Does Spelling Really Matter? — Part 2 (Better Learning For Schools 30)

If you ever want to have a bit fun, walk up to a group of educators and ask them—does spelling really matter? As I visited with schools over the pspelling_woesast few weeks, I found out that spelling seems to be one of those polarized issues that everyone seems to have an opinion on…and a strong one at that. It’s almost like asking someone to share their views on the upcoming election, gun control or capital punishment.

Not too long ago, I was at a parent teacher conference for one of my own boys. I sat down and noticed that the teacher had a look of concern. After a long, awkward pause she said, “I guess I’m just a bit surprised. I mean…his older brothers were so…smart.”

Now, instead of getting upset, I just sat and listened for a while and asked a few questions. I found out that my son’s grades were excellent, that he got along well with his peers, and that he was in the high group for math and for reading. In fact, the only real concern his teacher had was regarding my son’s spelling.   Which leads me back to my question—does spelling really matter?

This week I had a chance to sit down and visit with Robi Alstrom. She works as a consultant with a number of schools and districts to improve literacy and learning. Robi also possesses a wealth of knowledge on spelling and the brain, and was willing to answer some of my questions on spelling…


Berninger, V. W., & Wolf, B. J. (2009). Teaching students with dyslexia and dysgraphia: Lessons from teaching and science. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Pub. Co.

Dehaene, S. (2010). Reading in the brain: The new science of how we read. New York: Penguin Books.

Ritchey, K. D. (2008). The building blocks of writing: Learning to write letters and spell words. Reading and writing, 21(1-2), 27-47.

Santoro, L. E., Coyne, M. D., & Simmons, D. C. (2006). The reading–spelling connection: Developing and evaluating a beginning spelling intervention for children at risk of reading disability. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 21(2), 122-133

Wolf, M. (2010). Proust and the squid: The story and science of the reading brain. Cambridge: Icon Books.

Curtis Chandler can be contacted at:
Twitter @curtischandler6
Blog:  Better Learning For Schools

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