top of page

Stop Grading Spelling Tests - An Alternative for Busy Teachers


I hate spelling. ​​Not the actual act of spelling a word... I hate to give out spelling assignments and even more, I hate to grade them!

So, about halfway through this last school year, I decided to stop. Just cold turkey. The kids (and probably the parents too) thought I'd gone crazy.

But I had my reasons!

Here are the problems I was having...

  • Some of the kids consistently misspelled words when copying the list into their agendas or wrote so sloppily, they couldn't even read the words to practice them.

  • Some of the kids never even looked at the words until Thursday night... right before their test.

  • The good spellers already knew how to spell most of the words and the poor spellers continued to be poor spellers because they didn't want to practice. (But do spelling lists and tests actually improve spelling ability? Hmm...)

  • Giving and grading spelling tests takes up a lot of valuable time that could be better spent actually teaching.

I should also mention that I do not assign spelling homework because I'd much rather them spend time reading a book.

So I had to come up with a solution. I was not going to be the only third grade teacher out of 7 to skip the spelling part of our reading program.

​​Enter my dream come true... Spelling City! ​​

I know many of you are aware of this website. But did you know you can set up your entire year of spelling in one shot and then not really think about it again?

You can even use it for your spelling tests... with NO PAPERS TO GRADE!

Here's how it works...

First, register for a free account if you don't already have one. Super simple, no explanation necessary.

Now, go to "List Management" on the menu. That will bring you to this page...

At the bottom are some blue buttons. If your school uses one of a few reading programs, you can just click the one that says "Import Lists" and then choose your program and grade.

Hint: If you try to "import group" for your reading program, it will tell you that's a premium feature. Click the arrow to expand your selection and you can import each week's list one at a time instead.

If your reading program is not on the list, you'll want to to choose the "Create a New List" option. That will bring you here...

Enter a name for your list (like Week 1) and put in your words. Then save.

Now here's where you can save yourself a ton of time throughout the year. Go ahead and put in your lists for every week NOW. It will take a bit of time but it is sooooo worth it!

When you're finished, you can go back to the List Management page and hide all but your first week's list from view. Click "visibility" next to each list and then you can choose "None: Not visible to anyone."

This will keep your students from accidentally working on the wrong set of words.

After you create a list, the site generates the part of speech and a sentence for each word. Check it over to make sure you don't need to edit anything.

That's it! Your lists are ready for students to start practicing. They just have to go to Spelling City and search for your name...

Students do NOT need to register or log in. They will be able to practice, play games, and take tests without an account.

The way I like to use Spelling City is to have the kids do practice games and activities during center time. (They can practice at home too.) There are plenty of games to choose from. These are the free ones...

I also encourage my students to take a practice test sometime during the week to see which words they are having trouble with.

On Friday, they take their real test. This is what I LOOOOOOOVE most about Spelling City.

During reading centers, I call up four kids at a time to my reading table. They bring their headphones and sit down with one of the iPads to start their test. It looks like this...

They hear the word spoken and also used in a sentence. Then they just type the word in the box. I can monitor that there is no cheating going on, but I don't need to call out the words and the students can work at their own pace. They can have the word or sentence repeated as many times as they want.

When a student is finished with their test, they get a chance to review their answers before submitting. Once they submit, the test is immediately scored...

They show me their grade and I record it. That simple! No more grading spelling tests! Woohoooo!!

The beauty of using this site is that you can set up all of your spelling lists at the beginning of the year. Once you teach your students how to find their list and how you expect them to use the site, most of your work is done!


Do your students often misspell words in their writing? Try a

Students can refer to the preprinted sight words, theme word, and even add their own frequently-used words.


Want more teaching ideas, tips, and freebies delivered right to you? Sign up for my Teaching Tips Newsletter! It's quick, easy, and no pressure!

1,628 views0 comments

Related Posts

See All


bottom of page