This is the second part of my guide to using Spelling Shed. The first post looked at creating users and can be found here.

In this post, I will talk through using the Spelling Scheme, setting up Assignments, creating a Hive Game and accessing pupil data.

Spelling Scheme

The stages relate to year groups

Spelling Shed comes with a full spelling scheme and activities for each spelling pattern. For each year group, there are 40 sets of activities which should last across the year. My school purchased a spelling scheme a few years ago that was all paper-based and cost around the same as 2 years of Spelling Shed so to have one included in the annual cost is quite handy.

The first 6 weeks of Y3

As you can see from the picture above, each week explains the spelling rule that needs to be taught. There are also some weeks for “Challenge words”. These could be high frequency words or words from the Y3/4 or Y5/6 spelling lists.

It is worth pointing out that there is no need to follow this week by week, you can pick and choose the order the spellings are covered. There is also a PDF and a Powerpoint for each year group.

Each spelling rule comes with an example lesson plan.
There is also a list of 10 words that can be used in a “Look, Cover, Write, Check” way
An example activity

A snip of a crossword activity

There is always at least 1 activity to support the spelling rule. These include scrambled words, word searches and crossword. They vary each week and if you don’t like them, don’t use them, some are better than others but it is good to see a variety. I tend to introduce the spellings on day 1 and discuss the meanings. We practise saying them, spelling them and putting them into sentences verbally. On day 2 we will usually start with some Look, Cover, Write, Check work and a Spelling Shed activity. Day 3 will usually include time to play the online games and then Day 4 is a dictation¬†exercise and/or Hive game. Throughout the week, I will support children as required depending on their need.

Assignments

I mentioned that I get children to play the online games for their spelling rule. This requires me to set it up for them first. I usually do this as an Assignment.

On the Dashboard, click Assignments and then add.

The assignment screen

Firstly, give it a name. I usually just call it the name of the spelling rule for that week. You can then choose when it is available from and to. This is very useful as you can set these to turn on or off throughout the term. For example, I know all of my spelling rules for this half term, so I have setup every assignment until the next holiday. They will magically switch on each Friday and the children will have them ready to play over the weekend and the following week.

Then you can choose a spelling list or from a scheme. For now, I am choosing a pre-made list from the scheme. Choose one from the drop-down menu.

I then usually put 5 in the last box. This is how many times the children should play the game. Some will play want to more, some will not reach that but it’s the target for the week. I then Save it.

Adding pupils to an Assignment

Once it is saved, the pupil box comes up. You can then choose which groups or pupils will see this assignment. If you have setup your groups (shown in the previous post) then this just means selecting everyone and voila. If not, tick the children that need to see this and then close the window. They will now see this assignment when they login – see below.

You can see 0/5 as he has not played any of this game yet.

Hive Games

At the end of the week, my class play a Hive Game. This is a game where they all play against each other in real time. To set this up, click Hive Game from the Dashboard.

Choose your spelling list from the scheme and press Play

There are a few options before the game is created.

The first is difficulty and there are four levels to choose from.

Easy: The word is shown, the children then spell it using just the letters from the word.

Medium: The children just see the letters from the word.

Hard: The children see the letters from the word, plus some others.

Extreme: There is a QWERTY keyboard for them to use.

We tend to go for Extreme as this is a better indicator of whether the children can spell the words or not.

You can then choose to shuffle the words or not, I always do this just in case they have learnt them in order.

I must stress that although this is like a spelling test, I am obviously also looking for the children to use these spellings in their writing throughout the week and beyond. If they score badly, that’s fine. We focus on trying to push themselves, to remember what they have learnt and to try their best.

When ready, press Create.

The site generates a code to share with the pupils
The pupils then type the code in on their screen
A list of all participants

Once the class are all signed in, click Start Game and it will begin. The game says the word out loud (headphones are useful) and then they type it in. I tend to freeze my whiteboard during a Hive Game as after each word, it will show you the points awarded for the word plus a league table of all the words so far. This inevitably leads to some children being at the bottom. They already know they have only scored 4/10 as it says so on their computer, they don’t necessarily need this up on the whiteboard too.

Hive Games have really improved the enthusiasm for spelling in my class and apart from 1 or 2 children, most love them and ask if we can play more games.

Results from a Hive Game

Afterwards, you will want to analyse the results. Clicking details on an assignment page gives you this sort of screen. I can clearly see which spellings were correct or incorrect and which children still have some work to do.

Spelling Lists

If you want to venture away from the schemes, you can create your own lists too. This could be for a list of words related to a topic or it could be words for a specific child that has struggled (as the picture above shows)

On the dashboard, look for Spelling Lists and add a new list. Put the words in and give the list a name. This can then be assigned to the children as an Assignment or given to them as a Hive Game. Remember that lists can be given to a whole group of children or to one individual too.

Stats

As the children play the games and earn points, they will see the stats change and the leaderboards update. I am writing this during the Christmas holidays and the children have obviously had a break as it is showing no access during the past 7 days so our leaderboards have all reset to zero.

I know it is on the road map, but I would like a Times Table Rockstars level of stat reporting e.g. over the past 30 days or letting teachers choose what data they want to find so year groups or classes can challenge each other. It will come one day I’m sure.

I will update this bit when we are back at school to show how the leaderboards look when children have been using the site.

You are shown how many games have been played over a certain period

And that’s about it. Create some users, put them into groups and assign them spellings. That’s all there is to it. I hope that these posts have been useful. If you have any questions, please do contact me or comment below and I will do my best to answer them.