September 21, 2015

The Primary Sisters: Organizing Word Work

The Primary Sisters: Organizing Word Work: Can you imagine 6 year old's trying to keep up with 8-10 little pieces of paper for a week or two? Yeah me either. For those of us that ...

Organizing Word Work

Words Their Way
Since it's almost time for the kids to go back to school. I wanted to update some of our popular post about teaching Words Their Way. Words Their Way is a developmental phonics, spelling and vocabulary program. It takes the place of traditional spelling approaches such as skill instruction and repeated practice. Now as most programs that come across our desk as teachers, we know that we need to tweak them to make them our own and make them work for our students. Well WTW is no different. I personally for my students know that repeated practice is not always a bad thing. That's why we created our word work bundles, because we love to sort and do all the hands on activities but we also wanted to give students paper and pencil practice with the words (insert gasp). During our Literacy stations or centers, students have a work on word station that includes a worksheet or activity that has their sort on it. These are fun activities that give students another way to practice their sounds and see and read their words in a different context. Students sort their words daily and during word work centers they will do a worksheet which includes an activity with their sort.
How to Organize WTW
Can you imagine 6 year old's trying to keep up with 8-10 little pieces of paper for a week or two? Yeah me either. For those of us that use words their way as our phonic/spelling instruction, the hardest part is how to organize and have students keep up with their sorts. After trying several different ways, I finally came up with a solution that works for me. This year I purchased pencil pouches that students use to store their sorts in each week. These are great and better than the baggies I've used before. The pencil pouches zip so no little pieces of paper find their way onto the floor. However, when dealing with 6 year old's ,we know all things are possible, so just in case, I also have my students turn their sorts over and write their initials on each one. If one makes it to the floor, we can return it to their rightful owner. I've included some pictures so your can see it in action.

This short vowel word work bundle will give much needed practice for short vowel patterns. We use these during our Literacy block for word work stations. This pack included a variety of activities and printable worksheets to making learning fun. I like using these because they are not the same sheets every day. It gives
the students a variety of ways to see their words.

September 15, 2015

Words Their Way....

The first few weeks of school are not only filled with lots of practicing with rules and procedures but also lots of assessments. Let's be real we pretty much know who can and can't and who needs to sit where and all that good stuff by 8:30 am on the first day. As teachers we can assess our students without any formal tools. We just have that teacher instinct. So as an educator I have seen lots of fads come and go but the basics stay the same. Young learners needs a good phonics/spelling program or plan. Our county gives each school a choice as to what they will use. My school choose to adopt Words Their Way. This is our third year using this approach and I must say by far this has been the most successful program for our students. During the first week of school my students are given a spelling inventory. After "grading" these assessments students are placed on differentiated spelling list. The majority of my students are on the grade level list which is the Word Sorts for Letter Name book. Most students within this stage can identify initial and final sounds and most vowel sounds. A few high flyers are placed in the word within a word stage. These learners already have a good phonetic foundation and are ready for blends and word endings. Students who do not score well are placed on letter naming and beginning sounds sorts. This is the best program for differentiation. Each 1-2 weeks students receive a new spelling list. Students cut a part the sorts and begin their spelling practice. I try to meet with each spelling group once a week to check for understanding. However during word work time, I monitor students as they sort their words and match to pictures or sort words with headers. I so wish I had pictures. I will definitely take some post this week. I love walking around during word work and hearing students actually sounding out their words. It amazes me, even kiddos that I think know the words will still sound them out! As the week progresses, we do different activities in our literacy stations with our words. At the end of the week students glue the sort into their word work notebook and use that to practice for our spelling test. Another reason  I love this approach is I have watched students all week sort their words, so when I assess I can give an actual test or  can use their word work notebook as an assessment. One of the reasons I decided to join the TPT world was to make different activities using the sorts as the words. I love that my students have authentic activities to go along with their spelling instruction.