Not Just Playing With Clay: Symbol Mastery for Spelling and Word Comprehension

By Patricia Carson and Reesa Sorin.

Published by The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: October 31, 2016 $US5.00

A number of students experience difficulty with the retention and recognition of basic spelling words. These students, who are often dyslexic and/or three-dimensional visual thinkers (3DVT), are usually taught spelling through mainstream pedagogical practices, such as phonics and rote learning—practices that are generally unsuccessful with this group. Symbol mastery is a process where students work with clay to create a visual interpretation of a word’s meaning and then connect it to the word’s spelling and pronunciation. Davis proposed that the process of discovering what a word means and creating an image of the word three-dimensionally, would not only give ownership of the process to students, but would also be a vehicle through which they could master spelling words. This article is based on a small qualitative case study research project where the symbol mastery program was trialed with four dyslexic students in one-to-one tutorial sessions after completing a specialized program. Data were gathered through pre- and post-program interviews with students and parents, researcher observations, artifact collection, as well as pre- and post-tutoring spelling tests. The results showed that the program helped with improving spelling scores and increased confidence and willingness to attempt to spell words.

Keywords: Dyslexia, Spelling, Creativity

The International Journal of Learner Diversity and Identities, Volume 24, Issue 1, March 2017, pp.17-27. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: October 31, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 340.773KB)).

Patricia Carson

Doctoral Candidate, College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Assoc. Prof. Reesa Sorin

Associate Professor, Education, College of Arts, Society and Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia