hafer and Robert M Wilson, there is a study presented in which seven first grade students had a spelling accuracy of only 25% and 46%. During the study, students were taught spelling words, the sign for each of those words, and how to finger spell each word using the ASL Manual Alphabet. By the end of the study, the students showed improvement in their ability to spell the words, spelling between 56% and 90% of their words correctly. The children also were able to retain spelling words and spell between 60% and 90% of the words correctly. The study proved that students can be transformed from struggling spellers to successful spellers by incorporating American Sign Language into their lessons.

It is easy to incorporate praxisschilder signs into your curriculum. Simply learn the signs for the spelling words you want to teach your students in an American Sign Language Dictionary or an online dictionary that provides a video demonstration of how to do that sign. Present your class with both the written word and the sign. Say it while you sign it and ask the students to repeat the word and sign it with you a few times. Next, teach them the finger spelling of each word as well.   Every time you discuss, practice or read these spelling words, be sure to have your students read and sign the word with you. This can also be interactive for students because they can practice their words and signs with one another. You can also create activities such as a silent spelling bee for your students to practice. In addition, you can encourage parents to help their children study at home by signing and finger spelling the words.

Since many signs are iconic, meaning they look like the actual object, ASL signs and the Manual Alphabet will help present the words visually to your students. Since it is hands-on, it also uses a kinesthetic approach to represent each word. Because it is fun and interactive, your students will be more eager and motivated to learn their spelling words, which will lead to more success and confidence in their skills. After introducing signs into your spelling lessons, you just may find that many of your struggling spellers progress to successful spellers in a short amount of time.

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