Convince me on dictation or AAS

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  • pangit

    Convince me on which I should use, dictation or All About Spelling.  Which do you prefer and why?

    My DD is 10 and 4th grade.  She has dyslexia and reads on a 1st grade level. She is gong to a reading class at the local school everyday this year and I have seen improvement.  We have used All About Spelling level 1 and 2.  This year I decided not to do any spelling.  I wanted her to put her efforts towards reading.  I figure if she can’t read the word that she is trying to spell it is going to be a whole lot harder to know if it is spelled correctly.  She worked her way through AAS levels 1 and 2, but like most of her subjects, she learns it, shows that she knows it and then promptly forgets it.  She can not spell most of the words learned in those 2 levels anymore.  My plan was to start back at level 1 with her and really try to get those words down.  She loves to write (as long as I don’t ask her to) and is spelling everything wrong.  I’m afraid that she is memorizing wrong spellings at this point.  So, would transcription and dictation work better for her or AAS?  I’m really at a lose of where to go and feel like I am hindering her from moving forward ’cause I don’t know what to do.

    Also, DD8 is in the 2nd grade.  She excels at most everything.  She is working on All About Spelling level 3 this year.  She grasps things very quickly.  In fact, she already spells most if not all of the words correctly the first time they are presented each week.  Today we started a new lesson.  One of the spelling words was presented earlier in the lesson to teach the concept.  She had to think through the “oi” sound but figured it out.  Then when we spelled the 10 spelling words with letter tiles at the end of the lesson she spelled them all correctly.  Is there a point in doing AAS with her or would she benefit more from dictation?  We started AAS because it is said that it works well for those who struggle to read and can even help them get a grasp on reading.  I can’t say it has worked for us.

    I do like the idea that dictation could be handwriting practice and writing practice.

    Help me know where to go.  What would you do?  I’m tired of trying different things to help DD10 and feeling like none work.  And, DD8 gets pulled through them too and I don’t want to do something just to do it that she doesn’t really need.




    I have dyslexic kiddos too.  Our 8 year old was formally diagnosed and he receives special Orton Gillingham tutoring 2 days per week.  Our 10 year old shows signs of dyslexia, but she has not been formally tested.  Dictation does not work unless the words, phrases, or sentences follow the rules already taught.  Just pulling random sentences from a reading passage will only frustrate and discourage the child. 


    I am using AAS with the 10 year old and it’s slow going.  She actually reads at a post high school level, but is an absolute terrible speller.  She transposes letters and numbers.  She’s very inconsistent, especially with copywork.  Today in her science narration, she wrote “nectot” in one sentence and then spelled “nectar” correctly in the next.  She is not sloppy or lazy, she really has a learning glitch.  For math, she will tell me the answer is “5” and then turn around and write “8”.  She knows it’s wrong and sometimes will erase and rewrite “8” again, and again, and again….  It’s just like her brain gets stuck and she can’t go forward.  My heart breaks becauses she has such a sweet spirit, but writing and spelling are just so hard for her 🙁


    I’m not sure how much you know about dyslexia, but the Orton-Gillingham method is the absolute best method for teaching dyslexics.  It’s very important to present information in a multi sensory way!  I think this is part of why there’s success with the AAS letter tiles.  It’s the kinesthetic motion of moving the tiles that helps solidify the words in the brain.  In tutoring, our son writes letters and words in a sand tray, shaving cream, with magnetic letters, on a dry erase board, etc.  He seems to do better writing with an ink pen rather than pencil.  There’s something about the feel on the paper.  He’s learned a method called COPS when writing.  For example, he’s able to do some very simple dictation based on words that he’s learned.  Let’s say, “Ben got a big fish at the pond.”  He writes it on paper while saying and sounding out what he’s writing.  Then we send in the COPS to check it.  “C” is to check for capitalization.  “O” is overall appearance.  (spacing, height of letters, etc.) “P” is punctuation.  “S” is spelling.  He then crosses out any errors and rewrites it correctly.  Again, he must say outloud the sounds he is writing. 


    Copywork can be painful for him.  Although, I love the idea.  He’s just starting with very short passages and he’s not able to copy directly from the book.  I need to write or type it out for him.  Too much on a page gets very confusing. 


    There is some really good information here regarding dyslexia….



    Also Denise Eide, author of Logic of English, has free videos that are very helpful…



    I really didn’t see anything with spelling click until this year with AAS Level 3.  I’m undecided if we’re going to stick with AAS next year or switch to Logic of English.  I think they’re both great programs.  But, I sometimes wonder if AAS is a bit too slow?


