I love the idea of studying words. The concept allows students to examine words, notice patterns, question spellings, and cement the ideas with lots of practice, writing, and talk.
What Does Word Study Look Like in Room 7?
Depending upon your child’s word ability in second grade he/she will be placed into one a word study group. Based upon our initial spelling inventory, our class will have two word study groups. I will meet with the groups separately for fifteen minutes each day and will derive lessons and word lists from the word study resource Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (Bear et al., 2011).
On Mondays I will go over the word study words with the students by writing each word. The students will write the word on their paper as well/ We will pay specific attention to handwriting during this time. The students will then cut out their words from a strip. These words are to be kept in a small zip bag during the entire week and should be use at home and at school. Monday’s work is to “student sort” their words. Using the word strips, students will sort or organize their words in any way that they wish, trying to notice and find patterns within the words. For example, a student may sort his or her words by syllable, endings, beginning sounds, alphabetically, or any other way he/she chooses. When they have completed sorting the words, they will write their organized list down on the Student Sort section of their Word Study Work page, prepared to share at the next word study meeting on Tuesday. When students sort their words, they are growing in their ability to “compare words within a category, note patterns of consistency, and then look across categories to identify contrasts”(Williams & Phillips-Birdsong, 2006, p. 456). They are paying attention to the intricacies of the words, rather than just reading the words.
Tuesday meetings will allow time for students to discuss their sort with their peers, giving reasoning and explanation of their thought processes. After acknowledging the variety of ways students have sorted their words, I will present the “teacher sort” or the intended grouping of the words. For example, I will sort my words as they identify the patterns I am using for my sort. After we have figured it out, we will then draw and label the sections on the Word Study Work page and students have the opportunity to practice the sort using their strips or doing an activity. They are expected to complete the sort for work under Tuesday’s Teacher Sort to prepared for Wednesday.
During Wednesday’s word study meetings we will go over the correct answers from the teacher sort. We will check for understanding of the patterns and begin to do a “word hunt." A word hunt allows children the opportunity to seek out other words that follow the same pattern as their word study list. Children are required to find words with the same pattern, for example, in their authentic reading at home. When students come across a word that applies to the pattern they are practicing, they add it to the Word Hunt section of their work page. Children may find words pertaining to the sort on labels in the kitchen, in commercials on the television, and hopefully in their nightly reading. I usually require at least 3 new words. The goal in this, is that “word hunting” assists students in word analysis which is “conceptual knowledge—an understanding of the regularities, patterns, and principles of English orthography"(Williams & Phillips-Birdsong, 2006, p. 457).
At school on Thursday students come to class with the new words, excited about what they have found. The group adds each new word found to our lists and studies their initial list of words during activities, practice sorts, and for homework. Typically by Thursday, students are very familiar with their word list and its pattern. It is during Thursday’s group word study time that I will very explicitly reteach the concept or word pattern and check for understanding.
Before taking part in their test on Friday, we will review the words and the sort. Then we will have our quiz to celebrate our learning. During the quiz the students will be asked to spell and sort the words into a chart. Each word is read aloud and is spoken within a sentence to provide contextual clues. I try to grade the quizzes that day, but often they will not go home until Monday.
This Monday through Friday process allows students to become familiar with a regular classroom procedure that encourages a very authentic atmosphere of phonics, vocabulary, and spelling. The ability of students to find words that exude patterns pertaining to their word sort will broaden their personal word bank. Beyond that, it allows students to make the connection that the English language has many consistencies and many irregularities. Through the inquiry of word sorts and hunts, students grow in their understanding of orthographic knowledge (Bear et al., 2011).
Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M. A., Templeton, S. R., & Johnston, F. R. (2011). Words their way: Word study for phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction (5 ed.). New Jersey: Pearson.
Williams, C., & Phillips-Birdsong, C. (2006, December 1, 2006). Word study instruction and second-grade children’s independent writing. Journal of Literacy Research, 38, 427-465. Retrieved from www.eric.ed.gov