Every student has their own unique understanding of spelling and language, and spelling lists help to cater for this diversity. Studies have found that only 300 words equates to three quarter's of a child's writing (Croft, 2001). The remaining quarters owes to a child's own experiences, and therefore a class spelling list is not as effective as a personal spelling list for students (Croft, 2001). Class spelling lists are not effective for children as they wrote-learn them for a spelling test, and then forget the words completely.
As a graduate teacher it is vital that words included on a personal spelling list are not every word a child spells incorrectly, but moreso the words that they will use more commonly in writing. The "single most important feature is the extent to which each child may be induced to be responsible for his/her own learning" (Croft, 2001, p. 29).
Decisions about prospective spelling lists may be utilised via this set of questions:
- are the usage of the words common?
- can they be extended into other parts of speech?
- do they run parallel with any current teaching themes or units of work?
- can further knowledge and research be gained/sought from the words (Meeks, 2003)?