Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development


For several decades, in schools across the United States, spelling instruction has been and continues to be a fundamental component of the English Language Arts curriculum in the primary and intermediate grades. Many administrators, teachers, and parents support spelling instruction, claiming that it improves student's reading and writing performance. Other interested stakeholders (including administrators, teachers, and parents) agree that spelling instruction has become a staple of the American education system because it encourages a home-school connection. This means that teachers send home weekly spelling study guides and worksheets for parents and/or guardians to help their children with in order to perform well on Friday's spelling test. At the onset of the 2008-2009 school year, Oatka Creek Elementary School took on the Rigby: Literacy by Design English Language Arts program for students in Kindergarten-Grade Five. Although this research-based program includes reading and writing instruction, I plan to concentrate on the spelling resources and instruction designed for first-grade general education students. During my substitute teaching experiences in first-grade classrooms at Oatka Creek

Elementary School, I noticed a possible disconnect between the spelling words that first-grade students are taught and assessed on each week and their abilities to accurately use these words in their daily writing. Students intensely study a given list of words for a week, but when given a written assignment or working on daily writing, students experience difficulty spelling the words correctly, using the words appropriately in context, or students may exclude the words altogether. It seems that the spelling instruction practices outlined in the Literacy by Design program neglects one of the key reasons why students learn how to spell: to improve their writing. The purpose of this research is to investigate whether the Literacy by Design spelling instruction and strategies are effective practices toward the improvement of first-grade students' writing. The goal is to determine how these methods may be tailored to support the spelling and writing needs of all students in a first-grade classroom.