Grace B. Faxon.

How I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work online

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Online LibraryGrace B. FaxonHow I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work → online text (page 9 of 27)
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My little people are enthusiastic over this wider work, and it
is good to hear their voices ringing out the strains of "God save
the King;" or perhaps the "Marseillaise" leaps from their throats,
followed by some quaint old Scotch melody, a soft Canadian boat
song, or a glad Swiss mountain trill, with its calls of "Yo lee oh
lay ee oh!" But whether it is ballad, hymn, or martial song,
I feel the hearts of my boys and girls warming with a love for
the little men and women the wide world over and growing in
patriotism by learning of the "home-love" of other lands.


Obtain a number of maps of the different states and mount
them on stiff manila paper. Cut each mounted map into pieces
not smaller than an inch and one-half in size, and of different
shapes. Mix the cut pieces and give them to the children to build
different groups of the United States, Southern New England,
Central States, etc. Have each child write four facts about the
groups made. The maps may be obtained from old geographies,
railroad folders, or calendars. In large classes the children can
work in groups, each group making a different section and each
child writing facts about different states, as far as possible.


Taking imaginary travels as a means of teaching geography
has almost become a hackneyed subject, but the following plan,
suggested by the pupils themselves, proved very interesting. A
half-dozen pupils, all of the same nationality, laughingly pretended
they were going to the home. of their forefathers — Holland — at-
tired in the picturesque Holland fashion. On asking them how
they intended to get there, maps were immediately consulted, a
route was decided on, also the port where they expected to land.
Other pupils formed into groups according to their nationalities,
and looked up the route by which they could reach their Mother-
country. A friendly but spirited contest arose as to whose coun-
try had the most advantages. The card catalog of my library
books, which had taken up so many of my evenings to prepare,
and which up to the present time had been accorded anything but
a favorable reception by the children, was now in great demand,
as by this means the pupils could quickly find references to the
country they were planning to visit. We agreed to go about our


"make-believe" journey systematically, and I gave every child the
privilege of studying up his country whenever he knew his lessons.
The following are some of the points studied, and a glance will
show how much ground was covered:

What route must be taken?

How far must you travel before reaching the ocean?

About how long will it be before you reach your destination?

What will you do with your money so that you can use it in that

How much will your money then be worth?

Under what rule or government will you be!

Has the country an army and navy?

Discuss the manners, customs, and chief characteristics of the
people. The climate and productions as compared with the United

Then we agreed to write a book. Four nationalities were rep-
resented — Irish, Hollanders, German and English. The three
Irish pupils each wrote a chapter on "Ireland," and so on. Our
book was divided into four parts, one part for each nation repre-
sented. There were twenty pupils who were able to write suffi-
ciently well, so we had twenty chapters. All were rewritten by
our best penman and bound with the covers of an old book, which
were recovered with green leatherette, with a tiny flag pasted in
each corner to represent each nation. The book was added to
our library and both teacher and pupils are proud of it.


Our schoolroom had no globe and it was difficult to teach with
the help of maps only. We made clay balls four inches in diam-
eter, and while the clay was still soft we drew the equator,
meridians, and parallels on them with a sharp stick. When the
balls had hardened we painted white the lines left by the sticks.
I am sure that the members of that class will always know what is
meant by latitude and longitude. I used common road clay, as
the white lines showed up better on that than on modeling clay.



A SPELLING contest conducted on the order of a game of
baseball is the most successful device for reviewing spelling
that I can give. The school chooses sides as for ordinary
spelling contests. Let the best speller on each side act as "catcher, ' '
who "catches" all the words misspelled by the "batter." Another
pupil acts as "pitcher," and pronounces the words. Others act as
first, second, and third basemen. As the "batter" (from the
opposite side) comes up, a word is pronounced by the pitcher.
If it is spelled correctly, the batter proceeds to first base. If the
word is missed, the catcher spells it and another word is given to
the batter. If the third word is missed, and the catcher spells it
correctly, the batter is out and another takes his place. Proceed
as in baseball. Give only one trial for each word. As a batter
starts for a base, if there is already one at that base, the first one
there should move on to the next base. If the pitcher pronounces
a word to the baseman and he spells it before a batter gets to the
base, the batter is out. Three outs on each side make an inning,
and six innings make the game. If a batter succeeds in passing
all three bases and getting "home," a score is made for his side.
The teacher should act as umpire, calling outs and keeping score.


Young spellers are often unable to pronounce many words in
the spelling lesson. Just before the class begins to study the les-
son, place each word on the board in syllables, with accent and
diacritical marks, and pronounce it. The class write the words
and repeat them after you. After this ask each pupil to write
each word neatly five times and bring the work to class. Have
the pupils write every misspelled word five times on the black-
board, correctly. Keep a list of words missed by each pupil dur-
ing the month. In the spelling-down review at the close of the
month be sure to use these words.



