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Butovsky, Lillian and Tamara Moscoe.

Scarborough, (Ont.), Prentice-Hall, c1986. 180pp, paper, $8.76, ISBN 0-13-834102-8. CIP

Grades 2-6
Reviewed by Robert W. Bruisma

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

Although I was sent only the grade 2 student text of this spelling series to review, I did have the opportunity to examine a grade 4 student text and teacher's guide as well.

In the introduction to the teacher's guide, the authors of this series knowledge that there has been a debate about the value of spellers in recent years. I am one of those who has questioned their value on the grounds that spelling is best taught as integral to the entire language arts program rather than as a separate isolated activity. On the other hand, we now have good evidence that indicates that there is a core of words that most Canadian children use in their elementary school writing. Spell Well uses lists that have been found by recent research to be most frequently used or mispelled by children and adults, and also provides for children to learn personal spelling words that they need for their own peculiar interests. The program emphasizes the pretest-study-test method so that children work only on learning to spell those words that they clearly do not know how to spell. Also, in keeping with current research evidence, each week's plan is designed to utilize only about fifteen minutes per day of direct spelling instruction and practice. All of this is packaged in an easy to use, straight forward student book, which itilizes a detective story line throughout the lessons to arouse and maintain interest in learning to spell well. The teacher's manual that I examined was helpful and clearly laid out with weekly lesson plans and all student pages reproduced (with answers) for easy reference.

I am personally still convinced that the money spent on a graded spelling series can be better utilized to build the school's trade book library. A useful handbook with graded word lists such as found in Ves Thomas's Teaching Spelling: Canadian Word Lists and Spelling Materials (Gage, 1979) is all one needs to construct and implement a sound elementary spelling program. Yet, for those teachers who want the added structure of a spelling series, Spell Well certainly provides a modern, responsibly developed alternative.

Robert W. Bruisma, The King's College, Edmonton, Alta.
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