Improving Spelling through. Music. Using Rhythm and Melody to Teach Spelling Rules. In Partial Fulfillment of a Masters Degree in Education Technology and Curriculum. Action Research Project. University of Phoenix Online. Kathryn S. Morrison, Researcher. Table of Contents.
Using Rhythm and Melody to Teach Spelling Rules
Masters Degree in Education Technology and Curriculum
Action Research Project
University of Phoenix Online
Kathryn S. Morrison, Researcher
1. Statement of Problem
2. Description of Community
3. Discussion of Literature
4. Method of Intervention
6. Resources and References
Second grade students in a predominantly African-American semi-urban public school setting are failing to perform at or near national norms in spelling…
…particularly in attempts to memorize and use generalized rules when adding suffixes to root words.
swim + er put + ing
drive + er try + ing
copy + ed safe + est
In a community of 250,000, only 10% are enrolled in public schools.
* * *
The school for this study has a student population of approximately 400 students, grades Pre-K through 6.
Nationally Norm-Referenced Test Scores
Students who have been unable to intuitively grasp rules of English structure benefit from introduction to and more structured work with generalizations (Abbott, M. 2000)
Rather than teaching to the generic mean, students would benefit from teachers who can match their teaching to the unique qualities of their students (Jennings, 1997)
By fourth grade less than half of African-American students are performing at grade level (Howard, 2001)
“If learning structures and stimuli are grounded in a cultural context familiar to students, the potential for cognitive expansion is increased” (Howard, 2001)
Spelling rules were divided into three general categories:
1. A pre-test was administered
2. One rule was taught through song
3. Students practiced application of the rule in rhythmic call and response for three weeks
4. A quiz was administered
5. The process was repeated with each of the other two rules (song, practice, and quiz)
6. All three rules were reviewed for one week
7. A post-test was administered to the study group
– Silent E Rule Song
When do we drop silent ‘e’
We want to add a suffix;
Can you tell me, what’s the rule?
This is what we learned in school:
If you see
But leave ‘e’ to add – ‘l-y’
It’s so easy when you try.
- Silent E Rule
With a ‘b’ and an ‘i’
and a ‘k’ and an ‘e’;
– drop the ‘e’
Add an ‘i’ and an ‘n’ and a ‘g’
Bring class mean spelling test score up to 70%,
plus or minus 5.
(net improvement between 9% and 19%)
Although the net gain in test scores did not bring the class average up to 70%, the intervention did result in an overall improvement of 10%.
This improvement was within the margin of error established prior to intervention (14%, plus or minus 5).
The addition of elements of music (song, rhythmic speech, call and response) was effective in improving spelling of African-American second grade students when adding suffixes to root words.
Special thanks go to Patsy Stevens, composer of the three songs used in this project.
Interested parties can find a wealth of information on her web site at http://www.gardenofpraise.com
Abbott, M. (2000). Identifying reliable generalizations for spelling words: The importance of multilevel analysis. [Electronic version] The Elementary School Journal, 101(2), 233-245.
Foster, M. & Peele, T. (1999). Teaching and learning in the contexts of African American English and culture. [Electronic version] Education and Urban Society, 31(2) 177-189
Howard, T. C., (2001). African-American students: A case of four teachers.[Electronic version] Urban Education, 36(2), 179-202.
Jennings, M., (1997). Individualize your spelling instruction. [Electronic version] Preventing school failure, 42(1), 44.
Kaplan, A. & Maehr, M.L. (1999). Enhancing the motivation of African American students: An achievement goal theory perspective. [Electronic version] The Journal of Negro Education, 68(1), 23-41.