Hello Real Spellers,

A little while ago, Leslie posted a question here after she ran into trouble helping a student understand the spelling <first> after he had made the understandable misspelling <*ferst>. 

Since her question was posted, other real spellers have offered some thoughts on understanding that spelling that you can see by following the comments at the above link.

Howerver, this is the kind of question I encounter very frequently from teachers working with Real Spelling and structured word inquiry.

"How do I teach the spelling of a base?"

I decided to use Leslie's question about to create a document that I think will help her and other teachers in two ways:

1) I offer a model of a possible step-by-step investigation of this question that could be used for any similar spelling question.

2) I use that investigation to remind real spellers that the prime goal of any spelling investigation is not actually the spelling of that word - but the systemic understanding that can be gained by investigating any word.

You can download the example investigation here. I owe Gail Venable many thanks for much help in editing this piece and many others. 

I hope teachers find this useful. Please leave comments with further questions or observations.