THE SPELLING CENTRE - The First 200 Words has been used with great success in State, Catholic and Private schools across Australia since 2002.
Designed with the needs of struggling spellers firmly in mind, words are taught in meaningful context, but are also broken into their phoneme-grapheme 'chunks' and "sounded out".
Importantly, learners are never exposed to incorrect spellings, which can hinder visual assimilation of the correct letter sequence.
THE SPELLING CENTRE requires little or no supervision. Students learn at their own pace, and upon completing a 15 minute spelling lesson, learners are rewarded with a short arcade game (such as "Frog Splat!").
Teachers have the option to set their own word lists and can print progress reports.
Students' results are tracked, and our "Smart List" feature can allocate new words for each lesson automatically.
Our software is accompanied by an extensive PDF Manual including 80+ printable activity pages (BLMs).
(Adobe Shockwave is required.)
A Few Testimonials:
"The First 200 Words has all the components needed for developing children
as strategic spellers."
Julie Dunstan, Literacy Co-ordinator
"The Spelling Centre, the first
200 words is an excellent program for children learning the basics of spelling
and reading common sight words. …My tutoring students love it, so do my
five and three year old grand-daughters! Highly Recommended."
Janet Roberts, Tutor/Author/Consultant
"Congratulations on a fantastic
program! I will certainly be recommending it to other schools and parents. I
like the way sound combinations and rules are presented (eg: the Magic e, double
consonants, Silent e)
I think the animations are fun and entertaining - perfect for students with
limited attention spans - and the reward system is motivating and enjoyable.
The 'correction' of inaccurate responses is gentle and explanatory, which I
think is excellent, as it doesn't damage the sometimes already low self-esteem
of the students using the program."
Alanna Cullen, Speech Pathologist
"I have a student who is on
managed attendance and highly oppositional - the one activity he willingly completes
each day is The Spelling Centre. The fact he is engaging in a literacy task
and has continued to enjoy the program for approx a month is a huge success
story - for him, me as his teacher and your software."
M. Lawrance, SpEd (ASD/II)
"Overall, I like the look of
the program- not gimmicky but straight teaching."
"I've been using this with my
kids for a little while now and they love it. [My daughter]… will sit and
do the activities, she doesn't like to be interrupted. This was my reluctant
reader who could not sit still for 5 secs!!"
"A great program. It was visual
and alive. The letters in the words are sounded out and the words are broken
into phonic communicators. We liked that it mentioned language facts. It reinforces
the same words in each activity and uses spelling words in sentences after first
looking at them - good strategies! The students loved the games that broke it
up. Ideal for students with Speech Language Impairment, Learning Difficulties,
Autistic Spectrum Disorder or other communication/literacy problems."
Learning Support Staff, Calvary Christian College
"The spelling centre has enabled
me to improve my students spelling incredibly through targeting the students
specific spelling needs. Many of the students who were struggling in literacy
in general have made terrific gains in their reading and writing since I've
made the spelling centre a regular part of our daily routine."
Trevor Robinson, Grade 2 Coordinator
"THE SPELLING CENTRE - The First 200 Words" is designed for beginning and struggling spellers:
Early Primary P-3, Remedial 4-6, and LD/ESL/Special Needs
The programme aims to teach 200 commonly used words, develop spelling skills, knowledge and strategies for
learning words, and provide a foundation of spelling success for students to build upon.
For teachers beginning to use The First 200 Words...
Please click below and print out a copy of the basic instructions page, which includes how to set up your class.
1. The Spelling Centre - The first 200 words program uses the Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check method,
as well as a "concentration" activity to help students to learn the letter sequence visually.
2. Students are encouraged to explore how words are constructed. The spelling words are separated into "chunks"
consisting of common phoneme-grapheme combinations. This aids visual learning by developing students' ability to
perceive groups of letters within words. As each "chunk" is "sounded out", students' awareness of sound/symbol
relationships is increased. This leads to natural generalisations about spelling "rules", or the likelihood of
any given letter combination to represent a particular sound.
3. Beginning spellers are NEVER exposed to misspelled words, which can hinder assimilation of the correct letter sequence.
4. Words are placed in meaningful sentences. For optimum learning to take place word study needs to be engaging,
and should be set within the whole language context. Knowledge of words is of little value without both an
understanding of their purpose and a desire to use them.
5. The allocation of word lists and accessing of results is done using the Teacher Tools, which are separate
from the main program. Students need simply click over their name to begin a computer lesson, without any further
set-up or extra supervision required, freeing the teacher to teach. This also means that students are not presented
with screens containing great long lists of words that may be daunting, nor are they given a "score" once they have
completed the activities. Some students will thrive on The Spelling Centre's learning activities, as they do not
feel like a "test". Others may benefit from viewing their own results and this remains at the teacher's discretion.
