Did you know that students make connections in their brains as they learn? This helps them to remember information efficiently. This is why it is important for students to be given information in context. This works for introducing new concepts in all subject areas, including spelling.
Here's what I learnt about giving spelling tests: If I give my students a spelling quiz by just calling out the words for them to spell, they can make a lot of errors. These errors may be due to them not hearing me well so they may write 'hour' instead of 'flour' or they may mix up their homophones and write 'flower' instead of 'flour'. Has this ever happened to you? ...(even though you gave them a spelling list and did drills with them) ...[sigh]
Students connect the sound of a word to its meaning, to its written form (spelling) and to its real image (a picture or memory). Sometimes we may ask them to spell a homophone word without realizing that they may be spelling the other homophone of the word you really mean. So, as much as possible, you can show your students what you want them to spell by:
Using images. This is great for spelling words that are tangible nouns which can be represented by a picture.
Using images and clues. I use these for words that are longer or difficult. In this example, I showed the consonants and students completed each word by putting in the vowels.
Putting the word in context within a sentence.