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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Spelling program gets mixed teacher reviews

Friday, October 26, 2001

The focus was put on the Rebecca Sitton Spelling Program used throughout Storm Lake's elementary and middle schools at last week's school board meeting.

Board members spent time reviewing the program and looking over the results of a survey done of teachers who use the program in the classroom.

The district started using the Rebecca Sitton Spelling Program six years ago and it is a "non-traditional" approach to spelling, said Assistant Superintendent Larry Parman.

The Sitton Spelling program focuses on the use of words in daily writing assignments instead of the classic vocabulary lists and Friday quizzes many are familiar with.

School administration regularly surveys teachers to see how the program is working in the classrooms and the teachers' reactions to it.

Of the teachers surveyed, nine said to keep the program as is, 14 said to modify it on a classroom basis, 12 said to modify it on a grade level basis, and two said to abandon the program all together.

The level of support varies amongst teachers, but Parman said he feels there is a correlation between the level of support and the amount of training a teacher has received.

Several teachers in attendance at last week's board meeting said they support the ideals the program is trying to achieve.

"The application to the written language is wonderful," 2nd grade teacher Melanie Langner-Yarosevich said.

"The program makes students more accountable for proofreading their work," said 4th grade teacher Patty Semprini.

However, some teachers said with daily work the paperwork associated with the program can get to be too much. Shalley Kappenman, Middle School English teacher, said with only 38 minutes in the class the program does "gobble up" class time.

"However, with formal writing the students were more accountable for their writing," she said.

Already many teachers are modifying the program to fit their own classrooms and individual students, Parman said.

One point several teachers made was the fact that parents believe the program is too easy - especially for the more advanced students.

Part of that is because some parents may not understand the philosophy behind the program, Parman said.

"We need to educate parents about the program," he said. "We're trying to teach kids how to spell instead of memorizing a list of words."

The school board plans to review the spelling program more next month. Parman noted it will also be an important topic during parent-teacher confer-ences which begin next week.

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