This intervention comes from the book, Evidence-Based School Interventions, by Natalie Rathvon. Spelling Wizards is set up so that teachers can incorporate a variety of accommodations and adaptations to meet individual learning needs, including individualizing spelling lists based on students’ IEP objectives and previous spelling performance. In the original study, the strategy resulted in substantial gains in spelling accuracy for all three students with special needs without negatively affecting the performance of three normally achieving comparison peers.

Materials

1. List of 20 spelling words drawn from the regular spelling curriculum or grade-level word lists, one per student triad.

2. List of 5 to 20 spelling words for students with identified disabilities or very poor spelling skills; words for students with disabilities should be selected jointly by the general education teacher and the special education teacher to be consistent with students’ IEP goals and objectives.

3. Sheets of lined paper, one per student

Intervention Steps

1. Divide the class into triads consisting of students with a range of spelling performance levels. If the class includes students with disabilities or very poor spelling skills, include no more than one student with a disability or one very low-performing student in each triad.

2. Tell the students that they will be working in teams of three so everyone can have more fun and get the most out of the spelling lesson. Explain that students will take turns serving in one of three roles: (a) the “word wizard,” who writes and orally spells words; (b) the “word conjurer,” who presents the words and gives feedback; and (c) the “word keeper,” who checks the word wizard’s spelling.

3. Select three students to demonstrate the strategy while the rest of the class observes. Guide the students through the steps described below, emphasizing the roles played by each member of the team.

a. The word conjurer randomly selects a word from the appropriate¬†spelling list (the general word list for students without disabilities or an individualized list for a poor speller or student with disabilities), and says, “Spell ____” to the word wizard. If the word conjurer cannot read the word to be spelled, the word keeper supplies the word or raises his or her hand to ask for assistance.

b. The word wizard has 5 seconds to write the word and spell it aloud.

c. The word conjurer and the word keeper jointly check the spelling accuracy of the response. The word conjurer then provides feedback to the word wizard by saying, “I agree,” or “I disagree.” If the word wizard did not spell the word correctly, the word keeper shows him or her the word on the list, and the steps are repeated until the word wizard spells the word correctly.

d. After the word wizard has had an opportunity to spell all of the words on his or her list, the roles are rotated until each student has had an opportunity to serve as word wizard. Students should receive at least one trial on each word on their list during partner spelling sessions.

4. Conduct one more demonstration, using another student triad. Then have the entire class practice the procedures while you circulate, giving praise for appropriate tutoring and corrective feedback as needed. Also point out examples of cooperative and helpful tutoring behaviors as you move around the room.

5. Conduct partner spelling for 20 minutes twice a week during the regularly scheduled spelling instructional period, or more frequently, if desired.

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