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What Really Matters in Spelling

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Table of Contents

Chapter One: Spelling MattersChapter Two: Building and Using a Classroom Word WallChapter Three: Teaching the 100 Most Common Words and PatternsChapter Four: More Common Patterns and Words Including Common Contractions and HomophonesChapter Five: Developing a Visual Checking SenseChapter Six: Building Meaning, Phonics and Spelling Skills for Big Words

Promotional Information

A part of theWhat Really Matters series, this book offers a focused explanation of spelling and the most important strategies teachers can use so their students become good spellers and better communicators. Featuring a trusted author team and compact design, What Really Matters in Spelling: Research-Based Strategies and Activities discusses why spelling matters and its relationship to the entire reading process. Chapters progress sequentially, grouping words (100 at a time) by spelling patterns and complexity. With an emphasis on best practice, the book explains how to use a classroom word wall, identifies the 100 most common words and patterns, and examines ways to develop sophisticated, independent spellers. Written by the authors you know and trust, each of the books in the What Really Matters series offers a succinct presentation of what matters most when teaching different aspects of the reading process. With a thought-provoking, rich presentation, Pat Cunningham and Dick Allington explore complex issues teachers of reading face in today's classrooms and bring each of the topics to life. These brief and inexpensive books are written in a lively narrative with clear organization, exceptional pedagogy, and special features. Their friendly design and compact size make the books accessible, convenient, and easy-to read.

About the Author

Patricia Cunningham grew up in Rhode Island. For seven years, after graduating from The University of Rhode Island, she taught a variety of elementary grades in Florida and Indiana. She received her Ph. D in Reading Education from the University Of Georgia in 1974. After teaching at Ohio University and serving as Director of Reading for Alamance Co., North Carolina Schools, she came to Wake Forest University to direct the Elementary Education program in 1978. Pat's particular interest has always been in finding alternative ways to teach children for whom learning to read is difficult. Reading and Writing in Elementary Classrooms, first published in 1978, is currently in its fourth edition. In 1991, She published Phonics they Use: Words for Reading and Writing, which is currently available in its fourth edition. Along with Richard Allington, She published Classrooms that Work and Schools that Work. Along with Dorothy Hall, she developed the Four Blocks Literacy framework, which is currently used as the balanced literacy framework in thousand of classrooms throughout the country. She and Dorothy Hall are co-directors of the Four Blocks Literacy Center, which is housed at Wake Forest University.


"Cunningham explicitly outlines the necessary steps for introducing 100 key words per school year and offers engaging activities for classroom teachers to help all of their students become great spellers. This is exactly what classroom teachers are looking for: step-by-step spelling instruction that is meaningful and relevant to their students' needs."- Shanalee Cannon, K-5 Literacy, Southern Nevada Regional Professional Development Program, North Las Vegas, NV "The book was very interesting! I have already shared some of what I read with colleagues. I really like how the spelling is based on patterns and appreciate that the most common word patterns are broken down into lists (1st 100: 1st grade, next 100: grades 2-3, etc.). This is very helpful. The book makes a lot of sense!" "Many spelling assessments concentrate on giving a list of words. In my classroom, I have given the "list" assessments, only to see students not writing words correctly in their daily writing. It is a wonderful idea to break these words down into 4 groups of 25. It's great that [Pat] included the paragraph assessment with bolded/italicized words and the key to what these words mean." "I liked the point on page 62 about if your student can spell the first 100 words, they should really be able to spell over 600 based on those patterns. This is very interesting and useable information for a classroom teacher and would be great information to share with students learning to spell."-Mary Schroepfer, McKinley Elementary, Owatonna, MN "As a classroom teacher I know first hand how students' spelling in written work seems to becoming increasingly problematic. Students often spell words phonetically which are not always spelled correctly. It seems as if students who continue to misspell these words in their writing do not move forward, as a matter of fact very little progress is made. I think with [Pat's] approach students will have a better grasp on the tricky word patterns and help them to make a connection to other word patterns rather than just spelling one word and then moving on to the next." "Yes, I would recommend this book for professional development as well because in speaking with many of the teachers it seems that students' writing has become a sore spot in the classroom. It seems that no matter how much writing you incorporate in your classroom, students are still misspelling common words that make their writing difficult to read. There is definite need for this program and if it proves to be successful I am sure the books will fly off the shelf."- Karen Berecsky, Second Grade Teacher, Mill Lake, Monroe, NJ

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