All of my elementary teachers certainly subscribed to the vocabulary-building theory of education, especially Mrs. Johnson in the 4th grade with her regular spell-downs even as we were lined up for dismissal or recess. Turned me into the Internet spelling fanatic that I am today!!!
I had Mrs. Moffatt in the 4th grade and she did much of the same thing. And she would have those contests where the class would try to find as many words in a word written on the blackboard. I won a small flag for that once. That was in 1964 and I do remember it. Back to basics.
How were those 4th grade spell-downs constructed? Just curious.