Initially in setting up this research, the goal was to compare the scores that the children received in the lab on the spelling software program with the weekly spelling test results that were achieved in the classroom. I had an idea that the computer practice would elevate the scores in the classroom and prove without a doubt that special education students who were having difficulty with spelling and memorization were learning the weekly spelling words.


Each week I would type in 20 words from the classroom spelling list (Harcourt & Brace book) and divide them into two lists; A and B. The students would come into the lab for one thirty minute period a day, four days a week. They would practice list A for 2 days and list B for 2 days. Students came from two different fourth grade classrooms. In one classroom the classroom test for two students (A & B) consisted of them circling the correct word from a group of four where three were spelled incorrectly spelled and one was correct. Two students (C & D) wrote the spelling word and the rest of the class wrote dictated sentences that included the spelling words. In the other classroom, students E&F wrote the words.


  • Unit spelling words which the software did not accept (two letter words, holidays with capitals, abbreviations with a period are some of them)
  • Number of activities completed (students like to do some of them over and over)
  • Absenteeism of student
  • Number of times in lab (often dependent upon classroom schedule)
  • Testing/Marking style in classroom. Sometimes the classroom teachers used percentages, sometimes they used a rubric (1-4) and sometimes they gave extra marks for capitalizing, some grammar marks, etc.
  • Time of day in lab. Usually right after lunch recess but rest of class had DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read)
  • Student Disability type


Student A – Lab Score 90.76, Class Score 87.07
Student B – Lab Score 95, Class Score 85
Student C – Lab Score 94.33, Class Score 71.86
Student D – Lab Score 94.57, Class Score 73.38
Student E – Lab Score 94.03, Class Score 78.78
Student F – Lab Score 85.88, Class Score 87.89

Despite other factors, it is obvious that all of the students did improve and none of them received failing grades for the year. It is clear that repeated practice in a multitude of ways, some that the students perceive as fun, is an important element in student learning.

Alice A. Walker
Special Education Dept.
Anne T. Dunphy School
Williamsburg, MA