Spelling: Cover-Copy-Compare

DESCRIPTION: In this intervention to promote acquisition of spelling words, the student is given a spelling sheet with the target words correctly spelled. The student looks at each correctly spelled word, covers the word briefly and copies it from memory, then compares the copied word to the original correct model (Skinner, McLaughlin & Logan, 1997).


GROUP SIZE: Whole class, small group, individual student


TIME:  Variable up to 15 minutes per session



  • Worksheet: Cover-Copy-Compare (attached)
  • Spelling Log: Mastered Words (attached)

INTERVENTION STEPS: Here are the steps of Cover-Copy-Compare for spelling:

  1. [Teacher] Create a Cover-Copy-Compare Spelling Sheet.  The teacher selects up to 10 spelling words for the student to work on during the session and writes those words as correct models into the left column ('Spelling Words') of the Worksheet: Cover-Copy-Compare (attached). The teacher then pre-folds the spelling sheet using as a guide the vertical dashed line ('fold line') bisecting the left side of the student worksheet.
  2. [Student] Use the Cover-Copy-Compare Procedures. During the Cover-Copy-Compare intervention, the student follows these self-directed steps for each spelling word:

    STEP 1: Look at the correctly spelled target word that appears in the left column of the sheet.
    STEP 2: Fold the left side of the page over at the pre-folded vertical crease to hide the correct model ('Cover').
    STEP 3: Spell the word from memory, writing it in the first response blank under the 'Student Response' section of the spelling sheet ('Copy').
    STEP 4: Uncover the correct model and compare it to the student response ('Compare').

    If the student spelling is CORRECT, move to the next word on the list and repeat these procedures.

    If the student spelling is INCORRECT, draw a line through the incorrect response, study the correct model again, cover the model, copy the word from memory into the second response blank under the 'Student Response' section of the spelling sheet, and again check the correctness of its spelling.
    Continue until all words on the spelling list have been spelled and checked against the correct models.

  3. [Teacher] Log Spelling Words Mastered by Student. The teacher should select an objective standard for judging that the student using Cover-Copy-Compare has 'mastered' a spelling word (e.g., when the student is able to copy a specific word from memory without error on three successive occasions).  The teacher can then apply this standard for mastery to identify and log spelling words in each session, using the Spelling Log: Mastered Words sheet (attached).


  • Skinner, C. H., McLaughlin, T. F., & Logan, P. (1997). Cover, copy, and compare: A self-managed academic intervention effective across skills, students, and settings. Journal of Behavioral Education, 7, 295-306.