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Spelling Rules

Conventional Spelling Rules

Eight Great Spelling Rules

Teachers should teach the sound-spelling system as part of a balanced spelling program. To determine the individual needs of your students, teachers need the comprehensive Diagnostic Spelling Assessment to diagnose students and plan effective instruction.

As I previously mentioned, each of the six posts will begin with a brief reflection about the instructional spelling component, follow with a rationale for teaching that component, and finish with some free instructional spelling resources. The components of each of the six posts are as follows:
1. Diagnostic Assessment 2. Sound-Spellings 3. Spelling Rules
4. Spelling Lists and Tests 5. Spelling Practice 6. Integrated Spelling and Vocabulary.

This week we explore how to teach the spelling rules.

Reflection

  • I know the key eight conventional spelling rules that work most all of the times.
  • I have an instructional plan in place to teach these spelling rules.
  • I have formative assessments in place to analyze their progress.

Rationale

Just because the English sound-spelling system works in only about 50% of spellings does not mean that there are not predictable spelling patterns to increase that percentage of spelling predictability and accuracy. Although the sound-spelling patterns are the first line of defense, the conventional spelling rules that work most all of the time are a necessary back-up.

Spelling Resources

Here are the Eight Great Spelling Rules with links to memorable MP3 songs and raps to help your students (and you) remember them. TURN THEM UP!

1. The i before e Rule

Usually spell i before e (believe), but spell e before i after a c (receive) and when the letters are pronounced as a long /a/ sound (neighbor).

The i-before-e Spelling Rule

2. The Final y Rule

Keep the y when adding an ending if the word ends in a vowel, then a y (delay-delayed), or if the ending begins with an i (copy-copying). Change the y to i when adding an ending if the word ends in a consonant, then a y (pretty-prettiest).

 The Final y Spelling Rule

3. The Silent e Rule

Drop the e (have-having) at the end of a syllable if the ending begins with a vowel. Keep the e (close-closely) when the ending begins with a consonant, has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound, then an “ous” or “able” (peaceable, gorgeous), or if it ends in “ee”, “oe”, or “ye” (freedom, shoeing, eyeing).

 The Silent e Spelling Rule

4. The Double the Consonant Rule

Double the last consonant, when adding on an ending (permitted), if all three of these conditions are met: 1. the last syllable has the accent (per / mit)  2. the last syllable ends in a vowel, then a consonant (permit). 3. the ending you add begins with a vowel (ed).

The Double the Consonant Rule

5. The Ending “an” or “en” Rule

End a word with “ance”, “ancy”, or “ant”  if the root before has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound (vacancy, arrogance) or if the root ends with “ear” or “ure” (clearance, insurance). End a word with “ence”, “ency”, or “ent” if the root before has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound (magnificent, emergency), after “id” (residence), or if the root ends with “ere” (reverence).

 The Ending “an” or “en” Rule

6. The “able” or “ible” Rule

End a word with “able” if the root before has a hard /c/ or /g/ sound (despicable, navigable), after a complete root word (teachable), or after a silent e (likeable). End a word with “ible” if the root has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound (reducible, legible), after an “ss” (admissible), or after an incomplete root word (audible).

The “able” or “ible” Rule

7. The Ending “ion” Rule

Spell “sion” for the final zyun sound (illusion) or the final shun sound (expulsion, compassion) if after an l or s. Spell “cian” (musician) for a person and “tion” (condition) in most all other cases.

 The Ending “ion” Rule

8. The Plurals Rule

Spell plural nouns with an s (dog-dogs), even those that end in y (day-days) or those that end in a vowel, then an o (stereo-stereos). Spell “es” after the sounds of /s/, /x/, /z/, /ch/, or /sh/ (box-boxes) or after a consonant, then an o (potato-potatoes). Change the y to i and add “es” when the word ends in a consonant, then a y (ferry-ferries). Change the “fe” or “lf” ending to “ves” (knife-knives, shelf-shelves).

 The Plurals Rule

A Model Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

Differentiated Spelling Instruction

Preview the Grades 4-8 Spelling Scope and Sequence tied to the author’s comprehensive grades 4-8 Language Strand programs. The instructional scope and sequence includes grammar, usage, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary. Teachers and district personnel are authorized to print and share this planning tool, with proper credit and/or citation. Why reinvent the wheel? Also check out my articles on Grammar Scope and Sequence, Mechanics Scope and Sequence, and Vocabulary Scope and Sequence.

FREE DOWNLOAD TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING SPELLING RESOURCES. Administer my FREE comprehensive Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with audio file and recording matrix. It has 102 words (I did say comprehensive) and covers all common spelling patterns and conventional spelling rules. It only takes 22 minutes and includes an audio file with test administration instructions. Once you see the gaps in your middle school students spelling patterns, you’re going to want to fill those gaps.