6. The use of "letter buttons" or "chunks" on the screen in some activities, means that a student's learning is not
limited by the speed at which they can type.
7. For those students who need the most help with spelling, The Spelling Centre is designed to be non-threatening,
self paced and primed for success. Any words with which a student is having difficulties are not fruitlessly "tested"
at the end of their lesson.
8. The software was created from the experience of a computer game lover with a spelling difficulty - and it shows!
Students really enjoy using The Spelling Centre, and will play it voluntarily because of the choice of reward games
they receive when they complete the spelling activities.
9. Students' results for their last completed lesson, as well as their entire results history are accessible through
the Teacher Tools. This data is analysed to identify any word families that the student may need help with, and also
to recommend word lists and Black Line Masters to meet the student's needs.
10. The Spelling Centre program can really be a teacher time saver if you allow "Smart List" to allocate word lists
for your students automatically. "Smart List" keeps track of the words that each student can already spell, and at
the beginning of each lesson, will generate a word list tailored to meet the student's needs.
Four Modules of the Software:
1. The Spelling Centre - The First 200 Words (main program)
2. Drill Coach
3. Spelling Assessment
4. Teacher Tools
The Spelling Centre - The First 200 words
This is the main program which teaches a list of 10 words through a series of
five spelling activities. In activity one, students click on letter buttons
and "chunks" to build and 'sound out' each word. Activity two is very
similar, but this time the word is placed in a sentence context, illustrated
by a photograph. Activity three is a concentration game; match up all the word
pairs. Activity four uses Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check, students now type in the
words and a special extra help lesson is provided when needed. (So remember
to make deliberate spelling errors and take a look!) Activity five is a spelling
test, and following this the student is rewarded with a game of their choice.
This is a Look-Say-Cover-Write-Check program in which students can practise
a shuffled list of all 200 words, or just those that they have not yet learnt.
Words may be entered using the keyboard, or by clicking over the letter buttons
and "chunks" on the screen. Students are awarded a game credit each
time they accumulate 50 words spelt correctly.
This program gives a spelling test on all 200 words. It should be used under
test conditions, and is only recommended for students who are already fairly
confident spellers. Words may be tested in random order, or in order of easiest
to hardest words. Results are saved while students work towards game credits.
The 'Teacher Tools' are the user-friendly control centre for prescribing students'
word lists and accessing their results. This section of the program is pass
code protected (simply type "ACS") and includes several useful features.
The 'easy class set-up' allows teachers to input students names ready for class
use in minutes. There are Results and Analysis reports to pinpoint weaknesses
in a student's knowledge of word families and make recommendations of appropriate
Black Line Masters (which may then be printed from the PDF Manual).
There are three WORD LIST OPTIONS in The Spelling Centre.
1. The simplest option is to let Smart List take care of the word lists for
you. Smart List uses artificial intelligence to assign a word for a student,
according to their past results playing the program.
2. You can also use any of the 60+ ready-made lists in our Word List Library.
3. Or select specific words for a student (from the pool of 200).
All of this is done within the Teacher Tools section of the software.
Where did the 200 words come from?
There are several lists of commonly used words in use in Australian schools, and our list of 200 words is made up from several of these lists.
We included some tricky words for students who need more of a challenge, and added the words: please, thank and Australia, for the sake of good manners and patriotism!
Can I add my own words?
NO - You cannot add your own words to the software.
This would be impractical due to the extensive audio, visual and other data that we use, very effectively, to teach each of our 200 commonly used words.
If there is a specific word that you would like a student to practise, please check to see if there is another word among the 200 that is similar.
The future is online, and that is where THE SPELLING CENTRE is headed. We are developing a suite of web-based programmes, which will allow for ongoing improvements and ever expanding word lists.
The Spelling Centre MANUAL
Our software comes with a PDF Manual including more than 80 printable Black
Line Masters. You can access it from within the "Teacher Tools" section
of the software.
Hard-copy Folder Manuals are no longer available for purchase, but you can print any of the pages as required.
Additional BLMs are produced from time to time and are made available to all users of The Spelling Centre.
As well as the 80+ printable spelling activity pages (BLMs), this manual includes detailed notes on the software
(which you can use for PD), plus Word Lists, Certificates, and an Essay on Spelling.
THE SPELLING CENTRE - The First 200 Words is available to purchase on a school network licence for Windows and Mac OS, or USB Stick for home PC or laptop (currently Windows only).
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