The Whiteboard Spelling Procedure




Whiteboard Spelling is a linguistically structured, direct, multisensory procedure for mastering English spelling patterns. When used as part of a structured literacy curriculum, like the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum™, Whiteboard Spelling provides a systematic and sequential approach that supports phonemic awareness and working memory, two processes that are commonly weak in struggling readers and writers.

Note that the Whiteboard Spelling activity should be preceded in each lesson by phonemic awareness activities to build awareness of the speech sound structure of the words at that level.  You can see examples of how phonemic awareness activities are used preceding Whiteboard Spelling here:  Spell Out Loud.

In addition, the student must have been taught all the letter-sound associations and the word structures (e.g., prefixes, suffixes, and suffix spelling patterns) for the words in the current word bank. 



Whiteboard Spelling focuses the student's attention on sound-letter elements and syllable patterns that can be otherwise elusive. This procedure strengthens self-monitoring and problem-solving for both spelling and word identification. Whiteboard Spelling results in faster, more permanent gains as compared with less linguistically focused methods.




  1. dry erase pens, an eraser, and a small whiteboard;
  2. 5 (or fewer) phonetically regular words at the student's current Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum™ word bank.

PROCEDURE-   One-Syllable Words

  1. Say one of the words aloud and ask the student to repeat it.  
  2. Ask the student to count the sounds in the word, beginning with the thumb on his/her right hand, as in the Isolator practice game
  3. Once the student has counted the correct number of sounds ask him/her to make one horizontal line (a "sound line") on the whiteboard for each speech sound in the word.  Most single-syllable words have five or fewer sounds. In the rare case that a syllable has six phonemes an additional marker (e.g., a pencil or sticky note) may be needed.  If the student has counted the sounds incorrectly help him/her understand the problem and correct the number of sound lines.
  4. Ask the student to produce the first phoneme in the word and write the grapheme for that phoneme on the line.
  5. Continue in this way, from left to right for all the sounds in the word.

The example below shows Whiteboard Spelling with a single syllable word with 3 speech sounds but 4 letters since the "k" sound is spelled -ck-.  Note the -ck- (digraph) is written on one sound line. 



PROCEDURE-  Multi-Syllable Words

When the client has mastered single-syllable words your clinician will teach how to use Whiteboard Spelling for two (and then three) syllable words. The first step is teaching the concept of a syllable. (A syllable is a unit of speech that has one, and only one vowel sound. The vowel sound makes the syllable "beat.")

  1. Say one of the words aloud and ask the student to repeat it. 
  2. Ask the student to count the syllables in the word. If the student has counted the syllables incorrectly help him/her understand the problem and correct it.
  3. Ask the student to make a (long) horizontal syllable line for each syllable in the word.
  4. Ask the student to count the speech sounds in the first syllable. (See the single syllable procedure, above) and put that number of (short) speech sound lines on top of the first syllable line.
  5. Fill in the graphemes in the first syllable, as in the single syllable procedure, above.
  6. Continue in the same way from the left to right for each syllable.

The example below shows Whiteboard Spelling with the two-syllable word summit, which is an example of consonant doubling (-mm-) in a base word, a concept taught at Level 5 in the Lexercise Structured Literacy Curriculum™.  The student has counted two syllables and made two long syllable lines and then has made sound lines on each syllable line. 

There is only one "m" sound (so one sound line) but it is spelled with a double letter digraph, -mm-.  This pattern is nicknamed the Rabbit Pattern, the image of rabbit ears is a reminder for the student of the name of the pattern.

Points can be awarded for each letter-sound spelled correctly, as illustrated below.



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