Writing is one of a number of cognitive tools that people have developed. It extends the range over which people can communicate, circumventing some of the limitations of spoken language. In order to write well, children must master the orthographic system of their language. Tools such as spell-checkers, although helpful, do not substitute for such mastery. Learning to spell is harder than learning to read, and many questions have arisen about how spelling should be taught. Two main teaching methods are discussed in this chapter: discovery learning, as in whole-language teaching, and direct instruction, as in phonics. The chapter ends by discussing the approach that is taken in the remainder of the book. One aspect of that approach is a focus on spelling development as it occurs across children in a society rather than on differences among children in spelling ability or on children with dyslexia or other learning disabilities.
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