Tag Archives: spelling

Introducing The Spelling Notebook

Introducting The Spelling Notebook


Fifteen years ago I began writing my complete language arts program for second through twelfth grade students (what is now Character Quality Language Arts, CQLA). I based that program, loosely, on six programs (language arts, editing, writing, vocabulary, spelling, etc., programs) that I had been using for a dozen years with my older children. I wanted to take all of the best “part language arts” books and put them together in one. And I did that!


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The Six S Spelling Secret Packet

The Six S Spelling Secret Packet2

Welcome to Language Lady!  If you are looking for information about my “Six S Spelling Secret Packet,” then you have come to the right place!
This packet is currently available at three of my stores: Teachers Pay Teachers, Teacher’s Notebook, and CurrClick as a downloadable, one-teacher-user product.


To learn more about this product via audio, click here.

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Affect vs. Effect

Affect vs. Effect

I can remember learning about affect and effect in school–and being completely confused all of the time. Is that how you feel? Well, get ready to be relieved of your affect/effect phobia!

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You know what one of my least favorite words is? FACADE.

First of all, I work week in and week out to try to teach that an A, O, U, or most consonants make the C say “kuh.” That would make this word fuh-kade, right? (Or even fay-kade.) Unfortunately, that is wrong.

It is pronounced fuh-sodd. (That A really doesn’t make the C say “kuh.”)

That clearly makes this word a FAKE, which is one of its only redeeming qualities–it means what it looks like! Smile…

That bring us to the second aspect of the word–its meaning. It is a noun that means “a face of a building or a superficial appearance.”

In that regard, it is as it is pronounced–even though it isn’t pronounced like it is spelled (which is true of many words that came from somewhere else).

So it is easy to learn the meaning of—it has to do with what it sounds like–FACE (albeit, a fake face). But it is not spelled as one would think.

So, don’t put on a facade today! Don’t try to put on a superficial front or fake face. Be yourself!

U is for UNUSUAL SPELLINGS: Wednesday

So many of my students have trouble spelling today’s day of the week! Wednesday is definitely not phonetic, so students (and adults!) get stuck on the spelling of it. Most people say Wednesday without the sound of the d at all.
We teach our students to spell difficult words in many ways, giving them as many tools as we possibly can.
1.    Syllable by syllable—longer words that are phonetic in nature can often be syllabicated and spelled syllable by syllable by a student who is fairly phonetically-savvy: con/se/quence.

2.    Tricks and mnemonics—we call these “Tricky Tricks to Help It Stick” and use them often with our “Wacky Words”—words that have a wacky counterpart that can be confusing, such as the homophones their, there, and they’re. I had an elementary student this year who told the class that they could easily spell Nebuchadnezzar if they just divided it up and pronounced the ch as choo (not kuh): Neb/U/Chad/Nez/Zar! Of course, any tricks that help a person are handy tools to have (though the trick must help that person in order to be effective).

3.    Visual tricks—many visual people spell by “seeing” the word—its shape, its sequence of letters (and the shapes those letters make), etc.

4.    Memorization—some people  are just naturally good spellers (it is now thought to be a specific skill set separate from intelligence) and can memorize a word’s spelling once it is seen.

How do YOU spell Wednesday. Many of my students say it just like it looks to spelll it: WED/NES/DAY!
Does that help you?

Antidote vs. Anecdote

Are you confused by antidote and anecdote–like I have been a lot of the time?

Remember these tips:
~antidote–has anti in it, like an antibiotic–so it is a treatment, like an antibiotic

~anecdote–a little tidbit of info (an/ec/dote—not ECT….just EC...I often misspelled this one!)

Advice vs. Advise

Would you take adviCe from this guy? Or do you like to have more sophisticated people adviSe you?

Anybody out there tired of seeing people give other people adviSe (zuh–wrong one!) and trying to adviCe (suh–wrong one!) them? Yeah, me too.