To stimulate interest in spelling in our second grade we place
on the blackboard an attractive drawing in colors appropriate to
the season, as goldenrod for September, poinsettia for Christmas,
or bluebirds for April. Have the drawing made so as to leave
a space sufficient to place, one below the other, numbers corre-
sponding to the rows in the room. In oral spelling the pupils
spell in turn, a row at a time, and for each row in which no word
is misspelled a star is placed beside its number. Also a white
star is placed for each row in which every one receives one hun-
dred in the written spelling lesson. Thus a row may gain two
stars a day. For every five stars won, put in their stead a colored
star harmonizing in color with the colors in the drawing. The
goal of the contest may be fixed at five, six, ten, or whatever
number of stars in one's judgment seems best, the row which first
attains this fixed number being the winning row. To show what
subject the stars represent, letter neatly the word "Spelling" in
the panel and sometimes put above, "Who Will Win?"


My plan of teaching spelling is as follows
Assignment — ■

1. Time:

Just before the study period.

2. Consists of:

Teacher pronounces the words or the pupils sound them.

Pupils pronounce the words singly or in concert.

Pupils spell words singly or in concert.

Point out difficulties and show where they are likely to
make mistakes.

Explain meanings by using in sentences the words whose mean-
ings are not clear. Have members of class do this if they

Study Period —

1. Time:

Short but intensive period of study.

2. Method:

Do not allow the child to write the word more than once.


Recitation Proper —

1. Preliminaries:

Short drill on pronunciation, singly or in concert.
Short oral drill in spelling, singly or in concert.

2. Written Lesson:

Teacher pronounces the word, the pupils repeating it. Pupils
then write the word and look at the teacher.

3. Correcting Errors:

By teacher. (This is preferred in the lower grades because
it is economical of time.)

By pupils. (There are pedagogical reasons for this in the
upper grades, but two pitfalls must be avoided: careless-
ness and waste of time.)

Short oral drill after written lesson, with the emphasis on the
misspelled words. Spell around class and in concert.

The emphasis in the foregoing outline is placed on the assign-
ment and the recitation proper; but this does not signify that the
short period of intensive study is not important; it is a necessity.
The recitation proper occupies about fifteen minutes.


When I find a long word that has in it many other words, I ask
the pupils to see who can make the longest list of words from it.
This work is done "between times." Those pupils who can use
the most words they make in good sentences win especial credit.

Sometimes we "run a race" by seeing who can make the long-
est list in the shortest time.


Require each pupil while studying his spelling lesson to write
it neatly from one to three times and hand it in when he recites.
Every neat paper counts for a credit. Aside from insuring ex-
cellent lessons, this plan has the advantage of keeping the brighter
members of the class busy till class time. When a teacher has
many classes, often there is time to have only oral spelling, but
when the words have been written during study period it does
not matter so much. Sometimes send an especially neat paper
home to the parents, or post it on the wall.



To vary the routine of oral and written spelling lessons I let one
child "give out" the spelling. He stands in my usual place and
calls on several boys and as many girls successively, each child
spelling the whole lesson of twenty words. Another child at the
blackboard keeps tally, putting down a mark by the child's name
for every word or accent missed. At the close of the period the
score keeper counts up the number of words missed by boys and
those by girls. The children enjoy this thoroughly; their interest
and attention are held at keenest pitch, and woe be unto the child
who brings down the average of his side by a badly learned lesson,
for the scorn of his mates is upon him ! The positions of teacher
and score keeper are much coveted and can be obtained as special
rewards. During the recitation 1 sit quietly in the rear of the
room and am referred to only in cases of doubtful words.


To arouse enthusiasm, I say to the pupil at the head of the class,
"What is one word in the lesson?" That pupil names one, spells
it, and pronounces another word; the next pupil spells it, and so
on through the class, until all the words have been given or until
the pupils can think of no other words, after which the teacher
may pronounce the remainder of the words. Results are seldom
obtained from a dull class the first time this method is used, but
if they are told that this method will be used at the next recita-
tion they will generally be ready for it.


To teach words that pupils must use in written work in ele-
mentary subjects, I select from five to twelve words from some
lesson, as geography, music, reading, or drawing. The number
of words given depends largely on the grade. Place the list of
words on the board and have pupils study and use them in orig-
inal sentences, either oral or written. If they give oral sentences
one day, require written sentences the following day. It is as
important for a pupil to know the use and the meaning of a word
as it is for him to know the spelling of it. The use of the dic-
tionary may be begun in the last half of the third grade. I have
watched with interest how much more rapidly a child's vocabulary
increases after he has learned to use the dictionary.


In upper grades, stress may be put on the part of speech to
which a word belongs. If a noun, give its number and the man-
ner in which the plural is formed; if an adjective, compare; if a
verb, give the principal parts. In lower grades a verb may be
dramatized, and a noun illustrated.

