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NIFL-ASSESSMENT 2005: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:868] Spelling discussion

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From: Marie Cora (
Date: Thu Jan 20 2005 - 09:51:38 EST

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Subject: [NIFL-ASSESSMENT:868] Spelling discussion continues
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Hi all, I am posting this message from colleague Judy Titzel.  (I have
to say that toward the end of Judy's message where she notes that "she
can't spell worth a dang" - I actually know this to be true!:-))

Interesting interchange....hopefully the list thread won't slide into
the 'reading wars', or 'spelling wars', or 'math wars'  where extremely
complex sets of skills are polarized between foundation skills and
higher order thinking skills. [Katrina, I'm certainly not saying your
post is in that category.]

Example: many of my students feel they can't 'do math' because they
don't know their times tables (or can't write because they don't know
how to spell). But they can and should be encouraged to exercise their
reasoning skills while working on those less exciting foundation skills.

There is enough research by now to assure teachers and learners that one
does not need to be proficient in foundation skills (spelling, grammar,
times tables) to use and strengthen thinking skills (solving math
problems with mathematical reasoning; conveying thoughts through
writing) and in fact, work on foundation skills should not occur in
isolation but in the context of actually thinking through a problem,
situation, task, etc. A balance must be struck, especially to enable
adults students to experience success and gain a bit of self confidence
in using their thinking skills. It's pretty discouraging to focus on
those dang times tables for ever!

For full disclosure, I must say that dispite holding a bunch of advanced
degrees (i.e. over-educated), I can't spell worth a dang (my computer
spell check often tells me it can't figure out what the heck i'm
searching for and I have a hard time using the dictionary because it
takes way too long to find a word when you only know the first letter!!
and I'm not exagerating. )

I'm all for balance.

Judy Titzel
Providence, RI

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