Generally speaking, when you have two word choices with C and S as their options for spelling, it is because you need two completely different sounds:

-adviCe—The c is here because this word needs the soft sound of C (suh)

-adviSe–The s is here because this word needs the hard sound of s (zuh)

Remember: When a c is followed by an e, i, or y, it usually says its soft sound–suh.

Also remember that when a multi-syllable word has se in it as the end of a syllable, it often makes the zuh sound: please, wise, fuse, close, etc. (though certainly not always).

The real key is that there ARE two spellings–and one is the noun and is soft (adviCe) and one is the verb and is hard (adviSe).

When you set out to adviSe somebody, be sure you have enough wisdom to give sound adviCe….. 🙂

WORDY WEDNESDAY: acceleration vs deceleration

The other day I looked down on my steering wheel to find these two abbreviations: accel and decel. I am sure that these are the formal abbreviations, and I also assume that the two are abbreviations for acceleration and deceleration.

The two words are perfect words for working on two of my favorite “wordy” sub-lessons: spelling and prefix/root studies.

As a self-declared bi-phonic woman, I love to point out spelling rules any time there is the slightest bit of phonetic consistency to them. And, it just so happens, that acceleration and deceleration have a little bit of consistency to their spellings:

1. Hard and soft c
     a. ac/cel/er/a/tion
        i. The first c says kuh because it is followed by a c. (When a c or g is followed by a, o, u, or most consonants, it says its hard sound—kuh or guh.)
        ii. The second c says suh because it is followed by an e. (When a c or g is followed by e, i, or y, it says its soft sound–suh or juh.)
     b. de/cel/er/a/tion–This word only contains one c, and that c makes its soft sound (suh) because it is followed by an e.

2. Both spelled the same from then on–syllable by syllable
    a. After our cel phonemes, the remainder of each word is spelled the same.
    b. Both can be spelled syllable by syllable at that point
       i. er
       ii. a
       iii. tion

3. Thus, you can easily remember how to spell both words.
    a. ac/cel and d/cel
    b. er/a/tion (for both)

+Note: If acceleration only had one c, the first two syllables would look (“sound”) like this: a/sell (ay/sell).
+Note: If deceleration had two c’s, the first two syllables would look (“sound”) like this: dek/sell.

If you are not a lover of phonics or you learned to read and spell through sight words and memorization, you might be bored by now, so I will give you something you can take with you from this “wordy” lesson–deciphering meaning from roots and affixes (prefixes and suffixes).

First of all, remember this: You know more than you think you know!

Applying that to our two words: What do you already know about their meanings:

1. They have something to do with movement (on the steering wheel of a car; you hear them association with physics, etc.).

2. De is a prefix you are familiar with–it usually means the opposite.
   a. de-frost–unfrost
   b. de-value–not to value
3. tion–Tion (and sion words) words are usually nouns
   a. nation
   b. hypertension
   c. limitation

If you already knew those things (and now you do!), take what you already know and add it to what else you might learn about these two words:

1. ac–Prefix meaning toward

2. In physics, these two words have much more technical meanings that we do not need to concern ourselves with for this lesson. (A part of learning is knowing what you do not need to know!)

3. In medical terms, these two words have to do with getting hurt via a collision (still retaining the general meaning of movement).

4. The suffix cel can have something to do with movement or an action
   a. cancel
   b. excel

Okay, you have all of the information to unlock the definitions (and the spellings, thank-you very much!) of these two words.


A. They have something to do with movement (cel)
B. They are nouns (tion)
C. One means forward (ac–toward)
D. The other means backwards or not or undo (de).
E. Acceleration means to move forward.
F. Deceleration means to move backwards (de) or not to move.

Wasn’t that fun? 🙂

*For complete steps on “dissecting” words, see the posts about Character Ink’s teaching methods we call Definition Dissection. Here is a list of prefixes to get you started: http://languagelady365.blogspot.com/2011/01/days-13-14-roots-and-affixes-list.html