This is the second article to be discussed in the Primary Teachers’ Journal Club. Please read the article (you can download it through the link below), and have a think about the discussion questions. You are invited to share any thoughts you have about the article in the comments below; responding directly to the questions is optional. Please keep comments constructive and within the guidelines of graceful disagreement, if disagreement occurs–as it might! A synchronous discussion about the article will be held for an hour on Twitter on Thursday, 30 April, at 7 pm Vic/NSW/Qld time, using the hashtag #pritjc and the questions as discussion points. It is hoped that a new article and questions will be posted by the second week of each month, with a synchronous chat held on the last Thursday evening of each month, except December.

The teaching of spelling is “often guided by tradition rather than by current research” (Apel et al., 2004a, p. 297). This article, ‘What should teachers know about spelling?’ outlines the research literature regarding the knowledge about spelling and learning to spell that teachers of literacy require to effectively teach spelling, including morphological, orthographical, etymological, visual and phonological and graphological knowledge. This summary is followed by the description of an exploratory study into the knowledge for and experiences of teaching spelling by a small sample of beginning teachers(N = 14). The article concludes with a description of the changes implemented in an existing teacher education program to improve the knowledge of pre-service and beginning teachers about spelling and their skills for planning for effective teaching and learning of spelling.


Adoniou M. (2014), What should teachers know about spelling?, Literacy, 48, 144–154, doi: 10.1111/lit.12017


This article describes essential teacher knowledge for teaching spelling, along with a description of how this knowledge may convert to effective classroom pedagogy. The article is the result of a study of 14 beginning teachers who were participants in a broader study of their experience of teaching literacy in the first year in the classroom after graduation. The broad aim of the study was to determine if there were changes that could be made to their teacher preparation that would better prepare them to teach literacy in their first year teaching in the classroom. Teaching spelling was quickly identified as an area of literacy in which they were struggling. They were nervous about their own spelling skills but also had a limited pedagogy for spelling. The article describes the spelling knowledge they needed to have, with reference to the challenges they faced and presents the changes that were subsequently made to the teacher preparation of future teachers at the university from which they graduated.


11 pages, including references

Download this article

Questions to consider:

  1. As teachers, we have to make professional decisions about how to use our limited resources effectively, including our own time and energy. As such we have to prioritise classroom activities. Is spelling a priority in your classroom? Why or why not?
  2. This article begins by outlining two fundamental understandings about spelling that Adoniou has identified from the literature: that spelling is learned, and that it is underpinned by a set of linguistic systems for spelling. She argues that spelling is “an integral component to reading and writing.” How might someone’s skill at spelling affect their ability to make meaning from and with texts?
  3. As teachers, we are always learning new ideas and developing our skills for teaching. How could you improve your classroom spelling program?
  4. How important is it that all teachers within a school use the same spelling program?
  5. The findings of this study served as feedback to improve a pre-service teacher education course in literacy. What would you have liked to learn about spelling in your pre-service program, or learned since?