I was talking to a friend of mine about Spelling Shed and she asked for my opinion and some tips on getting it all set up and working. I then thought that it might be useful to have a blog post so that if anyone else had similar questions, I could point them here instead.

This is Part 1 and will look at setting up Spelling Shed. The second part looks at how we use it day-to-day.

Disclaimer: I do not work for Spelling Shed and they have not asked me to write this. I have contacted them for permission to include screenshots. I have written this because I like the product.

I don’t want this to be a step-by-step guide per se, there are guides on the site for that, but some of the parts of the site may need explaining so I will try and do that as I go along.

The first thing that I would do is to upload some pupils. For this post, I am going to use some demo accounts.

The addition symbol lets you add users to the site.
Users can be added manually one at a time, but the easiest way is via the spreadsheet option.
Choose “Download Sample CSV file” and open it on your computer.
It will look like this.
Insert or copy and paste names into the document.

I have written about creating usernames for sites a few times here and here and it is a massive bugbear of mine. I want children to have to remember as few logins as possible so we have come up with a username system in school that we use across all sites.

Some sites let you have school-specific logins and others are site-specific meaning that you share available usernames with everyone else using the site. Spelling Shed is the latter. It is worth bearing this in mind when creating your usernames because if your logins for school were first initial and then surname e.g. John Smith becoming jsmith, this might work fine in your school with 100 users but when going onto a site such as Spelling Shed, jsmith will be taken so you might end up with jsmith325 or something. Not a big deal, but worth a few moments to think about.

In the example above, I have included the email addresses of the pupils. I use Google Apps/GSuite so the pupils have email addresses (although noone could contact them as we have settings in place). As far as I am aware, Spelling Shed doesn’t use the email addresses but I am adding just in case. Education City released an update that gave users the option of signing in with Google accounts rather than remembering usernames/passwords and it was nice to be able to have this available to our pupils. Maybe Spelling Shed will do similar one day, who knows.

The “reggroup” part is the name of their class. You can move them and swap them about later, it just helps to put them somewhere to get them started.

Save the spreadsheet and drag it onto the upload box.

When you go to the Pupils page of the dashboard, you will see all pupils in your school. As you type, it will search and show you the pupil you were looking for and you can see Mickey Mouse here. It shows his username, password and class too. If I click on details, it would show me which classes/groups he is in, his spelling data and any spelling lists I have assigned for him. As he is not real, there isn’t any data yet. I’ll include data in the second blog post.

These pupils are ready to go and use the site now if they wanted but I want to make some changes first.

If you have children at different levels, for whatever reason and need them to be in different spelling groups, you can assign that through the dashboard. It might be that I need to challenge some children or support others. Maybe there is a small group of children that are really struggling with a certain set of prefixes and I want to target them, whatever the reason it only takes a few seconds to setup. On the Dashboard, click on Groups, add a new group and then search for the pupils.

There is an “add” symbol next to the pupil box for this new group I have created. I am going to call it Disney2
Simply search and add the pupils in this group. Note: Mickey will be in Disneyland and Disney2 unless I remove him manually.

Now, when I come to set spelling lists or assignments, I have the option of this group as well as my main class.

My new group – this page shows the stats, teachers and pupils for Disney2

That’s the end of Part 1. Your children are all set-up and ready to go. Part 2 looks at managing the site now it is all setup.