Research has shown that boys think differently than girls. Tell a parent that, and they will let you know they already were aware of it. Research shows that boys brains work better in the areas focusing on kinesthetics or movements, spatial reasoning and in the visual centers. Old ways of teaching are being changed to meet the new challenges of differentiating or changing instruction. Spelling is an area where boys have had problems for years, as it relies on the verbal center of the brain. Boys are not as fine tuned in the verbal area, so usually score worse on spelling tests. When teaching younger students and special education students, I incorporated a method of teaching spelling that used movement and rhythm. I divided spelling word lists into how many letters were in each of the words. For example joy has three, play has four, and so on. I then came up with a familiar nursery rhyme song other familiar song that had the same number of beats and could be used to learn the words. The songs I used are as follows.
For younger children, I selected common child hood songs.
3 letters: Three Blind Mice
4 letters: Are You Sleeping
5 letters: Row Row Row Your Boat
6 letters: Happy Birthday to You
7 letters: Mary Had a Little Lamb
8 letters: For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow
For older children, those in junior high or high school, these songs might seem a bit juvenile in addition to needing songs with more beats for more letters. Following are some of the songs I have chosen which are probaby familiar to most older students.
4 Letters: YMCA
5 Letters: I will Survive ( if you hold out the lsat of Survive for two letters)
6 Letters: Sweet Home Alabama
7 Letters: We are the Champoins
8 Letters: Macarena
The trick to using this strategy is to allow the boys to stand up and even tap their feet or clap their hands when spelling the words. Movement will actually help them to remember the word that they are spelling. Using kinesthetic along with rhythm helps all children, but especially boys, to learn. When we are taking the tests, I allow the boys to silently sing the songs with the letters, or to tap their feet slightly. When I used this strategy in my classroom, I noticed that the boys especially, increased their spelling sounds. I know a number of teachers who expand this strategy to learning such things as the periodic table or the biology order. Some teachers even let students create raps about the subject they are learning.
Try this spelling strategy in your classroom or with your children at home. Expand it to other subject areas if appropriate. You will notice that your boys will do better as well as paying attention when learning material to songs.