If there's one common educational principle through the entire US educational system, it's the tradition of the weekly spelling test.
Public schools, private schools, parochial schools and homeschoolers all seem to unite around this principle. Somehow that amuses me. Has anyone ever studied the actual benefits of a weekly spelling test to education? Fro teachers, it's a simple routine time-filler. For most students, it's their first introduction to graded activities.
I do believe that if you organize your spelling lists well, you can achieve significant educational benefits. For instance, in the kindergarten through second grade, students are learning phonics which is best done through word families. Spelling tests that are organized in support of this principle (cat, rat, fat, hat, bat etc) are useful reinforcement. Similiarly, at these ages and into third grade for script, combining spelling list practice with handwriting practice is probably a very efficient way to go.
Practice spelling tests in later grades can deal with concepts like compound words, word roots, vocabulary by subject areas, country of origin, and what not.
Do you have any original ways to combine spelling tests to make them useful?
How do you spell: John Chow?