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SWR Learning Logs – Part 1

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The Learning Log is one of the most important tools in the Spell to Write and Read approach. The student builds his own “text book,” his own personalized primer for spelling entirely from guided teacher dictation. As the captain of a ship logs information about his travels, so the student will record information he learns about the English language. In his Learning Log your student will

  1. add his new spelling words, and
  2. work on Reference Pages where he will learn about and practice applying the spelling rules.

When a New Log is Necessary

Each student needs a new Learning Log each year. The log is one of the few items for SWR that is consumable. If you school year-round, you’ll need to set a wrap-up date for when you’ll consider “this year” completed and when you will start the “new year” with a new Learning Log (see SWR p. 43).

The Learning Log is a Reader

We’re frequently asked, “So when will he start reading?” Your student begins reading as soon as you start teaching phonograms and the first spelling words. A beginning student easily could have learned, spelled, written, and practiced reading over 260 words before he’s ready to be reading from books. He writes his word — sight unseen — in his Learning Log, reads those words back to you, writes them in sentences, and reads his sentences. He’s reading!

When he can fluently read from his Learning Log and the sentences he’s been writing, he is probably ready to start reading what someone else has written in a book. Your student’s Learning Log is often his first reader.

Comparing the Two Learning Logs

The Primary Learning Log has space below each line for markings and for those “tails” that reach below the baseline (f, g, j, p, q, y, and z). The Black Log has blue spaces between each line to allow for tails and markings. On ANY page in the book where you see these blue spaces, think: “Don’t write there.”

The Primary Learning Log has 15 Reference Pages in the back of the book and includes dotted half lines. The Black Learning Log has 39 Reference Pages in the front of the book and has NO dotted midline.

Is your beginning student missing out by not having all those Reference Pages? No way! He doesn’t need them for the material he’s covering in Kindergarten or 1st grade.

Learning Log
Learning Log
line width
10 mm
8.5 mm
line type
dotted midline
simply ruled
# Reference Pages
location of Reference Pages

Each spelling list in The Wise Guide for Spelling includes 20 words. The Primary Log has room for entering 62 spelling lists while the Black Log has room for 44 lists. You’ll have plenty of room for your work in the Primary Log, but you could possibly run out of room in the Black Log if you are consistent and diligent with your lessons. What do you do?

Before you get concerned about running out of pages for entering spelling lists in the Black Learning Log, let’s see when that might even be an issue.

If you are following the suggested schedule* found on p. 64 in Spell to Write and Read for teaching through the years, the only times you would come close to needing more pages would be when teaching Lists M — S and Lists P — Z.

How to Handle Running out of Room

To find out if your students will run out of pages for entering spelling lists in the Black Learning Log, figure out how many lists you will want to cover for the year and how that equates to the number of pages you’ll need.

If you have more lists than pages, then here’s Option #1 for how to handle this:

Determine at what point your student will start writing 20 words per column (2 lists per page) rather than only 10 words per column (1 list per page). This means he’ll actually write IN the blue spaces.

Using the example of teaching Lists M-S in one year (920 words/46 lists), we would only need to double up on TWO pages. On the 43rd page, you’d have the student enter BOTH Lists S-3 and S-4. On the 44th page, you’d have him finish with BOTH Lists S-5 and S-6. Done!

The advantage to this option is that all your student’s work is still contained in one book, but the disadvantage is that you lose that extra space between lines for markings. He’ll have to be more careful in his writing.

Here’s Option #2:

Have your student use each page in his log to record one list (20 words per page) until you use all the pages in the book. At that point, continue to use the Black Log for the Reference Page work, but have your student record his spelling words on notebook paper. Be sure to have a binder or other secure place where these pages live for easy reference so you don’t have papers all over the place.

The advantage to this option is that you retain the same spacing in between lines (helpful for students who are not as careful in their writing), but the disadvantage is that you now have to keep track of loose paper. Fortunately, you’d only have up to THREE of these “extra” pages based on our recommended schedule (see SWR p. 64).

Black Learning Log Reference Pages

The Spell to Write and Read book now includes references to and instructions for using the formatted Black Learning Log. However, there are some Reference Pages included in this new book that are not covered in the SWR book (B26, B-31-B37, and B39). No worries! We have an Answer Key to help you take advantage of these awesome pages.



Did you learn something new or has this helped answer some of your questions? Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Read Part Two.


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