Get the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment, Mastery Matrix, and Sample Lessons FREE Resource:

Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Programs

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8

The author of this article, Mark Pennington, has compiled the assessment-based Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)  BUNDLES to teach each of the Common Core Language Strand Standards. The full-year grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 programs provide 56 interactive grammar, usage, and mechanics worksheets and includes sentence diagrams, error analysis, mentor texts, writing applications, and sentence dictation formative assessments with accompanying worksheets (L.1, 2). Plus, each grade-level program has

weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of all language components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment. Students CATCH Up on previous unmastered Standards while they KEEP UP with current grade-level Standards. Check out the YouTube introductory video of the author’s program.

Literacy Centers, Reading, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Silent e Spelling Rule

The silent final at the end of a syllable is a holdover from Middle English. It sometimes serves three purposes.

  1. For one, it usually indicates that the preceding vowel will be a long sound if a single consonant, but not a double consonant, is placed between the vowel and the e. Examples: stove, gazelle
  2. It also ends English words ending in and Examples: pave, argue
  3. Lastly, the final softens the preceding /c/ and /g/ sounds. Examples: nice, cage

    Silent Final e Phonics

    Silent Final e Sound-Spellings

Yes, there are plenty of exceptions which must be memorized. Most of the exceptions are high frequency words. In fact the top 100 non-phonetic words, in terms of frequency, include 8 of them: were, where, there, some, come, gone, sure, lose

However, the single syllable silent final words are not the spelling problem for most students. It’s the multi-syllabic words in which as suffix is added on the ending silent final e that creates the spelling challenges, so that’s what the following spelling rule addresses.

Final Silent e Spelling Rule

Final e Spelling Rule

The Silent e Spelling Rule

Drop the e (have-having) at the end of a syllable if the ending begins with a vowel. Keep the e (close-closely) when the ending begins with a consonant, has a soft /c/ or /g/ sound, then an “able” or “ous” (peaceable, courageous), or if it ends in “ee”, “oe”, or “ye” (freedom, canoeing, eyeing).

Exceptions to the rule: acknowledgment, acreage, argument, awful, duly, judgment, mileage, ninth, noticeable, outrageous, simply, truly, wisdom

Check out the Chant! The Silent e Spelling Rule

Final e Memory Chant

Drop the final e

When adding on an ending

If it starts with a vowel up front.

Keep the final e

When adding on an ending

If it starts with a consonant.

Also keep the e

When you hear soft c or g

Before “able” or “o-u-s”

Mostly keep the e

When the ending is “y-e”,

“e-e”, or even “o-e”. YEO!

The Pennington Publishing Goldmine of Spelling Program FREEBIES

Want a concise list of all eight conventional spelling rules with corresponding songs? Click HERE.

Want a list of the 10 English Accent Rules to help you teach the conventional spelling rules? Click HERE.

Want a list of the 20 Advanced Syllable Rules to help you teach the conventional spelling rules? Click HERE.

Want the 104-word Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with audio file and recording matrix? Click HERE and download at the end of the article.

One great way to practice the rule is with worksheets targeted to the results of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Download the FREE Double the Consonant Spelling Pattern Worksheets at the end of this article to help you check out the quality of Our Pennington Publishing spelling programs. Each worksheet sound-spelling example words, a spelling sort, rhymes or book searches, word jumbles, a short writing application, and a brief formative dictations assessment.

Why waste your time downloading each of these? Buy the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 Differentiated Spelling Instruction and get everything you need to have the best grade-level and remedial spelling program.

*****

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

Differentiated Spelling Instruction

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year Differentiated Spelling Instruction programs for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. The grade-level programs include weekly tests, based upon conventional spelling rules and developmental spelling patterns, weekly spelling sorts, review games, and audio links to catchy spelling songs. Additionally, the comprehensive diagnostic spelling assessment (audio file included) tests spelling patterns from previous grade levels, and the corresponding worksheets allow you to pinpoint instruction according to individual needs. Each worksheet includes a formative assessment to help you determine whether students have mastered the spelling instruction. The program is simple to implement and doesn’t take up too many valuable instructional minutes. You do have other subjects to teach!

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Programs

Or why not get the value-priced Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 BUNDLES? These grade-level programs include both teacher’s guide and student workbooks and are designed to help you teach all the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language. In addition to the Teaching Grammar and Mechanics program, each BUNDLE provides weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of the grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment.

