chapter  6
28 Pages

Overcoming barriers to learning: strategic cognitive and linguistic approaches

Prominent amongst researchers in the spelling field over time has been Cramer. It was one of his papers ‘Diagnosing skills by analysing children’s writing’ in The Reading Teacher in 1976 which first introduced me to the strategic way of thinking about spelling. He described the spelling of a particular pupil as a creative writing route. David was aged seven and had written the poem without help as follows:

My Ded cate Ones I hade a cate He was white and yellow One night my father came fame my grandfathers house Wenn father come home fame my grandfathers house he said Ruste is ded

Good spellers are often good readers, but good readers can be poor spellers. Cramer (1998: 143) states that expert spellers tend to have an ‘implicit understanding of the rules that govern the English spelling system’. He emphasised the need to take a positive approach to misspellings and advocated that as soon as children have assembled any spelling knowledge they should be encouraged to use it. David had made a total of seven misspellings out of 32. Cramer argued that David’s superior spelling skills were demonstrated in his correct spellings of father, grandfather, white, night, house, said and yellow. He analysed the misspellings as common but near-miss good equivalents. The misspelling, he said, would gradually disappear with further writing practice as David became more familiar with orthographic conventions through reading.