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Pros: Abundant teacher tools make it easy for teachers to customize the spelling work for their classroom.
Cons: There's not much variety or creativity in the games.
Bottom Line: When teachers use the whole program, including the offline materials like printables, there's potential here for a comprehensive if traditional approach to spelling drills.
Use Spelling Shed to create purposeful and strategic spelling lessons that put a more creative spin on practice. Start by watching the video tutorials to get an overview of how the different teacher dashboard tools work. Then take advantage of the lesson schemes that offer both on- and offline spelling activities. Make sure to follow a logical progression of difficulty according to your students' levels and grade. Customized spelling lists can accompany any learning unit to address particular problem areas or needs. Custom lists can also help accompany science, history, literature, or social studies lessons. Have students practice spelling the new words and then explore their meaning and usage in context. If the whole class can be on computers at the same time, use the hive games to conduct spelling quizzes and address challenges in real time. Go beyond the classroom and nurture team spirit by joining the spelling league and going for high spelling scores to publish to the Spelling Shed site.
Spelling Shed is a spelling practice website and iOS app that combines digital games with offline worksheets and activities. Once teachers are signed up and connected to their school, they can create student groups and generate unique login credentials for each student. Teachers can browse through the library of spelling lists -- organized by grade/school year or theme -- or create their own. Teachers can assign these lists to groups or individual students. Schemes offer a more comprehensive spelling curriculum that's meant to be used by a whole school. The program has weekly objectives, learning activities, worksheets, and the corresponding word lists online. The hive game requires all students to be signed in to their own computer and is like a real-time virtual spelling quiz that gives immediate feedback to teachers and students. Once students complete online games or quizzes, teachers can review detailed performance reports. Spelling Shed's developers are from the U.K., so it's somewhat geared toward British English, though teachers can choose to set their account to U.K., Ireland, America, Australia, or New Zealand. Even with the American English setting, not all word choices or spellings are relevant or correct for an American audience. Try it out before purchase with a 14-day free trial. There are two pricing plans available: One covers 36 students and the other is meant for whole-school implementation.
Spelling Shed has a robust teacher platform, and it'll take a little time and exploration to learn about everything it can offer your classroom. For a jumpstart, there are pre-loaded word lists and lesson materials, but spelling lists and assignments can also be customized and created from scratch in almost unlimited ways. This customization will be key to making Spelling Shed work, and can be a great companion in an elementary classroom to lessons in any subject. There's also lots of performance data that comes back to teachers, and the color-coding makes it easy to pick out trouble spots. With all the thought that clearly went in to creating the teacher platform, it would be nice to see a more exciting student experience. Students have just three options for play, and they're all pretty traditional and basic games: Spell target words by clicking on the correct letters from those presented, play hangman, or spell as many words as they can using a group of available letters. These games offer mild differentiation; students can choose from multiple difficulty levels, though there's little guidance to help students make this choice. It'd be nice if this was not only more transparent but also more adaptive, analyzing and adjusting to students to keep them challenged. The spelling drill doesn't allow for students to try again after spelling a word incorrectly. And with many of the lower-level words consisting of just two or three letters, it's difficult for young students to play the hangman game. So while these games do offer a step up from traditional quizzes, they're not quite taking full advantage of the digital platform.