Spellcheck: Tool or Hinderance?

According to the article titled: Oregon will allow students to use spell check on state writing tests in 2011, there is much debate about using and adapting to new tools. As someone who tries to teach spelling, I can tell you that spellcheck doesn’t always catch spelling mistakes – especially homophones like to, too, and two or there, their, and they’re. And while many words in English follow logical orthographic patterns, some of our most common words (sight-words for young kids) are the exceptions to those generalizations or patterns. For example, why do words like go, no,  quo, and so follow the open syllable rules with the long vowel sound, but words like do and to, don’t. You have to put a silent-e on the ends of those doe and toe  if you want that long /o/ sound after the consonant. Of course you would also have to learn how to spell dough and tow, or Homer Simpson’s favorite cry, “Doh!”

I think a tool like spellcheck will continue to get better and catch those kinds of words described. I also think there is no harm in having kids use all the tools available for a writing test. Don’t authors today use these tools, as well as editors? I know there are evenings when I purge my thoughts onto this blog, but don’t take the time to catch my errors before hitting the publish button since it’s just a simple reflection. However, I have to realize that once it’s out there, other people are reading it. Who knows some of them may be passing judgement on my writing, but I’m not too bothered. That’s not my primary purpose.

Recently we piloted a couple of units from a new math text and I asked the children for their feedback at the end. After reading their feedback and seeing that many children wrote, “It was to [sic] easy,” my assessment wasn’t just how they felt about the elements of the text. I also realized my students and I are going to have to spend some time on the words to, too, and two.


4 thoughts on “Spellcheck: Tool or Hinderance?

  1. Our school recently bought a program called Spelling Mastery. We now invest 4 lessons consisting of 45min for spelling. The positive is we are noticing improvements, the dowside is that it is a bit boring for the kids and teachers alike.

    I think spell check is there for everyone to use and therefore kids should be able to use it for their state writing tests.

  2. I have a seven year old and I have a photo blog set up for her. In this coming term though I will be having her write a caption or poem for a few of her photo’s. I have decided to use spell check to her advantage and have her look for the little red squigglies under words. When she sees them try to make them disappear using the word she was trying to spell. Sort of a game I know she will enjoy. I might call them ‘snakes’ to make it a little more fun. I think she will start to pay attention on how she is spelling. The goal being that no or a very little amount of squigglies show up.

  3. This is what modern technology can gives us. It gives us the easiest way to check the spelling and grammar. And for me also it has advantages and disadvantages in using this spell check. Children may either lazy in studying in terms of grammar and spelling cos of this new tool that is being discovered.. And also it is of great help to those students having their thesis being studied.

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