Check out the brief introductory video and enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716 at check-out for 10% off this value-priced program. We do sell print versions of the teacher’s guide and student workbooks. Contact mark@penningtonpublishing.com for pricing. Read what teachers are saying about this comprehensive program:

The most comprehensive and easy to teach grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary program. I’m teaching all of the grade-level standards and remediating previous grade-level standards. The no-prep and minimal correction design of this program really respects a teacher’s time. At last, I’m teaching an integrated program–not a hodge-podge collection of DOL grammar, spelling and vocabulary lists, and assorted worksheets. I see measurable progress with both my grade-level and intervention students. BTW… I love the scripted lessons!

─Julie Villenueve

Get the Silent e Spelling Pattern Worksheets FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The i before e Spelling Rule

i before e Spelling Rule

i before e

People love to break rules; sadly and happily it’s in our nature. Even more so, people love to discover and point out when rules aren’t rules at all. The latter is often the case with regard to the before spelling rule. People love to challenge that rule. The editor of Reddit posted the following take-down of the most well-known English spelling rule:

I before E…

…except in a zeitgeist of feisty counterfeit heifer protein freight heists reining in weird deified beige beings and their veiny and eidetic atheist foreign schlockmeister neighbors, either aweigh with feigned absenteeism, seized by heightened heirloom forfeitures (albeit deigned under a kaleidoscope ceiling weighted by seismic geisha keister sleighs) or leisurely reimbursing sovereign receipt or surveillance of eight veiled and neighing Rottweilers, herein referred to as their caffeinated sheik’s Weimaraner poltergeist wieners from the Pleiades.

Christopher Ingram titled his recent Washington Post article: “The ‘i before e, except after c’ rule is a giant lie” and reported the findings of the University of Warwick statistician, Nathan Cunningham, who analyzed the data of 350,000 English words to test the rule. Cunningham’s study found that in 75% of the “ie” or “ei” spellings, the “ie” spelling is used.

The balance of the article is used to debunk, the “cei” portion of the rule and to suggest that the “wei” pattern is worth memorizing. No mention is made of the long /a/ “ei” spelling. Ingram closes his article with a dancing word graphic: “lol nothing matters.”

Now, I’m not above writing a provocative article to sell my curriculum to teachers. Taking a contrary viewpoint on a controversial or popular subject makes people think (and read an article). However, Ingram is playing out of his league on this one. The 143 comments (now closed) rip Ingram’s assertions and Cunningham’s study apart.

I would like to chime in with two comments not mentioned in response to the article. By the way, as an English teacher and reading specialist, who has authored nearly a dozen spelling books over the years (crass promo to follow article), this subject is in my league.

Comment #1: Conventional English spelling rules don’t apply to foreign words, derivatives, plurals, and syllable divisions. The latter, not mentioned in any of the 143 comments, requires an example: Ingram mentions “being” as an exception to the rule. Any third grader, clapping out the syllables, knows that “be/ing” has two syllables. The conventional spelling rules apply to syllables, not words. Spellings are used to map sounds; a syllable has one vowel sound and, yes, vowels have different spellings. Reading teachers know this.

This is true even for the connecting spelling rules, such as the Consonant Doubling Rule. Cunningham’s study and the Reddit posting don’t apply the proper orthographic rules to analyze the utility of the rules. I recently played Settlers of Catan for the first time with my two nephews. I could tell within minutes that they were making up and changing the rules of the game to their advantages. No, they would not allow me to read the directions. Respectfully, Ingram, Cunningham, and the Reddit editor have not read or properly applied the directions to the spelling rules game.

Rules Matter in Life

Rules Matter

Comment #2: My second comment refers to the presupposition behind the closing “lol nothing matter” comment. Obviously, it was meant to be humorous, but it is also counterproductive. Like it or not, proper use of our language does matter and spelling is a “high stakes” indicator of one’s literacy. The rules of language, even with their exceptions, serve useful purposes. Knowing the rules, whether spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc., provides tools for proper usage and a foundation upon which to append exceptions. Settlers of Catan is only fun when played by the rules.

One more point regarding spelling rules: If there are no conventional spelling rules, than every word must be memorized by sight and analogy. We’ve been down that road before. Reading and orthographic research have thoroughly debunked that practice. English is an alphabetic system: a code which is designed to be mapped out with sound-spellings. English does not use a logographic writing system, such as the Chinese symbols; let’s not make it into one.

BOTTOM LINE: The before rule has some exceptions, but not as many as people believe. It is well-worth memorizing and applying to one’s spelling. One great way to practice the rule is with worksheets targeted to the results of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Download the five FREE before Spelling Pattern Worksheets at the end of this article to help you check out the quality of Our Pennington Publishing spelling programs. Each worksheet sound-spelling example words, a spelling sort, rhymes or book searches, word jumbles, a short writing application, and a brief formative dictations assessment.

