Make Spelling Practice Engaging with a Spelling Choice Board


Stuck in a spelling rut? A few years back, I was too. My students were bored with our spelling routine- and quite frankly, so was I. I was spending way too much time hunting down homework assignments, and my class's spelling grades were subpar at best. All that changed when I mixed things up with a spelling choice board!

Spelling the SMART Way

Students love trying new things by engaging their multiple intelligences, aka the "Smarts." All students have unique ways of learning, so why not give them different ways to practice things like a spelling list rather than making everyone do the same three activities every week?


My spelling choice board routine was very simple. Once students received their weekly list, they had to complete one Must Do activity, and then they could choose 3 activities from a variety of choices that celebrated the different multiple intelligences. Activities ranged from using all of the words in a comic strip (for my art smart learners), to creating a word puzzle (for my logic smart pals), to even practicing their words boot camp style (for my energetic body smart friends)! 

With 24 kid-friendly activities to choose from, I started to see much more buy-in from my students when it came to completing their spelling homework. The best part was seeing students try new activities each week, just to get a feel for how they learned best. What an amazing way for students to take ownership of their learning!

That's a lie- the best part was that spelling test scores steadily improved after I started using this choice board with my students. In particular, students were rocking the review words I included each week. Although in the past it seemed like my kiddos forgot how to spell every word on their list the following week, now it seemed like they were retaining the information. This extended beyond the weekly spelling test- I started to notice a big difference in my students' writing as well. When students were given the opportunity to choose activities that were fun and engaging, they were able to take their word study knowledge and apply it to their writing.


Using the Spelling Choice Board as Homework

Let me tell you, using choice boards for homework is one of the best decisions I ever made as a teacher. I only had to set everything up one time and I was good to go for the year! Here are some things I did to help me implement choice boards successfully:

Start by Using the Choice Board Whole Group

As a class, we looked at the choice board and read the activity directions. This way, I was able to see if my students were confused about what they had to do and was able to provide clarification. Then, in class, we practiced 2-3 activities a day until we had done all of them together. Some activities were assigned during center time (such as write a letter to your friend using all of your spelling words) while others we did together (we had fun practicing our words boot camp style).


Set Up Notebooks Together

At the beginning of the year, my students and I set up their spelling notebooks together. We glued the Choice Board, Activity Directions, and a copy of the rubric into the front of their notebook. We also did all of the practice activities in class inside this notebook so students would have a reference. Including students in the set-up process helped them take ownership of their notebook!

Get Parents Involved

Parents want to help their students at home, but sometimes don't know how. The spelling choice board made it easy for them because the activity directions are included- parents simply had to look in their spelling notebooks where each activity was clearly defined. I also sent home a letter to parents letting them know exactly what their child was expected to do each week.


Teach Students How to Use the Rubric

This was a game changer for me. By taking the time to make sure my students used the rubric and actually checked their work before turning it in, I was able to cut my grading time down significantly. 

The secret is using a rubric that is simple and kid-friendly. Students received a copy of the rubric before they turned their work in, read the 5 statements, and made sure they had followed each one. I would grade their work during silent reading time, and if the rubric didn't match their actual work, we would have a quick conference about it. After about a month had passed, students became pretty good about using the rubric independently!


Using the Choice Board as a Center

If you decide to use a Spelling Choice Board in class as a center, many of the above suggestions apply. Again, it is something you set up one time and it will run itself. You will also want to do all of the activities together before students do them independently. Students can keep all of their work in one notebook for you to grade quickly.

One thing I would do if I saw students tend to pick the same activities over and over again was select a few of the more unpopular choices and make them mandatory in the center. I would display task cards with the activities at the center so students would know which ones to work on. This way, students would get a variety of opportunities to try new ways to practice their words.


If you would like to see the Spelling Choice Board I used in my classroom, which includes a spelling list generator, editable choice board options, and an activity slideshow in addition to the elements listed above, please click on the picture below!

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