If the words are placed on the blackboard at the beginning of
a session, a few minutes taken for the work just described will
be found very beneficial. Near the close of the school session I
pass papers for written spelling. I use the half-sheet letterhead
or composition-sized paper, with margin. The teacher may pro-
nounce the words and the pupils pronounce them after her. This
method assures correct pronunciation, which is quite necessary if
one has foreign children. The children write the words, placing
in the margin the capital initial letter of the word if the word
begins with a small letter, or a small initial letter if the word be-
gins with a capital. This shows the teacher that the pupils recog-
nize the fact that the given word begins either with or without a
capital letter, as the case may be, and that they also know the cor-
rect letter form.

In correcting, I do not accept a rewritten word, and I put much
stress on neatness and accuracy. For correct lessons I put colored
stars beside the pupils' names, written on the blackboard or in a
large classbook; then at the end of a term I give some small re-
ward to pupils having unusually good records.


Place a large drawing of a carpenter's tool chest on the black-
board, displaying some of the tools. Tell the pupils that when
they learn to use a new word correctly they have a new tool to
express thought. On each of the six to ten tools displayed print
a new word, dividing into syllables and showing the accent.

Have pupils spell them, hunt up meanings in the dictionary,
and use each word at least three times in recitation periods dur-
ing the day. They will enjoy the latter work if you set the ex-
ample by playfully weaving these words into your remarks when-
ever occasion offers. Place new words on the board every morn-
ing, and have thtm kept in small notebooks with markings and
definitions. If six words are learned every day, in a three months'
term each child will add three hundred sixty new words to his
vocabulary. Review every week and month. At the end of the
term give a prize to the pupil who can spell and define every word.



I find it a good plan to have the spelling lesson for the day
written upon the blackboard when the children arrive at school in
the morning, even though they have textbooks from which to study.
There is sometimes an odd moment when they can look at the
lesson without having to take the book from the desk and locate
the column assigned. I number the words. I can then refer to
them by number, if I do not wish to pronounce them. Fifteen
minutes before closing time at noon I ask that other work be laid
aside, and we look over the list of written words. First I call
for pronunciation of the words in concert. If articulation is poor,
now is the time to correct it. For example, final es must not be
pronounced as if it were written is. Careful articulation is al-
ways an aid in spelling. The words are then spelled in concert
from the board.

Next we study each word. Definitions are given, always by
the children when possible. When I think they can understand,
I give a derivation story. Afterwards, such questions as these
are used:

What does number eight mean?

Who can use number six in a sentence?

Who can use two of the words in sentences?

Can anyone give a sentence containing three words?

Can number three be spelled in a different way, having a differ-
ent meaning?

If anyone can think of another use of this word, please tell us
about it.

When the written spelling of the afternoon comes, the pupils
like to "give the words" themselves. Afterwards three or four
pupils are allowed to spell the entire lesson orally. They like to
do this, and it gives an added drill.

My pupils like to have me call for lists of words thus:

Write the names of at least ten objects you saw on your way to

Write names of household furniture; of store goods; of edible
vegetables; of sweets.

Sometimes we write the names of the pupils in a grade.



I find a good way to interest young pupils in spelling is to offer
a small prize to the one who will spell the most long, hard words
on Friday afternoon. Make suggestions, but do not give any help.
Let the big brother, sister, or parent select the words and do
the drilling. On Friday that big sister or brother will beam with
pride when the little speller proudly spells "a-1-a-b-a-s-t-i-n-e,"
or "i-n-t-e-r-n-a-t-i-o-n-a-1," or "c-o-s-m-o-p-o-l-i-t-a-n." Of
course these big words are not immediately useful, but they give
the children confidence in their spelling powers, and the interest
of the whole school will be so awakened that the older pupils will
plead to be allowed to try also. Then, too, mothers and even
fathers will be induced to come and hear the small spellers, and
as their co-operation is what we want most, our plan will have
served a double purpose.


Sometimes we "guess words." A pupil places upon the board
a word of which every other letter is omitted, as b-a-h (beach).
Three minutes are allowed for guessing, and a record is kept of
the number of words guessed by each pupil.


Often I give one page from the readers for spelling words. In
class time the pupils remember the words and pronounce them to
each other. They try to catch their friends with the long words.
Sometimes one pupil is given words by various pupils. The pu-
pil giving the word which catches the one who is spelling con-
tinues spelling until he misses.


I economize time, when we have written spelling, by conduct-
ing two or three spelling classes at one time. Each class is as-
signed a separate row of seats. Then, with the two or three
spellers before me, arranged in the same order as the classes, I
pronounce the words consecutively to the classes from their re-
spective lessons. Thus, while classes two and three are making
the diacritical markings, I give number one the next word.



