Are you ready for a Word Study program that just might rock your world?
Just as the reading and writing workshops were born out of studying the habits of great readers and writers, I spent a little time researching the habits of great spellers. I read lots of articles from national spelling bee winners and even interviewed a few people from my life that have always had a knack for spelling things correctly. From there, I gathered my notes and turned them into mini-lessons that might encourage students to become people who find patterns, look for things to alphabetize, or notice when words break spelling patterns in their every day life. Essentially, this curriculum is designed to encourage kids to become word lovers and word investigators by nature. These lessons are designed to provide kids with what I call spelling habits of mind. These units are designed to give your spellers a teaching-tip that is good for ALL spellers, and then they will go off to complete their differentiated spelling tasks, games, and activities to help them become better spellers.
Based off of the spelling inventory (from Words Their Way), my students are in one of three groups that I call “spelling clubs:” emergent spellers, letter-name spellers, and within word spellers. I like this term because the students don’t know what I’m doing. For example, they think that the yellow group (emergent spellers) just “happen to be studying blends this week” and the orange group (within word spellers) just “happen to be studying long ‘a’ patterns.” I tell them eventually everyone will study everything, so I can trick them a little better. I personally don’t enjoy the spelling curriculums I’ve used in the past where there are multiple lists within the same skill. Kids know when the class is studying “long /a/” and their list consists of words like “cake” and “rake” while other kids are learning works like “obligate” and “explain.” They quickly figure out which “group” they are apart of. I like to think that this method is a bit less obvious.
In an effort to meet students where they are, they will work on word pattern lists that are designed specifically for their level. I start my students on the continuum and then move them right along lesson by lesson. There is of course, room to jump groups. I will administer a quick assessment if I feel like a student is rapidly progressing during the year. They are not “stuck” in any group!
The word pattern cycles last for 10 days. After every 4th word pattern cycle, my class participates in a class-wide pattern study on the same skill. This skill is based on word structures or meanings (like compound words, posessives, etc…). These units can be swapped in or out based on need.
Days 1-6 are spent doing various practice activities with their list of words. Days 7-10 are spent doing group assessments, spelling games, or makeup-work. I keep the same routine for consistency.
Below are the Word Units of Study for the year.
These were written with all spellers in mind. The units aren’t skill-specific (like a whole unit on long vowels or diphthongs) but rather they are mini-lessons with tips and strategies to become a life-long lover of words.
The spelling pattern cycles have a set list of words that students will work with but they will be on the lookout for words that match their pattern, so their collection of words will grow tremendously during the 10-day stretch. I do let parent know about the words that their child will be studying but I send a letter home explicitly stating that this is NOT a spelling list to drill. I ask them to jot some words down that they might happen upon during their nightly reading.
There are word lists, home lists, and word logs for each of these word pattern and skill-specific cycles.
Here are some examples of the activities done during the 10-day cycle.
Just as we celebrate the end of a reading or writing unit, we also celebrate the end of a spelling unit! The first unit is celebrated by making a class book with our word-study goals for the year. Some units will be celebrated with special projects and the last unit is celebrated with a class-wide (or grade level-wide) Spelling Bee!
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Wife, Mama of 2, and apron wearing primary educator from Indianapolis.