J. Richard Gentry, affectionately known as "America's Spelling Guru," is an internationally acclaimed author, researcher, and educational consultant. He is also a co-author for Hameray's upcoming professional book, Kid Writing in the 21st Century: A Systematic Approach to Phonics, Spelling, and Writing Workshop, which will be released in May 2017.
Last week, Dr. Gentry published an article in Psychology Today, "Landmark Study Finds Better Path to Reading Success." The article proves that a young student's reading and writing skills go hand-in-hand. In other words, writing in the classroom will also boost students' reading scores!
In his article, Dr. Gentry cites a study by Gene Ouellette and Monique Sénéchal that was published earlier this year (2017). This study advocates for "invented spelling"—a young writer's "self-directed and spontaneous attempts to represent words in print" (Gentry). Through invented spelling, a student might incorrectly spell a word, like "KN" for the word "can." However, meaningful learning is still taking place—invented spelling requires the child to draw upon phonics and sound-symbol correspondence, which are two essential reading concepts!
Invented spelling even promotes a student's cognitive devleopment:
The human brain generally gets better at whatever it practices—including invented spelling. Reflection about how to spell a word allows the child to actively practice making decisions, rather than passively memorizing. This active practice likely results in synaptic changes in the child’s brain by strengthening neuronal pathways for long term-retention of spellings to be retrieved for reading and writing.
Dr. Gentry stresses the fact that writing exercises are win-win activities for a teacher—they improve writing AND reading skills!
Ouellette and Sénéchal found a direct line from invented spelling leading to improved reading scores at the end of first grade. In their carefully crafted longitudinal study, they found invented spelling to be “a unique predictor of growth in early reading skills, over and above children’s alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.” Now that’s a huge finding!
Kid Writing in the 21st Century further explores the research ideas stated in Dr. Gentry's article. In addition to explaining invented spelling in greater detail, the book also provides example lessons to encourage students to invent spellings. Dr. Gentry, Eileen Feldgus (Ed.D.), and Isabell Cardonick (M. Ed.), share their real teacher experiences and literacy lesson ideas. Incorporating the wisdom of its authors and the newest 21st-century research, Kid Writing is sure to become your go-to professional text!
Click the image below to view a brochure about Kid Writing in the 21st Century!