SMART Spelling is an approach that supports primary school teachers to teach spelling well.  There is a clear Foundation – 6 scope and sequence that is well established in many schools.  Teachers start by teaching the meaning of words to expand vocabulary and then break words into syllables, sounds and letter patterns (graphs, digraphs and trigraphs) following a simple routine that is in the SMART Spelling course.


In a SMART Spelling classroom, students are explicitly taught spelling patterns, one at a time.  Teachers choose a range of words (from simple to complex) from a suggested list in the manual.  Students are then guided to choose from that list, to meet different needs.  Personal words are also a focus in SMART Spelling.  Teachers use their strong professional knowledge they gain in the course to give meaningful feedback to students about their spelling in writing, teaching at the point of need.  


Teachers feel confident in their content knowledge and know that SMART Spelling is easy to fit into a busy classroom timetable.  Schools love SMART Spelling because it’s systematic. Teachers love it because it just makes sense!


Find out more about the SMART Spelling course or the SMART Spelling manual.

An intro to SMART Spelling!


The SMART Sequence!


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 the approach known as 'SMART Spelling'.  It has a clear, F 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 74! 


You’re welcome!


There is a simple routine, so students can 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 ‘container’ but they’re both still being taught the digraph /ai/.’s inclusive and differentiated.


But we need 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 course - and you can watch a video of me demonstrating it below! 😉


My favourite thing about the SMART Spelling Approach is how it really ‘lets kids in on the secret’. The explicit nature of the approach doesn’t shy away from using correct terminology with even the youngest of learners and empowers them to see themselves as capable and confident, readers, writers and spellers. I also love how whilst it is explicit and direct the weekly study approach provides the opportunity for word and spelling inquiry to also support an inquiry based philosophy to teaching and learning. After completing this course I am left feeling inspired and invigorated to start using this approach in my classroom. Thank you Michelle.

Maddison Cooper

SMART Spelling is 2 things. 80% of the time it is the systematic weekly teaching. 20% of the time, it is teaching at the point of need from students’ own writing.


In short, we incorporate the meaning of words, 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 tens of thousands teachers and not just in Australia!  In 2018 the SMART Spelling Video Course was released so now it is also used in parts of Fiji, Singapore, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Moldova and India!


Freddy (my husband) looks after the admin side of SMART Spelling so I can concentrate on teaching!  #grateful!  He looks after the bookings, and orders...and the school drop offs and pick ups!


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


Schools love it because it is systematic.


It’s simple and easy in a classroom!


It's even fun!


Now...find out more about the SMART Spelling course or the SMART Spelling 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!"

The SMART approach to teaching spelling is just's so SMART! It is practical, logical and extremely engaging. Michelle is one of the most incredible, inspirational presenters going around. We walked away excited and raring to go with an approach that ticks all the boxes. It caters for all learners and 'The SMART Spelling Manual' makes implementation a breeze. You know you're onto a winner when you hear students cry out, "Is it time for SMART Spelling, Miss Goodwin?!?!" 

Candace Goodwin


This approach to teaching spelling makes so much sense for all learners and teachers, and is so comprehensively and intuitively structured that early career teachers as well as experienced can use it easily!

Sandra England



Read what other teachers say and what schools say about SMART Spelling!



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