Ever since I was a little girl, probably in about the second grade I loved taking spelling tests. Why? Because it was something I was always good at. The words came easy to me. The way I felt was all you have to do is just sound it out. It was one of the few things that actually came easy to me in school. I struggled in math, struggled in science, social studies I was good at but it was a bore, and speling tests were my forte. I remember I used to think of it as a game, as if to say it were like the memory game my mom used to play with my sister and I when were were little and we had to guess which card was where. I thought the same way except with the letters, which letters went where in the word.
In my school district we never had a school wide spelling bee, but I remember in the fourth grade we used to have spelling bee’s in the classroom, and whoever the best speller was in your group, then the class, would get to compete in the annual fourth grade spelling bee. Our teacher would split our class up into three groups. At the time I didn’t realize it or pay much attention to it, but looking back on it I realized these three groups would consist of people who had spelling abilities at all levels. There would be some not so good spellers in the group, some ok spellers in the group, and a couple of exceptional spellers (such as myself at the time) in the group. It was better to do it that way because obviously in the fourth grade I didn’t pay attention to what “kinds” of words people got, whether they were hard medium or easy, all I knew is I encouraged my team mates so that we could get extra marbles in our jar at the end of the activity.It was smart of my teacher to have mixed ability groups rather than seperate the groups into hard, medium, and easy so that attention was not drawn to what kind of words people were getting.
Every Thursday we would play this game, until one Thursday my teacher switched it from group spelling bee to class spelling bee. I remember thinking awww man I like group spelling bees because it boosted my ego. In the fourth grade I was very insecure in school, especially when it came to math. I would be afraid to go up to the board in the fear of getting the answer wrong, and I would embarrassingly flip my test over as I saw either a check minus on homework or a bad grade in the upper left hand corner. Oh but spelling was different. I was very confident, calm, cool, and collected as it was my turn to step up in the front of the room to spell my word. My teacher would call my name, my group members would pat my back as I went up to spell my word and I would be ready to take that word down with no hesitation. Everyone in my group would cheer for me and I would cheer for them as well. I remember people arguing and bickering over wanting me in their group when it came to group spelling on Thursdays. When people found out they were in my group they would be very excited and happy, almost like rest assured because we know Jackie has this, she always gets her words right. In other words we want her on our team so we can get more marbles so we can pick a prize at the end of the game. Group spelling was a way for me to build confidence in myself, and give confidence to those in my class as well. I knew how horrible and humiliating it felt to go up to the board and write a math problem in which you have no idea of doing, but you have to go up there and do it anyway. Some people felt that way when it came to group spelling. In my math situation there wasn’t much you could do. People in the class couldn’t stand up and cheer and clap saying “Yeah Jackie! You write that problem out on the board” but for group spelling you could. So when it was time for my team mates to go up I would cheer loud and hard for them and encourage the people who weren’t the best spellers letting them know that they could do it. So I was a little bummed to hear that there would be no more group spelling.
What my teacher then decided to do was make it a class spelling bee where we would be competing against each other. I didn’t like that too much, but once she said whoever wins the class spelling bee will be competing against the other two fourth grade classes with their best class speller I was excited. I was hoping I would be the best class speller, and I was. So I went on to compete in the fourth grade spelling bee. My class and teacher helped me prepare by giving me words in between class, at recess, at lunch, and on the school bus. Basically any time extra time other than class time my teacher and class would feed me words. Everybody rooted for me and cheered. It felt really good. Then one Friday when we would normally take our spelling test, we did the fourth grade spelling bee in the gym. I remember when I walked into the gym I felt like yelling “The Champ is here” but of course I didn’t I was nervous as I went up to spell each word, and somewhere towards the end I was eliminated. I was a little dissapointed but at the same time pretty happy and proud of myself and how far I got.
Spelling up to date: Not as good as it was in fourth grade. Since texting, instant messaging, facebook, using short hand trying to quickly jot down notes in high school, and many other things my spelling abilities have decreased. It’s sad that sometimes I actually have to look in the dictionary, or even worst go to dictionary.com or google to find out how to spell some things. Lately I have been trying to practice writing things out where I can use short hand or abbreviate things. Today it seems like everything is abbreviated. I asked my little cousin a question over Christmas break and he used “idk” to answer me. That did not really sit right with me because I thought about all the other abbreviations people use and how if people continue to use these things they will not know how to spell. write, or talk correctly when they are older. I am not that old, these things have been around since I was in about the third grade and I can only imagine what the generation to come will be like. I believe as teachers and educators it is important to stress the importance of spelling, reading, and writing, but also make it fun and relevant for the children. Don’t make it a tedious task. That is why the entire fourth grade loved the idea of spelling because it was more like a game and less like a chore. I learned more than just how to spell a bunch of words that year and I never realized it until looking back on it now.