kitchen table math, the sequel: The meaning of good work

Friday, March 28, 2008

The meaning of good work

I just received my gently used copy of Spelling Mastery, Level E by Robert Dixon and Siegfried Engelmann. Perhaps my favorite passage in the Teacher's Book is The Importance of Corrections.

Correct all mistakes immediately.

The very term "correction" has a negative connotation, but corrections are a positive, critical part of effective teaching. Corrections are the equivalent of MORE INSTRUCTION, and that instruction is prompted directly by needs that students demonstrate.

Bringing every student to mastery on every component of Spelling Mastery exercises is vital to the effectiveness of the program. Spelling Mastery departs from traditional spelling programs in that once a word (or generalization) is introduced in the program, IT DOESN'T GO AWAY. Everything in the program is reviewed cumulatively, as insurance of long-term retention and transfer to writing.


Using quick pacing and an upbeat, positive attitude toward corrections are major keys to effectively correcting an entire group. Don't forget to communicate to students how pleased you are when you are not having to correct them, particularly on difficult items.

Remember this about corrections. Students don't always know what constitutes a good job. When you hold them to a very high criterion of performance (especially early in the program) they learn exactly what your expectations are. They also see that by having high performance expectations, you are making it easier for them to learn and use what is being presented. Once they see the rules of the "game," their performance improves dramatically. They learn fast and generalize well -- things they would not do if they never learn what "good work" really means.

I think that Karen Pryor would approve.

1 comment:

Catherine Johnson said...

Correct all mistakes immediately.

I'm so glad to see this, especially coming from Engelmann & Dixon.

Once again, common sense tells me that you want to make corrections & make them SOON -- but I didn't know whether the DI folks agreed.