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American Educator
Winter 2008-2009

 

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Notebook

How Words Cast Their Spell (PDF)
Spelling Is an Integral Part of Learning the Language, Not a Matter of Memorization
By R. Malatesha Joshi, Rebecca Treiman, Suzanne Carreker, and Louisa C. Moats

To those who haven't had the benefit of language-based spelling instruction, English spelling seems terribly confusing—so many sounds with multiple spellings (e.g., eight and ate) and so many spellings with multiple sounds (e.g., the ch in church and chorus). It's no wonder that spelling instruction often focuses on memorization, with flashcards and weekly quizzes. But researchers have found that there is a better way. By emphasizing the sound-letter correspondences and then adding in some history of the language, spelling instruction becomes more effective—and improves students' reading and writing too.

The Real Magic of Spelling: Improving Reading and Writing (PDF)

Teaching Spelling (PDF)
These Language-Based Programs Provide the Grade-by-Grade, Well-Sequenced Instruction That Students Need

Ask the Cognitive Scientist (PDF)
What Will Improve a Student's Memory?
By Daniel T. Willingham

Since the primary focus of school is learning new knowledge and skills, wouldn't it make sense for students to know how memory works? With this column and related demonstration lessons, teachers can show their students how to commit things to memory, avoid forgetting, and judge when they've studied enough.

Classroom Demonstrations of the Three Principles of Memory (PDF)

The Burden and Beauty of the Humanities (PDF)
By Wilfred M. McClay

Why do we need the humanities? To understand ourselves and the world around us in human terms. And what do the humanities need from us? The courage to defend their value.

A longer version of this article is available here.

Why Teach Labor History? (PDF)
By James Green

Union members have played a significant role in democratizing America and humanizing the workplace. From pushing for mine safety laws and workers' compensation to helping raise the minimum wage, the labor movement has been—and continues to be—a positive force for change. The Web sites highlighted here will help your students learn of labor's accomplishments.

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About American Educator

American Educator is a quarterly journal of educational research and ideas published by the American Federation of Teachers. Recent articles have focused on such topics as reducing the achievement gap between poor and affluent students, heading off student discipline problems, teaching an appreciation and understanding of democracy, the benefits of a common coherent curriculum, and other issues affecting children and education here and abroad. Total circulation, as of our most recent issue, is over 900,000.

 
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