    Anyway, hope this helps. If you really want to try dication, stick with the AAS passages and hold off on the random sentences. 





    I suspect Delta is dyslexic (quite sure, but he hasn’t been tested.)  I think he reads at about a grade 3-4 level (it varies so much depending on what test he is given….)   At this time last year I was disparing of him spelling… he wanted to write but couldn’t spell the simplest 3 letter words.  And there was no rhyme or reason to it.   I have finally seen an example (for an older student) of the wierd type of spelling –  for most kids you expect a phonetic type of misspelling, or I suppose for visualization something that would look similar.  His spelling looked more like random letters… and this was after trying a couple of “programs”…   So the word might be ice and he would come up with lwe  – I can’t even duplicate it.

    Anyway, what is working for us IS All About Spelling – but I’m using ANKI flashcard “Spaced Repition System” to review the words and rules instead of the AAS cards.  This has him review words when the algorithm figures he needs to – including “mastered” words.  It has made a huge difference, even though he is only partway through Level 2.   He doesn’t write a lot on his own still – but he is getting words right a lot more, and has even given his siblings help on spelling words….


    I agree that the OG rules of AAS work in this situation, but slowly, unless you tweak it.  Doing more than one, or the same AAS lesson each day has shown to help at our house.  Dictation gives added practice, but I’ve really only seen the benefits of dictation after about 10 years old, so your DD would just be at the beginning of what I’d think would be a good starting point for dictation lessons.  I talk my kids through this process for quite a while if they are still struggling with dictation.  Mainly, I’m modeling the questions out loud that should eventually go through their brains.  Syllabication, sounds, options, that sort of thing.

    I really like the COPS idea!  I’m going to start using it!  We go over this, but that would be a much shorter way to remember it.  Reminds me of our GOAL questions during Bible study.  Wink

    I’ve seen and agree with CM that spelling should be started after children are reading well.  I’m not saying it shouldn’t be pursued, just that you may not see as much fruit as you’d like until much later. 


    If AAS is working for every one else, why do I feel like we are failing with it?  How does a day of spelling go with you?  A week of spelling?  How often to you review words from previous lessons?  How do you review them?

    A typical week for us is like this (right now just DD8 who has no problem finishing a lesson in a week):

    Monday: Go over new lesson as written in AAS teachers manual.  Review last weeks new cards.  Spell new words with tiles.

    Tuesday: Spell new words with tiles, reviewing any new teaching as needed.  Review any new cards and last weeks cards. Spell several dictation sentences.  Do several words from the Word Station.

    Wednesday: If all new spelling words have been spelled correctly on previous days, do new spelling words on paper.  Review any new cards and last weeks cards.  Spell several dictation sentences.  Do several words from the Word Station.

    Thursday: If all new spelling words have been spelled correctly on previous days, do new spelling words on paper.  If all spelling words were spelled correctly on paper yesterday, we skip it today.  Review any new cards and last weeks cards.  Spell several dictation sentences.  Do several words from the Word Station.

    How would I change that up to make it work for DD10?  How do you review to help them to stick without just having a pile of things to do every day?

    Should I continue to wait on spelling for her until her reading is better?  How long do I wait?  With all of her writing on her own that she does, isn’t she just memorizing bad spelling?  She likes to write letters (of which I’m embarrassed to mail ’cause I hope her friend can read them and doesn’t think she is dumb), stories, and just stuff (as long as I don’t ask her to!).

    Thank you for your thoughts and time!


    Well, we are only in Level 2, so we don’t have word station or anything like that….  and mine isn’t setup according to the days of the week…. but here is our basic schedule…. 

    I set a timer for 15 minutes.  We are also often working on 2 steps at a time….. but take a while on each step…

    Aprox first 5 minutes – If they have anything to write on paper we do some of that.  This would either be the new words on paper, or phrases or sentences.  If new words, we do all 10.  If phrases or sentences, we generally do 3 but sometimes the student wants to do all 6.

    About 5 minutes (more if there wasn’t any write on paper items, or if we have a lot to review. May be less if only a few reviews in the list.)  Spelling the review words with tiles. As I said, I use ANKI to determine what we need to study – so this will include newer words as well as a few of the “mastered” words….  some of the mastered words may only come up after 6 months or some will be over a year old now….  I really think using ANKI makes a huge difference for us.    Also, if we are at ‘spelling with tiles’ with the new words, this will be included.

    About 5 minutes (but sometimes no time… depends on how long the previous 2 items took, or where we are in this lesson.)  New instruction….  So if we are still doing phrases or sentences on one step – we will now start learning the ideas from the next step.