Following is my wording of the i before e spelling rule:

Usually spell i before e (believe), but spell e before i after a c (receive) and when the letters are pronounced as a long /a/ sound (neighbor).

Exceptions to the rule: beige, caffeine, codeine, conscience, either, feign, feint, foreign, forfeit, freight, heifer, height, heinous, heir, heist, neither, protein, rein, science, seismic, seize, veil, vein, weird

Check out the song! The i-before-e Spelling Rule

i before e Song

(to the tune of “Rig ‘a Jig Jig”)

Spell i before e ‘cause that’s the rule

Rig-a-jig-jig and away we go,

That we learned back in school.

Away we go, away we go!

But e before i comes after c,

Rig-a-jig-jig and away we go,

and when you hear long /a/. Hey!

Hi-ho, hi-ho, hi-ho.

*****

The Pennington Publishing Goldmine of Spelling Program FREEBIES

Want a concise list of all eight conventional spelling rules with corresponding songs? Click HERE.

Want a list of the 10 English Accent Rules to help you teach the conventional spelling rules? Click HERE.

Want a list of the 20 Advanced Syllable Rules to help you teach the conventional spelling rules? Click HERE.

Want the 104-word Diagnostic Spelling Assessment with audio file and recording matrix? Click HERE and download at the end of the article.

One great way to practice the rule is with worksheets targeted to the results of the Diagnostic Spelling Assessment. Download the FREE before e Spelling Pattern Worksheets at the end of this article to help you check out the quality of Our Pennington Publishing spelling programs. Each worksheet sound-spelling example words, a spelling sort, rhymes or book searches, word jumbles, a short writing application, and a brief formative dictations assessment.

Why waste your time downloading each of these? Buy the grades 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 Differentiated Spelling Instruction and get everything you need to have the best grade-level and remedial spelling program.

*****

Differentiated Spelling Instruction Grades 4-8

Differentiated Spelling Instruction

I’m Mark Pennington, author of the full-year Differentiated Spelling Instruction programs for grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. The grade-level programs include weekly tests, based upon conventional spelling rules and developmental spelling patterns, weekly spelling sorts, review games, and audio links to catchy spelling songs. Additionally, the comprehensive diagnostic spelling assessment (audio file included) tests spelling patterns from previous grade levels, and the corresponding worksheets allow you to pinpoint instruction according to individual needs. Each worksheet includes a formative assessment to help you determine whether students have mastered the spelling instruction. The program is simple to implement and doesn’t take up too many valuable instructional minutes. You do have other subjects to teach!

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand)

Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) Grades 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Programs

Or why not get the value-priced Grammar, Mechanics, Spelling, and Vocabulary (Teaching the Language Strand) grades 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 BUNDLES? These grade-level programs include both teacher’s guide and student workbooks and are designed to help you teach all the Common Core Anchor Standards for Language. In addition to the Teaching Grammar and Mechanics program, each BUNDLE provides weekly spelling pattern tests and accompanying spelling sort worksheets (L.2), 56 language application opener worksheets (L.3), and 56 vocabulary worksheets with multiple-meaning words, Greek and Latin word parts, figures of speech, word relationships with context clue practice, connotations, and four square academic language practice (L.4, 5, and 6). Comprehensive biweekly unit tests measure recognition, understanding, and application of the grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary components.

The program also has the resources to meet the needs of diverse learners. Diagnostic grammar, usage, mechanics, and spelling assessments provide the data to enable teachers to individualize instruction with targeted worksheets. Each remedial worksheet (over 200 per program) includes independent practice and a brief formative assessment.

Check out the brief introductory video and enter DISCOUNT CODE 3716 at check-out for 10% off this value-priced program. We do sell print versions of the teacher’s guide and student workbooks. Contact mark@penningtonpublishing.com for pricing. Read what teachers are saying about this comprehensive program:

The most comprehensive and easy to teach grammar, mechanics, spelling, and vocabulary program. I’m teaching all of the grade-level standards and remediating previous grade-level standards. The no-prep and minimal correction design of this program really respects a teacher’s time. At last, I’m teaching an integrated program–not a hodge-podge collection of DOL grammar, spelling and vocabulary lists, and assorted worksheets. I see measurable progress with both my grade-level and intervention students. BTW… I love the scripted lessons!

─Julie Villenueve

Get the i before e Spelling Pattern Worksheets FREE Resource:

Grammar/Mechanics, Spelling/Vocabulary, Study Skills, Writing , , , , , , , , ,