Yes. No. Let me explain:
As a sixth grade English teacher, I get this one a lot, especially when it comes to quizzes, tests, and homework assignments. My take: I could really care less if you spell every word correctly on an assignment or test, as long as the content is stellar. However, we need to backpedal before pursuing this topic any further.
In the past several years (well, since the onslaught of computers and Microsoft Word and Spellcheck), spelling has become less of an issue in classrooms. Years ago, many schools (public and private) emphasized perfection when it came to forming letters and spelling words correctly. It seemed this was done purposefully in the lower grades, like kindergarten and first grade, so students would learn the RIGHT way to WRITE.
I hate to break your pencil--but this was all a LIE.
The Societal Approach to Writing has progressed since then, though many argue it has digressed. Those digressors. Pity them. How often do you hear someone say, "It's not like it used to be when I was in school." You know who I'm talking about. Mom, Grandpa, Neighbor, Grocer, Librarian. That may be true, Debby Downer, it's not the same as it used to be. It's a whole lot better.
Spelling words correctly has little to do with writing.
Let me repeat that. Spelling words correctly has LITTLE to do with writing. It has A LOT to do with presentation of writing but nothing to do with the meat and potatoes of a written piece, whether it's a four line poem or a 10 page essay. Content is what the writer is saying. The points the writer makes. The message conveyed. The support of the thesis. The story itself. This is CONTENT.
So now you're thinking, "How can an English teacher not care about spelling? That would drive me to an early grave." You're right. When I began teaching, these tiny mistakes drove me nuts. They kept me up at night. But now I've learned to look past the occasional misspelled word (current culprit: emortal) and the lower case proper noun (current culprit: greeks/trojans). Now, when I grade or comment on papers, I put on my CONTENT GLASSES. For some reason, my content glasses can't see these small imperfections. After all, no one is perfect and no one writes perfectly, especially a twelve year-old.
This one is a hot topic. My take: In order to use SpellCheck, one must be a savvy enough speller to know whether the suggested replacement is the right word for the sentence. Be careful. Computers are not all-knowing.
I spend quality time reviewing these little boogers. Everyday words, like there/their/they're and your/you're. Many of them fall under punctuation (its-it's), others have to do with spelling. These invaders do not get passed my content glasses. We use them too often and there are so many of them; they can't go unrecognized. (BTW - I know many adults who still misuse contractions... constantly. It makes me ill.)
Let me clarify three points.
1. Last year my colleague (fellow sixth grade teacher) and I decided to drop our spelling book. To replace it (after sifting through several options) we picked up a vocabulary book that will expose students to a host of valuable words, which can be used in everyday writing and speaking.
2. If a student's spelling is so debilitating that it fogs over my CONTENT GLASSES and turns my stomach over, causing me to blindly stumble to the nearest toilet, then I will have a conversation with that student. I will offer suggestions and methods, sometimes mandatory, to improve that student's spelling. There are lists of 100 most commonly misspelled words for all ages. Usually the main culprits hang out there.
3. Spelling matters most in these situations:
-When you get to college (depending on the professor)
-Sending work to Agents/Editors/Magazines/Journals to be published
To summarize, in my world, my little sixth grade world, spelling doesn't count for much, unless it's out of control. Unless it makes your paper unreadable. Unless it cracks the lenses of my CONTENT GLASSES.
Unless it lokes sumthang lkie tihs.