Hello all, 

My friend Jason is a computer coader (and Gertrudes bandmate who wrote this song). A little while ago he posted an article titled "Reality has a surprising amount of detail" by someone named John Salvatier. that you can access HERE

I think he offers some profound insights into the process of developing a deep understanding about any complex domain. Because of my interest, I see it as completely applicable to many aspects of learning and teaching about orthography. Here is just one paragraph to give you a sense of the discussion. 

"Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at?"

I really recommend reading the the article closely. It is an eloquent description of the process of learning about complex information over time that I experience as I learn about oral and written language. But I also found it a powerful way to better understand the surprising difficulty some have at seeing the importance of studying the interrelation of morphology etymology and phonology in spelling. The better I understand that, the better I can get at helping them perceive details that are otherwise "basically invisible" to them based on the frame of reference from which they are looking. 

I'm going to resist going on about the many links I see between this article and my work with structured word inquiry, but I do hope that we can use this article as a launching pad for a discussion on exactly this point. 

I will point to two Real Spellers posts that I think have particular relevance to the ideas Salvatier articulates in this article. 

1) See the "snow plant" story in  WordWorks Newsletter 82

2) See this story posted on Real Spellers years ago from Grade 2 teacher Neha whose co-learners/students helped her see the significance of the <u> in <triangulate> when she tried to construct a word sum building that word from the base <angle> in the word <triangle>. 

3) There are also very strong links between what Salvatier's article is describing and a poweful theory of learning called "cognitive load theory". I wrote a piece describing this theory and it's link to structured word inquiry a while ago that I posted HERE on Real Spellers if you are interested. 

Perhaps those connections will prompt some interesting discussion, but of course feel free to launch your own connections!