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Monday, September 16, 2013

Word Study Routines

I was sharing my word study routines with my colleagues today, so I thought I would share them here.  Part of my problem as a teacher, is that while it is easy for me to teach first graders and understand their background knowledge, it is very difficult to know how much my fellow teachers know.  I have difficulty knowing where to start explaining things about word study because I think some things are already known.  I was so excited to share my routines when someone asked today.  I get very excited when discussing word study and have to hold back my enthusiasm because not everyone wants to stay after school and talk about it like I do!  So here goes.  Here are the in-class routines each week:

Day 1: Cut words, Teacher Sort (I tell them how to sort it using the pre-printed guide words at the top of each list), Speed Sort.

Day 2: Student Sort.  "How else can you sort it?"  Students usually sort by first letter or last letter until they know the terms "L-blends", "R-Blends", digraphs, etc.

Day 3: Blind Sort (also called "no-peeking sort").  Students work with a partner in the same spelling group.  One student has all of the spelling words and lays down the "rules" or "guide words".  I call them rules but others call them guide words.  Anyway, the guide words are at the top, and the student with the words reads one while the other student listens and says which column the word should go in.  This helps the student that is not looking to picture the word/pattern in his/her mind and receive immediate feedback.  If student is correct the word is placed down under the rule.  If not, the caller shows the student the word and then places it on the bottom of the pile so that the student can have another chance to get it correct.

Day 4: Word Hunt:  Students find words that fit the rules they are working on in books.  This helps kids make the spelling-reading connection.  Many kids do not understand that something they learn in spelling will help them in their reading.  You want them to make this connection so that they will use the skills they learn in spelling during their reading. 

Another way to sort:

Concept Sort.  This is tricky.  It takes a lot of modeling.    I can't say that I have taught it it all year because it takes a lot of work to get kids to think of things.  It was easy with pictures, but with words you have to go through a routine to get them to come up with similarities between words.  Using the words in their lists, students sort their words into concepts like kitchen items, or things to do with water, things that remind me of my grandma, etc.  The key to getting kids to be successful is to hold up a word and ask them to tell you everything they know about the word.  Then repeat it with the other words until the students hear anything that can be seen as a similarity.  It takes practice, but I think it really helps practice abstract thinking and generalizing.  

If I can help anyone in any way, please email me or leave a comment below with any questions.  I have had 15,000 visitors to this site, but not a lot of people leave comments.  So I know you are out there!  

Happy Monday!

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