Why Do We Want To See Dick

And Jane Run? Essay, Research Paper

Who exactly are Dick and Jane? Does Spot really exist? Dick, Jane, and Spot are all

characters that are used to teach Elementary School Children reading and spelling skills.

Spelling is a difficult concept to master, especially when learning the spelling of American

Standard English. “George Bernard Shaw said that the word fish might as well be spelled

ghoti–using gh as in rough, o is in women and ti as in vacation”(Glazer 99). Sometimes

the spelling of certain words can seem illogical and may have no other similar spelling in

the language. When a young child looks at these words, the student cannot use logic to

spell certain words. Learning Disabled children have a hard time conquering spelling and

it may be the hardest task for elementary school children with learning disabilities to

conquer. The question has been proposed of whether or not children with learning

disabilities need to be taught spelling differently in comparison to children without learning

disabilities. Children with learning disabilities learn at a slower pace and do need to be

taught spelling differently than students without learning disabilities.

According to the learning disability information web site,“ A learning disability is

a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in

understanding and using language spoken or written which may manifest itself in an

imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, spell, or do mathematical calculations.”

Basically, there are two parts to a learning disability: one is processing and the second

is discrepancy. Learning disabled students have a hard time understanding and

comprehending information. Learning disabled students know where they are going,

but have a hard time getting there because of the obstacles they face getting there. It is

like the information gets lost on the way to the brain. Discrepancy means the

connection between the learning disabled students achievement and ability. One

example the web site gives is, “ It’s kind of like a baseball player who has the ability to

hit home runs but is given a broken bat to use. He doesn’t have the chance to prove

how great he really is.” Learning disabled students are not all the same, but they all


have similar processing difficulties and learning difficulties. Students with learning

disabilities require more patience and one on one attention from teachers, making it

difficult for them to be in a class with children who do not have learning disabilities.

These children are usually put in special education classes where the class sizes are

smaller and the teachers are trained to teach these children.

There are three methods that must be used to teach spelling correctly and

effectively. The first is that “spelling instruction should not be restricted to a study of

relationships between letters and sounds but should also entail a comprehensive study

of the structural and semantic relationships of words”(Hodges 419). Teachers must

incorporate spelling with reading and writing. A child will not be able to further his

spelling skills unless he is continuously practicing and using his spelling knowledge.

Also, if a child is constantly reading and writing this will help the child learn certain

spelling rules that he can only learn through practice. The second “is that spelling

instruction and vocabulary instruction are two faces of the same coin, particularly for

older students. Not only does a study of English spelling contribute to spelling ability,

but the stability of English orthography makes it possible to explore other aspects of

the language” (Hodges 419). It does not benefit a student if he knows how to spell a

word, but does not understand how to use the word in his conversations or writings.

Spelling and the meanings of words must be taught together in order for the student to

apply his knowledge of the English language to his life. The third “is that individuals

make few, if any, random spelling errors. Each incorrect spelling has a cause, whether

from carelessness or from insufficient or erroneous knowledge about the written

language” (Hodges 420). There are not many random spelling errors. If a student

makes an error it is usually based on what he has learned before and bases the spelling

of an unknown word on his previous knowledge. Susan Glazer writes, “ New young

writers spell fish as fs, fes, feshe, and sometimes fx….confirming the fact that matching


letters with sounds can have more than one result.” (100) If teachers make students

apply their spelling knowledge to reading and writing, teach definitions along with

spelling, and correct their students spelling mistakes then the students will all be

successful spellers.

Two studies were performed in which the results proved that children with

learning disabilities need different instruction in comparison to children without

learning disabilities. The first study researched the use of spelling strategies by

elementary students with learning disabilities. Four elementary school students with

learning disabilities were used in this study and were interviewed in a group and

individually. A spelling test and a writing activity were used to determine what type of

spelling strategies were used by these students. “While one of the students discussed

using a rule based strategy, almost all of the other comments students made regarding

how they attempted to spell words and how they tried to correct misspelled words

showed that they used inappropriate strategies almost exclusively” (Darch, Soobang,

Johnson, James 19). This study shows that teachers must place importance on teaching

these students specific strategies for all types of word types and must show these

students how to apply the spelling strategies they learn. The second experiment was

the study of different teaching approaches and which one worked better in teaching

learning disabled students spelling. The two programs uses were the Spelling Mastery

Program and the Laidlaw Spelling Program. The Spelling Mastery program “teaches

students to use spelling rules in a direct, uncompromising way, and the Laidlaw

Spelling Program is a traditional that utilized writing activities based on word families,

practice in spelling words, and motivational activities” (Darch, Kim, Johnson, James

20). 30 students were used in this study and were separated into two groups, one for

the Spelling Master Program and one for the Laidlaw Spelling Program. Each group

met 12 times for instruction and then took a post test after they met for the last time.


“The results demonstrate the superiority of rule-based spelling

instructional program (Spelling Mastery Program) when compared to the

effectiveness of a instructional program that relies on the use of

motivational spelling activities and intensive practice writing words and

sentences without systematic introduction of spelling rules with carefully

sequenced practice. The students taught with the rule based program

became more proficient spelling words” (Darch, Kim, Johnson, James


As these results show, students with learning disabilities are not able to use the

appropriate rules based spelling strategies. This study also shows that students with

learning disabilities learn better when teachers use rule-based strategies that are

intensive and skill-directed, and that provide practice and certain correction


Westminster College proposes the following teaching strategies for children with

spelling disabilities, “individualized spelling instruction, self-correction, dialogue

journal, word prediction, speech synthesis, and games.” An example of individualizes

spelling instruction would be the teacher making an individual spelling list according to

each students weaknesses and strengths. Self-correction would be letting a student

correct their own tests and learn by their own corrections. A dialogue journal is when

“Each student has their own journal in which they can have continuous dialogue with

their teacher. The teacher can model appropriate grammar and language usage without

correcting what the student writes” (Westminster College). Word prediction is when

the student is given the first few letters of the word and must spell the rest of the word

out, this helps the student put the spelling rules he has learned into action.


When Hodge’s teaching methods and the teaching methods of this study are

compared the two slightly differ. Hodges does not mention teaching rules and does not

incorporate a rule based method in his teaching strategy. Hodges puts more emphasis

on making sure that the student understands the meaning and relationship of words and

not the basic rules of spelling. A rule based strategy must be taught to learning

disabled students in order for them to learn spelling. Hodges believes that spelling can

be taught through spelling activities such as Dick and Jane books, knowing the

definition of the spelling words, using the words in sentences, and using the dictionary.

This method has been proven ineffective in teaching learning disabled elementary

students. Learning disabled students learned better when they were taught spelling

rules in which they used morpheme and phoneme strategies to spell the words.

Learning disabled children are not stupid, their brain just chooses to learn a different

way in comparison to children without learning disabilities.

Why do we want to see Dick and Jane run?

Smruti Desai




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