From the archives...
A customer wrote us to ask:
Sorry if this is already on here somewhere (I didn't see it at first glance), but in the spelling words, it now asks my son to write his words separated into syllables (we are in book D and maybe it asked us to do it that way in C also, but I wasn't really aware - oops!). Is there a reason for this other than to reinforce that a word is multi syllable? He is struggling with doing it that way because he is a rule follower and doesn't like to pick up his pencil and put a space in a word when he knows 1) that isn't how to write the word correctly and 2) he's not supposed to lift his pencil until the end of the word. I haven't been forcing it because it seems to work for him as long as he tells me the number of syllables, then we sound out the word together, he spells it to me verbally, then writes it down as one word. I am a firm believer in doing what works BUT I want to make sure I'm not messing something up later on in the lessons by not forcing the way the Spelling Analysis Card tells us to do it.
Yes, there is a reason! The purpose of Spelling Analysis is to strengthen reading and spelling fluency by supporting students as they apply the phonograms and spelling rules in specific words and analyze why those words are spelled the way they are. Since many of the spelling rules depend on placement within a syllable, it is crucial that students have a strong, immediate, and clear indication of where each syllable ends. This can be done two ways: by writing each syllable in a different color or by leaving a space between the two. (We do NOT, however, recommend circling or drawing lines between syllables, since adding extra lines within the words can be quite confusing visually for students still developing as readers.)
We've generally found that students can understand the idea that this is something we do only while learning a word in spelling analysis. You also don't write breves and macrons or underline multi-letter phonograms in regular writing; this is a special process where we take the word apart to analyze it. That is the right way to write it for spelling analysis
I do have one suggestion, though: I'd encourage you to stop having him spelling the word verbally in between you cuing it and him writing it. You do not actually want him to say the letters at all; you want him to segment the word (only segment it with him when he needs that extra support; have him do it himself as soon as he is able), watch you finger spell and hear you cue as he segments it (to let him know which phonogram to use when there is a sound with more than one option), and then write it while sounding it out. Adding the step of reciting the letter names in between does not help with spelling and can actually add an extra obstacle to what he is trying to develop, which is a deep and automatic connection between the sound and the written phonogram.