Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check

This is the final module in this eBook and is designed to be the testing module that enables you to assess exactly what has been learned as you have worked through the program. However, given what has been discussed in previous modules in regards thinking outside the box and tailoring spelling plans to suit the requirements and specifications of your individual students, the tests here are absolutely nothing like those you usually use to assess spelling ability. There is a very good reason for this: “Lists, especially standardized lists, are an ineffective way to study spelling and are a waste of time.” (Suarez & Suarez, 2006, p. 235).

Suarez and Suarez are completely correct in their assessment of the standard testing process in place. Children are encouraged to learn lists of words before promptly forgetting them after the test is completed (Harris & Turkington, 2000, p. 41). This does absolutely nothing for their confidence or their ability and can lead to problems a little later in their academic careers. Despite that though, tests and assessments are essential if you are to gage an individual child’s ability to spell. You need to know where they are struggling, what areas require a little more work and whether or not the individual child needs a higher or lower level of teaching to continue to make progress and improve:

Justification for testing lies in what you do with the results. If the test was diagnostic and helped to clarify areas of strength and weakness in the pupil, enabling you to plan a more effective teaching programme, then the time and cost are surely well spent, but if the test was purely to measure one child against another then its value is open to question. (Wearmouth, Soler & Reid, 2002, p. 347)

As such, it is essential that you seek an alternative testing method and this is what this module offers. The Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check method is advocated here based on solid academic research and the incredible results that it produces. Commonly used in schools, it is a fantastically simple exercise for those people who can memorise the way a word looks and sounds before spelling it out. The several steps are easy to follow and use but each one is vital in establishing where an individual child is in his or her education.

The technique does have its critics:

The critics suggest that it relies too much on rote memorisation of letter sequences without at the same time, encouraging a speller to attend to phonic cues within the word. Cooke (1997) says that LCWC does not make full use of the alphabetic nature of the English writing system, not the role of phonology in spelling both regular and irregular words. (Westwood, 2008, p. 80)

As a result, it might not be suitable for use in relation to classroom exercises, but it is an effective way of ensuring that children learn their designated words without forgetting them as they would if they were asked to learn standardised lists rather than personalised lists for testing purposes.

Your Lesson Plan

Before you look at the lesson plan, please note that it is necessary to introduce children to the method before testing takes place or else you may get false results. If a child is not used to a specific method of testing then it can lead to confusion and wrong answers that would normally be correct had an introduction been made before. As such, this module should be taught over at least two lessons, with the first being an exercise lesson and the second being a testing lesson.

Content – Lesson One – Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check introduction and exercises. Lesson Two – Recap and assessment

Goals & Objectives – To obtain an insight into what you student has learned throughout the previous five models with a view to determining where any weaknesses lie and whether or not any modules need to be taught again.

Materials & Resources – Spelling lists (those compiled in module #1)

Introduction – Introduce the technique, demonstrating how it is used and how it will be used in an assessment situation.

Development – After demonstration, provide students with a standardised list of words that is on or above their current learning level so they can master the technique themselves. The standardised list is not to be assessed in any way but instead is designed to get them used to the method. After they have learned how to use it effectively, introduce the exercises to reinforce this teaching.

Practice – Choose any one or two exercises from those outlined in the next section to help students to practice the skills that should be taught in this particular module. ALL EXERCISES ARE DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR THE EXERCISE/PRACTICE SESSION AND NOT FOR A TESTING SESSION. As such, please see the worksheets section for testing sheets.

Notes – This is the final module in this eBook because it should be used to reinforce the skills and knowledge learned by your students in all of the previous modules. In addition, you can use it to move your students away from considering computer aided learning to be a given instead of a privilege. Furthermore, if you have several students, do not use a grading curve because that undermines the point of teaching individuals how to spell. It is an essential skill and so testing should only be used to determine progress.

Selected Exercises

Prior to undertaking any practice exercises, you must first introduce your students to the method, which is as follows:

  • Look at the word in context
  • Say the word silently
  • Think of the meaning
  • Try to see the word in your mind’s eye
  • Cover it over, still trying to see the word
  • Write the word
  • Check against the correct version.

This technique should be practiced in the first instance with a standardised list of words for the appropriate age group rather than the non-standardised list of words that was compiled in the first module of this eBook. The latter list will ultimately be used for the assessment so using them during the demonstration would be counterproductive. The development stage is particularly important though so do not skip it.

The very nature of the Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check technique means that it is actually an exercise in its own right. As Jackman states, “Whilst the use of mnemonic trickery cannot seriously of itself underpin a spelling programme, in its place it can have useful, if limited, applications especially with those one off problem words (remembering the cess pit in the middle means you’ll never again misspell ‘necessary’!)” (2002, p. 17). This highlights just how useful it can be. However, doing the same thing over and over and again can be incredibly repetitive. As such, when you are teaching it ready for the assessment then you absolutely should seek to spice it up a little. The exercises below will give you some excellent ideas as to how to do just that in the classroom.

After the development stage of the first lesson is complete, move onto at least two of the exercises below:

  • Play Visual Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check – Create a list for use but break it down into three columns (as per the worksheet at the end of this module). The middle column should be used for the child to draw a visual cue. As such, the Cover element will also require your student to draw something to help him or her remember the spelling of the word.
  • Create Rhymes to Remember Words – Choose words that are to be covered and give your student sixty seconds to come up with a rhyme for each one. These rhymes act as memorable cues (Jones & Charlton, 1996, p. 230) so your students will be able to remember them. A good example is the following rhyme to remember NECESSARY – Nobody Eats Cereal Every Sunday Sausages Are Really Yummy. Give your student this example and then encourage their creativity.
  • Play Spelling Bee – Write the words for learning in this manner on flash cards and place them into a hat. Allocate each student ten seconds to memorise the word before the flash card has to be placed face down on the table and the student has to spell it from memory on a white board or wall chart. A point is awarded for every correct letter with a bonus point being awarded for each correct word. The student with the best score at the end of the game should be awarded a prize. If you are working with one student then a prize should be awarded for bettering a previous score.
  • Create Wall Charts for Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check – Wall charts are ideal for this particular module because the bigger letters help to imprint on the memory. Encourage your student to get creative with colours and patterns to make words particularly memorable and then place them on the wall so they make an impact subconsciously as well.

Look, Think, Cover, Write, Check is a simple exercise by its very nature so remember to keep the exercises you use to reinforce the method simple too. Be creative but make sure that you are able to keep it in hand. The premise of the technique should always remain the same or else the exercises will not help your student to prepare for the assessment in the second lesson.

Also, the words used in these exercises should be taken from the non-standardised lists that have been compiled by students because they will help to reinforce learning that has been undertaken up until this module. Using standardised lists would also be acceptable but only if they contain problematic words because otherwise the exercises would be a waste of your time and that of your students.

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