Posts Tagged ‘word study’

 At the request of the PreK-5 district language arts director, Joni McEvoy, I recently presented several days on word study for back-to-school training in Humble ISD. For the past 10-12 years, I’ve been a huge fan of Donald Bear and Shane Templeton, both of whom I’ve had the privilege to study with. I’ve also studied phonological awareness and oral language in depth and have written about these topics in my book, Making the Most of Small Groups.

In Humble ISD, I walked teachers through developmental word study, using the developmental spelling continuum found in the book, Words Their Way. My roots are in child development, and I always find it easier to know how to teach if I can wrap my head around the stages of development for whatever the area is—reading, writing, word study, oral language, math, etc.

Many teachers spent 2-3 days with me, delving deeply into why kids spell like they do (and what we can do about it as teachers)! This area has fascinated me for many years. My daughter was a struggling speller as a young child, and Bear and his colleagues helped me understand how to help her.

We did all kinds of word sorts, including concept sorts (or sorts focused on meanings of words, rather than spellings). The brain is a pattern-seeker, so kids love word sorting. Some of the teachers created sorts for social studies to use as a pre-assessment to see what kids know about the topics they will teach in the fall. They’ll begin with open sorts (having kids sort the words however they want, and then explaining to the class why they sorted like they did). What an engaging way to see what their students know!

Teachers sort words ending in –ant and –ent and look for spelling patterns

Colleagues look at last year’s data using Bear’s Spelling Inventory to determine where to begin teaching this year

Concept sorts made by teachers to use early in the year for pre-assessment in social studies

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Early in the 21st century, my friend, Sheron Brown, wrote a series of books I loved called All Sorts of Sorts. We lost Sheron to cancer several years ago, and I miss her terribly. Every time I do word sorting with teachers, vivid memories of Sheron pop into my mind, and I wish I could call to tell her what we did. Sheron and I had the privilege of presenting together at IRA, and I’ll never forget when we appeared at the conference in San Antonio to do word study and work stations with the many teachers there! We were walking to the room, and there was a huge line outside the door. “I wonder who’s presenting in there?” we pondered. And then discovered that it was us! (:

While in Humble ISD this week, I again shared Sheron’s books, available now only at www.trcabc.com. I shared many different ways to sort with teachers there. One group of teachers created a sample of a chart they’d like to make with their kids this year to remind them how to sort words during word study. Love it! They, of course, will make the chart with the class.

All Sorts of Sorts by Sheron Brown

Sample chart showing kids a variety of ways to sort words (over time, of course!)

A mom brought her daughter to training one afternoon, and she participated in the fun, too. Look at the chart she was inspired to make after listening to how her teachers should present word study! (Animals and Accessories)

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