Teacher Katie Clark has introduced Spellodrome to help improve literacy standards at her large school.
Christ the Saviour CoE Primary School is improving literacy with Spellodrome
About the School
Christ the Saviour Church of England Primary School in Ealingis one of the largest Church of England schools in the country with 824 children on two sites. It continues to expand, having already grown to four forms of entry four years ago. Christ the Saviour makes provision for a wide range of abilities and as their website states, “Inclusion is at the very heart of what we do, and we boast an above-average number of pupils with statements of special educational needs.”
The school also prides itself on high academic standards in English, mathematics, science, RE and ICT. In 2014 it adopted Mathletics, the global leader in online maths learning from 3P Learning. They found it was such a success with their children, motivating them and building their maths skills, that they decided to also adopt Spellodrome in September 2015.
Katie Clark, Year 3 teacher, is in charge of its implementation at the junior site and a colleague has recently introduced it at the infant site. Recently they provided training for colleagues and all classes will be using Spellodrome from next term.
The Issues Faced
The children are taught in groups by broad ability for English. Katie has a group with a small staff to pupil ratio so to best meet the needs of the 22 children, many of whom have specific learning difficulties or additional educational needs, differentiation is absolutely crucial. Some will only manage five spellings, some can cope with ten, while others can have their own separate list.
Many of the children in this group are not yet fully confident with the 100 high frequency words for Year 1. These are essential and until they have mastered them they are unlikely to make good progress in their reading.
There are 18 MacBooks for the 22 children to use in class. Ideally the children would use Spellodrome for homework too, but some parents don’t have access to technology at home. Pupils can also access Spellodrome on iPads.
Katie has found that Spellodrome has been an ideal solution for her class and is looking forward to rolling it out right across the whole school. “I assumed it would be an exciting game,” she said. “I didn’t realise Spellodrome would be a whole new way of learning spellings.” Katie has been selecting groups of words which relate to a particular sound. Recently they have worked on ‘-oo’ sounds. Pupils have a list of five or ten words which they have to learn using the ‘Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check’ method. They write sentences to practise the words, which are all within Spellodrome in pre-loaded national curriculum aligned word lists.
Word Jumble is an activity on Spellodrome that works well for the group. They have all the letters and have to decide what the word is and how to spell it. Katie often uses this as a lesson starter. Word List Workout is also excellent: pupils hear the word and have to spell it and Katie can track how well they are doing. Next term, when the whole school adopts Spellodrome, children will receive certificates in assembly, as they do for Mathletics. For now Katie offers a prize each week for the child who wins the most points on Spellodrome. Katie envisages that Spellodrome will be used as part of a carousel of activities during guided reading for some sets. One group will be reading to an adult, another will be writing sentences with high-frequency words, a third group might be doing comprehension or reading a magazine and one group will be using Spellodrome with headphones. This means that every child will be able to use the resource, even if there are not full class sets of computers.
In the past if Katie needed to make a sheet with a particular grapheme for example ‘-igh’, -‘ed’ or ‘-ai’ words, she would have spent a lot of time looking for word lists on the internet. But now all the word lists she needs are there in Spellodrome, so it is a great time saver. Some of the children in the group have signs of dyslexia. “I am dyslexic myself,” said Katie, “and I like the fact that there are options for learning via a whole word approach instead of sound by sound. I can also see how well they are doing: how many times they attempt a word and how many times they get it wrong.” It is also proving to be popular with parents who encourage children to use it at home.
“Spellodrome is a fun, interactive game and it’s really useful. I’ve found that the children are really keen to learn their spellings now. They’re not really aware they’re learning their spellings – it’s more like a game but they are learning but enjoying it at the same time! I’ve noticed a really big difference with the children’s high frequency words, which is really great. As a teacher, each week you’re expected to follow the spelling curriculum and that dictates the sound you’re
going to use.
Spellodrome saves a lot of time – you just type the sound in the Word Bank and all the national curriculum aligned words come up without you having to scour the internet or look in the dictionary and it even suggests words you hadn’t thought of. The “Writing Fun” tool is a really great way of learning about different text genres. It’s applicable to all year groups, and because there’s so many resources in there, you can use it for phonics, you can use it for grammar in Year 6 and it’s also really useful for EAL and SEN children. It’s a really good tool, a lot of fun, it saves the teacher a lot of time and it goes alongside the spelling approaches
you follow already and it’s a really fun way for the children to learn their spellings.” Katie Clark, Year 3 Teacher