an explicit approach to teaching spelling

Spell-It is a flexible resource* that assists teachers to plan and implement spelling instruction based on assessment of students’ current knowledge. Spell-It teaches the rules, conventions, structure and logic of the English language, to enable teachers to plan effective spelling lessons based on the needs of their students. Originally written by Joy Allcock from New Zealand, Spell-It has been adapted for use in Australian schools.

Who is it for?

  • Students from upper primary through to secondary and tertiary levels
  • Students who have average reading skills but poor spelling, rely on visual images of words but do not understand the system behind the patterns, or who over-rely on known sound-spelling relationships to write words because they do not know about alternate spelling conventions, may particularly benefit


As an adaptable and flexible resource, Spell-It can be used for a whole class, small group or even one-to-one instruction. It can be delivered within a Response to Intervention framework, for use in Tier 1 or Tier 2.

Key benefits

  • Provides an explicit and structured approach to teaching spelling within a whole-class or small group framework
  • Students benefit from improved writing quality and fluency, expanded vocabulary and confidence with spelling as they learn to apply strategies to unknown words and work out relationships between words
  • Assists teachers to increase their own knowledge regarding the spelling system that underpins written English#

Program content

Spell-It provides an explicit and structured approach to teaching spelling within a whole-class or small group framework. The program provides assessment tools for teachers to identify the spelling skills that are needed most, and to develop a teaching program to target these areas.

Specific teaching strategies are included for each teaching topic, with alternative ‘routes’ for differentiated instruction, extensive examples and word lists for use within lessons.

The program’s content can be delivered over time, and through practical activities and targeted written exercises, students’ ability to generalise their newly learned spelling skills to their writing can be monitored.

The Spell–It Kit includes:

      • Teacher Manual, including assessment tools
      • 2 Teaching Topic Manuals, covering 17 topics dealing with a variety of spelling patterns and concepts
      • Sample Student Activity Book
      • Answer Book
      • My Spelling Dictionary
      • Access to online resources to be used alongside the lessons.

Additional Student Activity Books (which are also available as a downloadable) can be purchased separately from MultiLit.

Spell–It Cards: The cards used alongside the program can either be downloaded from the MultiLit Members’ Area, or purchased as a set from MultiLit.

*Spell-It is a resource that provides a framework and suggested activities for teachers to plan and implement spelling lessons targeted to fill gaps in students’ knowledge. Unlike MultiLit’s other programs, which use detailed, scripted, sequential lessons to teach initial reading skills, Spell-It is a program that enables teachers to effectively accommodate the diverse spelling needs of older students.

My Spelling Dictionary

Sometimes when you want to write a word, it is hard to remember how to spell it. Although you know what the word sounds like, it isn’t always easy to remember what it looks like. It can also be difficult to look up the spelling of the word in a dictionary if you don’t know which letter it starts with.

My Spelling Dictionary is organised differently to conventional dictionaries to help solve this where the words are grouped according to their beginning sound not their beginning letter. It has been carefully designed to link the teaching of Australian English spelling and vocabulary.

For example, if a student wanted to spell the word ‘wrist’, the student would look up the word under the sound /r/, rather than the letter ‘w’. If they wanted to look up the word ‘queue’, they would look the word up under the sound /k/, not the letter ‘q’.

This helps students appreciate that spelling is often about representing sounds in a number of different ways and it enables students to more easily find a word when they are not sure of the spelling. In My Spelling Dictionary, students can also record and define the words they want to remember by writing them on the page of the sound they start with.


Students can use My Spelling Dictionary in a number of ways:

  1. To find out how to spell sounds in different ways.
  2. As a reference for checking the spelling and definitions of words they might use in their writing.
  3. As a reference for the spelling and definitions of common academic words.
  4. To find out how to pronounce vowel spelling patterns in different ways.
  5. To look up some useful spelling rules and conventions.
  6. To find out the spelling and meanings of the most common prefixes, suffixes and roots.
  7. To check the spelling of the most common high-frequency words – the words that make up about 75 per cent of what we write.

My Spelling Dictionary is not only a helpful resource for assisting students to improve their spelling, it is also a tool to improve more general literacy skills like building vocabulary and understanding the meaning of words.

Useful suffixes, prefixes, rules and conventions are explained at the back of the dictionary as a quick reference tool to aid students’ spelling knowledge. These skills will enhance students’ ability to express themselves across all curriculum areas.

This dictionary complements the use of Spell-It, a spelling program for classroom use.

Spell-It Professional Development Workshop

A one-day workshop provides the essential information and practical guidance necessary to implement Spell-It successfully.


What the workshop covers

  • The systematic Spell-It teaching approach
  • A theoretical overview of the structure of words
  • Useful spelling rules and conventions, and how best to teach them
  • Identification of spelling needs through use of assessment tools
  • How to program for spelling based on students’ gaps in knowledge
  • How to differentiate spelling instruction within a class
  • An opportunity to practise the teaching activities through application exercises

Who should attend?

  • Classroom, learning support and English teachers who are working with upper primary students


1 Day (6 Hours)


NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA)​

Completing Spell-It Professional Development Workshop will contribute 5 hours of NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Accredited PD in the priority area of Delivery and assessment of NSW Curriculum addressing standard descriptors 1.5.2, 2.1.2, 2.5.2, 3.1.2, 5.4.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.


Teacher Quality Institute, ACT

This program has been accredited by TQI in 2023. Attendance provides 5 PD hours for ACT teachers.

Please note: The use of MultiLit publications and attendance at professional development workshops is for personal education use in schools with State/Territory accreditation (‘Accredited Schools’). Other commercial use, hiring or lending, or other use as part of any commercial, not-for-profit, or fee-paying program of instruction or tuition not carried out within an Accredited School is strictly prohibited.

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