You could set up your spelling center with an ever-changing set of games and worksheets. You could include posters of the words on your current word list or alternate spellings for different sounds. But I like to encourage my students to use higher-order thinking in my classroom – including in my spelling center. I know, spelling seems like it’s all about memorizing rules, but when students use other levels of thinking, their spelling improves too. My spelling center is designed around the Three-Story Intellect.
A Three-Story Intellect spelling center provides activities that support different types of learners at different stages. And of course, it helps students with spelling!
What a Three-Story Intellect spelling center looks like
The three-story intellect recognizes these levels of thinking:
- Gathering information
- Processing information
- Applying information
When gathering information students work through activities that ask them to complete, identify, define, list, select or describe. For example, they might do a word search, write definitions of their spelling words, complete sentences, or create word triangles. Many of the gathering information activities work well as traditional spelling worksheets.
For the processing information stage, students complete activities that ask them to compare, contrast, sort, infer, analyze, or classify. For example, students sort words by spelling patterns, alphabetize them, list synonyms or antonyms, or sort words by different ways of spelling certain sounds.
When applying information students complete activities that ask them to predict, evaluate, imagine, or answer If/Then questions. One of the most common activities used for practicing spelling through the application of information is to have students write sentences using their spelling words. Other possible ideas include using words in riddles and having classmates try to guess the word, using what they have learned to edit a piece of writing, or creating mnemonics for their spelling words.
How to set up your Three-Story Intellect spelling center
One of the first things I do is hang a poster of the three-story intellect in the spelling center. It reminds students of the three levels of thinking covered. Students can also use the poster to track what they’ve done. Have students stick a brick of the appropriate color to the levels they have completed each day.
Introduce your students to the three levels and the kinds of activities they may encounter and complete at each level.
Then have them complete a spelling center contract. Why? Spelling center contracts remind students what activities they have to complete each day and can even include personal challenge tasks.
Create contracts to include a mix of individual and partner work. Here’s a format I like to use:
- Monday—individual gathering tasks
- Tuesday—partner gathering tasks
- Wednesday—individual processing tasks
- Thursday—individual applying tasks
- Friday—any processing task
Contracts stretch over two weeks, and during that time, students also work on personal challenges, such as creating a crossword puzzle using all the spelling words or finding spelling words in a newspaper or magazine and explaining the context.
For tools to help you set up a better spelling center using the three-story intellect, check out Spelling Activities for Any List of Words
More spelling center inspiration
If you’re looking for more inspiration for your spelling center, join me for the Top Notch Teaching Spelling Game Challenge!
Each day I’ll email you a new spelling game along with a short explanation on how to use it. Plus we’ll have the Top Notch Teaching Facebook group to track and monitor our progress. Try out the games with your students and share how it went in the group. The Spelling Challenge is a sneak peek of just one product that’s included as part of the Top Notch Teaching Members Club.