    I don’t care how long a step takes us to finish…. it is based on how the student is getting it.   

    When the 15 minute timer goes off, we leave where we are and start it the next day.

    Oh, most Fridays (which tend to be light days here) my kids do a spelling bee with words taken from their Extra words sections…  again I use ANKI to bring these up (but for that ANKI deck it is setup to sort them randomly and mix new cards with review cards…)


    @suzukimom.  I haven’t used ANKI.  Does it work in a format similar to SCM’s Scripture memory set up?  Daily, weekly, day of the month, etc.?  I think this would be a huge improvement for us.

    @pangit.  I stay on a lesson much longer.  I don’t assume they’ve mastered it just because they get the words correct.  I have them do the tiles with the list, next day write (note missed words,) next day tiles again, next day write.  Review, review, review all cards.  I’m not satisfied with putting the card behind the mastered divider until they have a sound/rule correct immediately three times in a row.  I know.  That’s not how it’s spelled out in the directions.  It’s just what I realized from older siblings using other resources during years gone by.  I need real proof! 

    As written, just turn the page as soon as the answer is right, isn’t how I’m using it.  I’m a readiness freak.  I go overboard in waiting with my younger children, most likely.  But, I rushed our older ones to their detriment.  They went through the pages, books, assignments, but didn’t necessarily master the material.  I’m no longer concerned with a grade level label with our younger ones.  I’m want to know that they know what they know…..not that they’ve gone through a course/curriculum.

    Make sense?  You may not be doing anything wrong.  You may just need to tweak, wait, or go over lessons several times before moving on.  This ANKI suggestion and the Spelling City suggestion from other recent spelling threads might bring more opportunities to learn in different formats.  You just never know what it will take for each child. 

    Have courage! 


    DING!  spaced repitition system.  Catching up. 

    Betty Dickerson

    I am in the same situation with my 10yod. She has dyslexia and really struggles with reading and math. She is probably 2nd grade level in both. I would strongly recommend that you drop AAS and do AAR instead. I spent a lot of time at the All About Learning Forums and this is what was suggested to me, and they were spot on. When they are comfortable with reading fluently then add spelling and dictation. But reading must come first. We have been working through AAR 2 this year (skipped level 1 after taking the placement test) and her reading really is coming along. Spelling/dictation requires different skills that come after they have tackled reading. I plan on continuing next year with AAR3 and add AAS 2 or 3, Lord willing. I also have her read aloud to me for 15-20 min a day and that is really helpful.

    Betty Dickerson

    I would also not address everything she writes, correcting her spelling. Too much at once. But do have her do copy work, my 10yod still traces at times. That way she is seeing the correct spelling. Maybe have her write a story or a letter to a friend once a week and you help her with the spelling, but otherwise one skill at a time or either you will be having to spell every word she wants to write all day (ask me how I know) or you can just let her enjoy the process of writing and getting thoughts down on paper for now and address spelling once in a while till you start working on spelling. Hope this is helpful.


    I agree that you may need to use AAR for a while to get reading going better.

    ANKI determines when you are likely going to need to review something based on a few things. Basically how long since you past reviewed it, how easily you answered it, how easy the card has been in the past, and any modifications you have set.

    If you get it wrong, then you go into a relearn mode, then continue with a shorter review time….

    I have made cards for the first two levels of AAR. ANKI does have a bit of a learning curve to it.


    The schedule I showed you is with my DD8 who usually spells everything correctly the 1st time.  I’ve been trying to figure out how to tweak it for DD10.  How do you know that they’ve really matered the word?  Thanks for your schedules, it will help me in figuring out what to do for her.

    I have been holding off on spelling this year because of her reading.  When do I start spelling?  I was thinking about doing AAR this year, but we are taking her down to the local school and she is getting reading instruction from them.  I have seen improvements since starting there.  I think it has helped her to have someone other than me doing the reading with her.

    anabetica – I know what you mean about being asked how to spell every single word!!  Sometimes when she wants to make sure she spells things correctly it drives me nuts!!  It is like a spelling B for me while I’m trying to get dinner made.

    Is ANKI an ipad app?  I looked it up in the app store and there are a couple of apps with ANKI in the name.  They appear to be from Japan.  Am I looking at the right thing?  There are several different prices.  I think one is free, one $1.99 up to $9.99.


    I think you would look for ANKISRS… not sure.

    It is on the computer, android, or on the web for free. The ipad version is the only one with a cost and is expensive… $25 I think. I don’t have an ipad so that doesn’t bug me… I forget the reason it is expensive. Bugt you can just use the computer, and the web version.

    If you search for anki srs you should find the site with all the info.

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