Offer a prize for the most headmarks won during the term.
Draw number slips for places in class the first day. Assign long,
difficult lessons. When a word is misspelled, give no sign, sim-
ply give out the next word to the next pupil in class. He spells
this word, and then if he has noticed the misspelled word he
spells it, and passes ahead of the one who missed it. Any pupil,
when it comes his turn to spell, may spell correctly any misspelled
word or words that have not been caught, and go ahead of those
who have missed them. Sometimes a word will go almost the
length of a long class uncaught. This is a fine exercise to develop
the power of attention and memory.


Probably many schools use spelling booklets. We make ours
with just enough leaves in them for the month. The cover for
October was decorated with a bunch of grapes. There were six-
teen grapes in the bunch, as that is the number of lessons we were
to have. (Friday is review-day.) Each day of perfect lessons
a grape was colored. The perfect bunches were suspended by
photograph hangers on the wire just above the blackboard where
we hang such work. For November we used a basket of apples as
a decoration, coloring an apple for each perfect lesson. For De-
cember a blue wash was used on the art-paper cover, and small
stars were scattered over this sky, and made golden one at a time.


After the class has studied the spelling lesson, place the words
on the board in "pied" or irregular, form, thus: "orse" for
"rose," and let the pupils arrange the letters correctly.


My pupils grade their spelling papers themselves, deducting
five per cent for each word misspelled in twenty written words.
Each child's per cent is then placed on the blackboard and the
average per cent for the room is obtained. Each child thus sees
that his individual effort will either build up or pull down the
average for the room. The different rooms in a building may be
induced to see which can make the highest average each day.



After the spelling lesson is studied the books are closed (or the
words erased from the board). A child is chosen to come forward to
write a word from the spelling: lesson on a piece of paper, which
is placed on the teacher's desk. After he writes the word, he
calls upon some child to tell him the word he has written. The
child says, "Is it carried, c-a-r-r-i-e-d?" The child in the front
of the room says, "No, it is not carried, c-a-r-r-i-e-d." Then he
calls on another. The second child says "Is it supper, s-u-p-
p-e-r?" The child in front says, "Yes, it is supper, s-u-p-p-e-r."
Then the child who guessed correctly goes forward and writes a
word on the paper, and the game proceeds as before.


Give your school a series of short talks on the value of good
spelling. Conduct at different times thereafter a series of Spell-
ing Battles, between two armies headed by two captains. A ban-
ner for the winning army keeps up the interest. All soldiers who
miss a word are wounded, or hit by a cannon ball, and must be
seated until the battle is over. Then a doctor, appointed by the
teacher, goes over the battlefield, to find out who has recovered
(learned to spell the word he missed). Medicine (writing the
word carefully twenty-five to thirty times) is given to those who
fail to recover on schedule time.


Let the pupil who has the best spelling lesson hear the next
recitation of his class, using any plan he likes.


At the beginning of the term I cut pieces of cardboard the size
of post cards, and put a child's name in the center of each card.
Every time the child gets a perfect lesson in spelling I put a gold
star on the card. At the end of the term I write the date of the
term and my name on the back of the card and give it to the child
to take home. The children try to have their cards well covered
before the term is out, as they want a pretty one to show their



I distributed slips having one of the following words written
on each slip:













No child knew what was on any other slip besides his own. I
asked each one to write the word he found on his slip at the top
of his spelling blank page; then, for spelling words, to write the
names of six parts of the article whose name was on his slip, and
below this list of six words to write a story which included his six
words. At the recitation each child read his story and pronounced
his words for his mates to spell.


The leader takes position in the center of the floor with a spell-
ing book and a tin kettle cover (lid of school pail will do). He
spins the lid and instantly calls a player's name and the word he
wishes him to spell. If the player fails to spell the word cor-
rectly before the platter falls, he must take the leader's place and
the game proceeds as before. It is a good plan to allow one of
the bright pupils to copy on large pieces of paper the words each
grade has studied that week (or month if preferred). Thus the
leaders will be able to call out words appropriate to each pupil,
no matter what his grade.


At the beginning of the study period in spelling I pronounce
the words; each pupil writes them on scratch paper as I pro-
nounce. The words are then spelled, after which each pupil cor-
rects the words misspelled and finds the meaning of those which
are unfamiliar to him. During the recitation period I call on
different members of the class to dictate sentences, using from
memory a word or words given in the lesson. The pupil giving
the sentence rises, gives the sentence distinctly, then he and all
of the members of the class write his original sentence, being
careful of punctuation and capitalization as well as spelling.
Different members of the class are called upon until all of the
words in the lesson have been given in sentences and written by

Online LibraryGrace B. FaxonHow I did it. A helpful handbook for the teacher made up of devices, chosen for their originality and general usefulness, which will give variety to the schoolroom routine and add to the value and effectiveness of the teacher's work → online text (page 9 of 27)