Case study: Spelling Beats

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Making spelling fun through rhythm and rhyme

Years of struggling at spelling made one of my students feel like she was stupid. After using Spelling Beats, she is no longer a shy, unconfident pupil and she’s now working above age related standards in writing.

Michelle Lockwood Creator of Spelling Beats

The big idea

To build an online game to make spelling engaging for low-achieving disadvantaged children as they move from primary to secondary school.

Why it’s needed

Michelle Lockwood, an English teacher at St Bernard’s secondary school in Rotherham,  finds that many of the disadvantaged children she teaches arrive at secondary school with extremely poor spelling skills.

Michelle has tried to help them keep up but she’s found it difficult because many of her students are often bored by the same old teaching styles. When she has talked to other teachers about it, she’s found that they face this problem too. So she decided to think big and create the solution.

How it works

Michelle’s students love music and with a passion for music herself, she realised that teaching spelling could be so much more engaging – if only she could use rap, rhythm and funk. Many of her pupils spend a lot of time online, so she set out to create an interactive game that would be fun to use in and out of the classroom. Michelle got in touch with a games developer and a graphic designer, and they soon created Spelling Beats. The website allows students to create their own DJ avatar, learn a series of raps addressing all the core spelling rules, repeat them, and record them so they can hear themselves as a rapper. Children have fun learning spelling rules through repetition. It also saves teachers time because Spelling Beats includes tutorials and a number of different activities, so they can develop clear plans to use in the classroom.

The impact

Michelle has already noticed a significant difference in students’ spelling since introducing Spelling Beats.

  • From very low starting points, 100% of Michelle’s students from disadvantaged backgrounds achieved their end-of-year targets in spelling, grammar and writing.
  • Children have reported feeling more confident with their writing, and they have been able to apply these new skills to other subject areas too.
  • Michelle will soon be sharing Spelling Beats with schools across Rotherham.