SMART Spelling

Spelling that makes sense!

When teachers nail the teaching of spelling, their students can get on with writing confidently!  Michelle helps teachers to do this well by providing courses, books and video training.

"It just makes so much sense!"


Teachers who use SMART Spelling say they enjoy teaching spelling and their students love it too!  Teachers feel confident in their content knowledge and know that SMART Spelling is easy to fit into a busy classroom timetable.

The story behind SMART Spelling.

When I graduated as a teacher, I didn’t really know what I was meant to do for spelling. In those days, teachers would ask students to brainstorm words. Then the students who knew a lot of words would volunteer a lot of words (that they already knew)! Those who didn’t know lots of words would pick the bottom of their school shoes (or pick other things) - as they were disengaged as the brainstorming went on and on!


Do you remember that?


This was known as the ‘brainstorming’ approach.


Then it became trendy to do ‘personal words’. This meant that every child in a class had their own words... So struggling spellers had 10 words and the more advanced spellers had 10 words. Hmmm...They all had the same amount of words. Anyway...Let’s do the maths for a second. In a class of 25, if each student had 10 words...10 x 25 =250 words per week...that I certainly couldn’t teach!  Aaaaaagh...I completely lost control.


I call that the ‘go away and teach yourself’ approach!


Then we had a phonic approach to spelling. I was a researcher and lecturer at university at this time, so I know the evidence that phonics is essential is indisputable, however, the way it is applied to the teaching of spelling needs some serious consideration. Schools were commonly doing a ‘sound a week’ and ALL the different ways that you could spell it!   'a,   a - e,   ai,   ay'.  THEY DIDN'T KNOW WHICH ONE TO USE WHEN! So we were left with a whole lot of phonetic spelling.  Yes, the kids were hearing the right sounds, but the spelling was still...well...umm...wrong!


I call that the ‘confuse me thoroughly’ approach!


Teachers really want to teach spelling well. We know that teaching this basic skill is an important part of our job. How can children communicate effectively in writing if they don't know how to spell well enough?




Over the next 5 years, I was blessed to work with highly skilled teams of teachers and academics developing this approach. There is a clear, Prep to 6 scope and sequence, so each classroom teacher knows what they need to cover each year!  This includes the spelling patterns and also the skills and knowledge that students will need - along with the most useful 4 spelling rules.


Yes! 4 spelling rules, not 44! 


You’re welcome!


We designed a simple routine, so students could have different amounts of words and words of different complexity, but they all still have the same spelling pattern. So one student might be learning the word ‘rain’ and another the word ‘contain’ but they’re both still been taught the digraph /ai/.


Phew...It’s inclusive and differentiated.


But we needed more than just 'what' to teach, we also needed 'how' to teach spelling.  We used the acronym of SMART, which actually shows us HOW to teach spelling! 









It’s all explained in the manual and the training - and you can even watch videos of me demonstrating it on facebook! 😉


SMART Spelling (this approach had picked up the name of 'SMART Spelling' after the sequence) works because it is 2 things. 80% of the time it is the systematic teaching of one spelling pattern at a time. 20% of the time, it is teaching at the point of need from students’ own writing.


In short, we incorporate the meaning, syllables, sounds and letters and the most useful spelling rules.  So SMART Spelling uses the 4 areas of spelling knowledge phonology, orthography, etymology and morphology.  It does however prioritise the meaning (vocabulary), phonology (sounds) and orthography (letters and letter patterns).


At the beginning of 2015, The SMART Spelling manual was released to everyone!  The one day course has become incredibly popular and has now helped more than ten thousand teachers and not just in Australia!  It is also used in parts of Fiji, Singapore, China, Indonesia and Malaysia!


My husband Freddy manages the business side of SMART Spelling so I can concentrate on teaching!  #grateful!  He looks after the bookings, orders and emails...and the dogs, horses and kids!


Teachers and students love SMART Spelling because it makes so much sense.


Schools love it because it is systematic.


And it’s doable in a classroom!


It's even fun!


Come to a course    or    buy the manual

About Michelle Hutchison

Master of Education (Melb Uni); Post Grad Dip Learning Disabilities (Melb Uni); Grad Dip Special Ed (Melb Uni); Dip Teach (Prim) (Monash)

The teacher who teaches the teachers!

"I’m grateful to be one of Australia’s most popular presenters in the field of education.  I think this is because I am engaging and real, not just an expert in my field.  On a good day people learn and laugh with me!  I work with excellent teachers and turbo-charge them to be exceptional teachers!

The best teachers are lifelong learners.

Lecturing and researching at The University of Melbourne was when I was able to combine academic knowledge with my practical experience as a teacher. People say I have a unique ability to interpret research into simple, easy-to-follow guidelines for busy teachers!"





50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.