Word Study(Formerly Known as Spelling)
In our classroom this year, students will participate in reading and writing activities for a variety of purposes. Within these experiences, teaching and learning about phonics and spelling is an important goal. One component of this process is called “Word Study,” which differs quite a bit from traditional spelling lessons. It’s a highly structured and systematic way of learning to spell, which is practiced daily. This is a more individualized and differentiated approach to learning about words.
What is Word Study?
It is a student-centered approach to phonics, spelling and vocabulary instruction that actively engages the learner in constructing concepts about the way words work. Each week, students will have the opportunity to construct their own word knowledge that they can then apply to their reading and writing.
Why is word study important?
Becoming fully literate is absolutely dependent on fast, accurate recognition of words in texts and fast, accurate production of words in writing so that the readers and writers can focus their attention on making meaning.
What is the purpose of word study?
The purpose of word study is to have students examine words in order to discover patterns or spelling principles, within the written language system and to help students master the recognition, spelling and meaning of specific words. The program is based on extensive research on how words work within the written language system.
The research behind the program:
1. We do not learn all of our spoken vocabulary through word memorization, it would be impossible to memorize that many words.
2. We learn words by applying patterns seen in known words to unknown words.
3. Orthographic (spelling) and phonetic (letters and sounds) patterns help us to tackle new, unknown words.
4. Students need to understand the principles of spelling so they can apply their knowledge in reading and writing.
In class, the students will be sorting words that compare spelling features/patterns of words that they know well, with features/patterns of words that they are “using but confusing.” Students sort the words based on the pattern, sound and meaning of the words. Students are asked to explain their reasoning by making a generalization of the spelling principle. Through this active process, students take ownership of spelling principles by constructing their own learning.
Students will receive guided practice and coaching throughout the week in a small group. In addition, students will be presented with exceptions to patterns so they can discover the inconsistencies within the English language (we call them “oddballs” in class). Your child will be assessed weekly on their individualized patterns; being asked to spell words from the weekly practice and place them under the correct pattern category. Students will also be required to apply learned patterns to their writing.
How will you differentiate word study?
Through individual spelling inventories, writing samples and observations of student reading, I have gathered diagnostic information about the spelling features that each student has mastered and ones they still need to study. Students will receive a list that fits their needs.
Will there be homework?
Yes! Your child has a “Word Study” baggie in their BOBCAT Binder. They are to keep their word sort in this baggie. They will need the sorting cards to complete their homework. At the start of a new sort, your student will bring home their new list as well as a packet of sort activities to do. The packet will inform you of their assessment date, which is also the due date of the packet.
Will there be tests?
Yes! On a designated day your student will have a Word Study Test in the form of a sort. Words from their sort will be read aloud. Students will have to put the word in the correct category as well as spell the word correctly. I will also give them 5 bonus words that follow the same pattern but are new to them, along with 2 dictation sentences. This is to check for application of the pattern.