As educators and parents of struggling spellers, we all can relate to the writing sample above. Students are often confused about how to double letters when they come at the end of a word. As seen in the word “tripp,” struggling spellers will often over-generalize doubling rules in an attempt to make sense of the spelling patterns that they’ve noticed on their own. This is neither unique nor irreparable; all you need are the tools to teach the rules!
A Quick Note About Generalization…
Generalization is the skill used to apply one concept to many different situations. Generalization is often used in a positive way, and in education, we celebrate those moments our students generalize skills that we’ve explicitly taught as it often demonstrates mastery. In the spelling world, note that the words ‘generalization’ and ‘rule’ may be used to mean the same thing. Kelly Steinke, author of Silver Moon Spelling Rules, describes the reasoning for this in her up and coming book, Silver Moon Spelling Rules, Set 3.
“The term ‘spelling rule’ will be used interchangeably with the term ‘spelling generalization’. This is because, at this point, students need to use critical thinking skills to consider possible spelling choices when there may be more than one way to spell a given sound. Spelling rules are a construct, or way to think about and organize spelling choices.”
Silver Moon Spelling Rules, Set 3 © 2021
And yet, there is such a thing as over-generalization. This is that all-too-familiar phenomenon where a student takes a self-appointed spelling pattern and applies it to the wrong situations (as seen above in the writing sample). Think of this like that moment that you learned dessert comes after dinner. As soon as you generalized this “rule,” you might have begun to expect dessert after EVERY meal. I’m sure you learned quickly that this simply wasn’t a rule that you could generalize to each meal, or perhaps you’re like me and still learning.
Back to Doubling…
Okay, so your student has some confusion over doubling. What now? It sure would be nice to simply tell your student the rule (often called the FLOSS rule) and fix the issue right there! However, we know we need a bit more than that to reach our students. Well, don’t panic because I’d like to share an engaging, multisensory set of strategies and FREE resources to alleviate the stress of tackling the doubling hurdle.
Before You Begin…
To begin, make sure your student has already mastered the following skills:
(mat= 1 vowel and 1 syllable, picnic= 2 vowels and 2 syllables)
*Note the exceptions: vowel teams and some silent ‘e’ syllables
Once you’re sure that the prerequisite skills are met, you can begin to teach the spelling rule.
Sam Loves Fried Zucchini…
Did I catch your interest? Good. That’s the goal. This fun phrase was created to help students remember the doubling rule. You may be familiar with the traditional mnemonic FLOSS. And while this is a handy mnemonic that has been used for many years, it’s not very engaging. That’s how Sam and his fried zucchini were born.
If you’re not familiar with this doubling rule, let me tell you how it goes:
“At the end of a word that has one vowel, double the letters F, L, S, and Z.”
There are two components to this rule:
So, with that knowledge, let’s revisit our catchy phrase again:
Sam Loves Fried Zucchini
Notice that the first letter to each word represents one of the four letters that will be doubled using this rule. Pretty nifty!
Important Tips To Consider...
The easiest way to practice this skill is to give your student a list of words. Have your student find and circle all words with 1 syllable on the page by counting the vowels. Then, have your student read each 1 syllable word out loud.
Rather, provide the student with a resource that already has the rule written down for them. I highly suggest the Silver Moon Spelling Rules cards complete with illustrations of Sam and his fried zucchini. Both student and instructor sets of cards can be found at this handy link.
You may find that students have learned to memorize a lot of words. This is especially common when working with older students. Therefore, it’s difficult to know for sure if your student has really learned the spelling rule to the point of generalization (note that this is the ‘good kind’ of generalization). Using a mix of real words and nonsense words helps you better understand what your student knows and eliminates the memorization variable.
It may seem obvious to us, but it’s not always obvious to emerging readers and spellers.
And On to the Free Resources...
Okay, okay...if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a teacher, FREE resources rock! Download, print, and enjoy these free reproducibles to practice our new rule.
As you can see, this is a really fun way to teach doubling that you can use with your students! I hope you give it a try and, if you love it, share this article with someone else.
Check out the rest of our spelling rules at www.Silvermoonspellingrules.com
If you want to see how the free reproducible work, check out this vlog where Kelly and Kate discuss the blog and the sheets!
Kate Wagner, BSE
Reading Interventionist, Remote Learning Coach