Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Words Their Way Word Study

Back in August 2011, I posted about a new word study program I was starting called Word Journeys.  I used that program for the entire year and loved it.  I felt like my students were making so many gains in their word knowledge.  In fact, the fifth grade teachers who taught that group last year were so impressed with them!

This past school year, my district adopted a new reading program which came with the Words Their Way program.  It was a very easy transition for me, having used Word Journeys in the past, as the two programs are very similar.  Though I'm wanting to revamp somewhat, I plan to stick to the shell of how I ran my word study program.  At the beginning of the year, I give the Words Their Way spelling inventory.  I start out with the "Elementary" form, then give the "Upper Elementary" form to those students who got more than 20 words correct.  I typically end up with about four groups.  I meet with each group once a week (usually Tuesdays and Wednesdays) to discuss the new spelling pattern.  I used to give a notes page for students to keep in their binders, but I was finding them on the floor, in their desks, and every other place except their binders!  I put a composition book on the supply list this year and I want to try a word study notebook instead.  So, at the group meeting, students will take notes in their word study notebook.  They will record their spelling pattern, then brainstorm words that fit their pattern.  Students will then be given their word sort.  I give them a word sort page for them to record it on.  I do not have students glue down their words because I want them to access the words for ABC order and to do other sorts throughout the week.  The word sort is due the following day.  This allows me to see if anyone is struggling so I can do some reteaching before it is too late.

I was also struggling with finding the word sort words all over the floor.  I asked a 2nd grade teacher in my building how she handles this with her students and she told me that she found zipper pockets similar to these on sale and each student has one that they keep in their homework binder.  She sets aside time at the beginning of the week for the students to cut out their words and put their name on each one before putting them in the pocket.  If a word is found on the floor, it is very easy to tell whose it is.  I like this and I'm going to try it this year!

Other word study assignments that students have due throughout the week are ABC order and Super Sentences.  In the past, I have allowed my students all week to work on the assignment and have it due during the next group meeting.  Last year, that did not seem to work and students failed to turn in the assignments. Mid-year, I started having the ABC order due on Fridays and Super Sentences due the day of their next group meeting and that seemed to work out better.

I feel very strongly that word study is the best way to teach spelling.  Students are learning spelling patterns based on their individual needs.  It really doesn't make sense to have students memorize "4th grade words" when they don't even have the concept of long vowel patterns.

Do you use Words Their Way or a similar program?  What other word study assignments do students complete throughout the week?


  1. I have used the Words Their Way program for two years, and our district will be implementing it this fall. I do like it, and agree that it makes the most sense. I have really grown in my implementation of it. I really feel like this year I will be really using the concept with true fidelity.

    I typically have about 4 groups, too. I have two week word cycles. I meet with each group at least 2x during the two weeks. I really value student choice, so last year, I began creating student choice boards for them to use during our words block. (about 20 min per day) I have really worked to find/create a variety of games/sorts for the kids to do with their words.

    I have considered a word study notebook, but because we use reading, writing, and math notebooks, I decidede to forego a fourth. Students keep their materials in the literacy binder behind the words tab. I have gone away from collecting all of their activities, and work to check their binders for accountability. I will be anxious to read about your success with the notebooks.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Lifelong Learning

  2. I have been using the WTW program for about 3 years. I am not 100% happy with how I have been doing it. I am the only person in my building who is using it and believes in the differentation that it provides. I really like the two week cycle mentioned in the last comment as that would be a little less stressful for me, and also give the students more time to practice with their words.. I also like the idea of super sentences. I am implementing Daily five this year and I think that the word study componet will be beneficial for students to practice with their words. I have had no training in this program and I am trying to use it by what I have read and researched other teachers doing. I think this is the way to go, I only need to find my niche. Thanks for the ideas!

  3. This is my first year teaching so WTW is brand new to me. I tested my fourth graders and had about 4 different groups. I meet with each group 2 times a week to discuss their spelling patterns.

    I have been using a spelling contract with the students. My school is very big on student choice, so my contract has 15 different assignments that they can complete in the week and each activity has a different point value. The easier assignments are worth 1 or 2 points and the harder ones are with 4 or 5 points. The students need to do any combination of activities that add up to 9 or 10 points (which earns them an A).