When I first saw the Sequential Spelling technique demonstrated, I couldn’t believe what I saw with my own eyes. I watched Don McCabe take a woman who had to struggle to even put the letters s-a-d-r on paper when asked to spell the word scattered, and get her to spell that word correctly the next time he asked her to spell it.
At first, I felt like I was watching a magic show, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that what Don McCabe was doing made perfect sense. He was letting the woman discover for herself the phonics of our language by letting her learn from her mistakes the moment she made them. And all the time he was building her confidence using one of the oldest and best teaching gimmicks of all time -- praise.
The other aspect of his technique that appealed to me then and still does now, is that he quickly builds from a little sound such as “at” to interesting words or colorful words such as brat to powerful words such as flattery. The adult knows that the spelling words are not just for little children. Little children wouldn’t get words like these to spell in their spelling books. That’s for sure.
The best part of the entire program, as I see it, is the way the adult learners self-confidence is dramatically built. You should see the look in the eyes of adults when they discover that they can spell a word they don’t even recall ever having seen, but they know they have spelled it right because they know how to spell the sounds in the word.
Faye Lapp, Director
Tuscola County Literacy Volunteers,