Today's Wisdom

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Review: Spelling You See American Spirit Level E

Spelling You See Review
You may be familiar with the popular homeschool math curriculum called Math-U-See. Well, Demme Learning has now added a sibling to their family for spelling called, Spelling You See

It's no secret that all 3 of my children struggle in spelling!  This year has been our best yet but I still felt that we were not where we needed to be so I jumped at the chance to review Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)!  We have tried many different approaches to spelling including learning phonics rules and word lists with little success.

Spelling You See takes a totally different approach where there are no word lists or phonic rules to memorize. It is meant for elementary ages, or for remedial work for older students.The program takes you through 5 Developmental Stages of Spelling.  These stages are sequential meaning they build upon one another so placement guidelines are very important with this curriculum. Spelling You See describes the stages as this, "The developmental process of spelling is similar to what children go through when learning to walk. They need to develop the prerequisite skill of crawling before they can move on to walking and then running. In the same way, this program guides your homeschool student through the stages in the process of learning to spell."

The 5 stages are Preliterate, Phonetic, Skill Development, Word Extension, and Derivational Constancy.  You can watch a short video of Dr. Holinga describing each of the stages here
There are 5 levels available to take you through each of those developmental stages.  You can learn more about the stages and levels on the website. 
Spelling You See Review

How we use Spelling You See In Our Homeschool

After using the placement guidelines, I decided that both Stephen (7th - age 13) and Sarah (5th - age 10) needed to begin in Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) and I think that level fits both of them very well.
Spelling You See Review
Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) provides continued practice in the Skill Development stage.  The Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) student pack includes 2 student workbooks, and a pack of erasable colored pencils for the price of $30 for the set. At first we shared the pencils but I quickly found out that my children loved having their own pencils.  There is also an instructor's handbook available $14 that you can purchase separately.  
Spelling You See Review
There are 36 lessons with each lesson broken down into a daily worksheet labeled with the lesson number and daily sheet.  For example - Lesson 1A for Monday, Lesson 2B for Tuesday, Lesson 3C for Wednesday, Lesson 4D for Thursday, and Lesson 5E for Friday.  In the American Spirit level, each lesson contains a nonfiction passage about people and events from American history.

In this level, you will use the three core activities of chunking, copywork, and dictation. 
In each lesson, you are given certain chunks to look for and mark in a special color such as vowel (yellow), consonant (blue), bossy r (purple), tricky y guy (green), endings (pink or red), and silent letters (orange).  The student uses the appropriate colored pencil to mark the chunks given in each lesson.  This helps the student become familiar with many of English's irregular letter patterns.

The student has 3 days of copywork per lesson.  We adapted this for a 4 day school week and dropped one of the copywork days.  The process of copywork allows the student to take the words in visually and then copy them kinesthetically (actually writing the word - doing).  This is not a time to stress penmanship and copywork is not done in cursive.  This is simply a time for the child to see the word and then copy it allowing the student to become more familiar with the word

They are 2 days designed for dictation days.  We set a timer for 10 minutes and I would read a sentence from the passage, helping where needed with punctuation, proper nouns, and capitalization.  At the end of the 10 minutes, we count the number of correct words spelled by the student and mark them on the appropriate spot on the page.  If a timer intimidates you child, then drop the timer and just try to stick with the 10 minute time frame without it.  I know, Sarah, would have frozen at the mention of a timer a few years ago but now she is more comfortable with it.  Sometimes we skipped the 2nd dictation day with my 7th grader (Stephen) who often got the entire passage correct the first time.  However, Sarah who is in 5th needed all 4-5 days to really see improvement with her spelling.

Here is a video we put together of us in action during week 2.  

You can download a sample of American Spirit.  There are also samples available for each level.  

We love this curriculum!  It is so different than any that we have ever used before. The concept is so simple and easy.  Ther are no tests.  There is no preparation needed from the parent ahead of time and the instructor's guide makes it easy for you to check your student's work because it provides a colorful answer key for all the chunks.  I asked Stephen and Sarah if they wanted to continue using this after our review period and they both said, "YES!"  

You can visit the getting started page to find out where you need to start with your child. You can also download their Spelling Readiness Guidelines to help you decide.   Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) is available for purchase here and the other levels can be found here.  

You can also find Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter.

Click the banner below to see Spelling You See (all levels) in action in homeschools.
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  1. Thank you for sharing your honest experience, Melissa. I was waiting for this review from you before buying it, and now feel good about sharing with other moms. You are wonderful, friend!

  2. Hi Melissa, I'm so glad to have found your video and thorough review! I am wanting to purchase this for my twins who are 12. Did you just use one student pak for both students? Did you just make copies of the pages? Thanks so much!

    1. I purchased student books for each child instead of copying. You may want to contact them to see about copying pages. I just found it easier to purchase the books already complete. For our review, we were given an ebook and a physical book to use so that made it easier as well. As of now, I don't think they have any ebooks available. HTH!


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