Words Their Way

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by njteach41, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. njteach41

    njteach41 Middle School Social Studies Teacher

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Excited!! I finally decided to use Words Their Way with my 4th graders. We don't have a spelling program in our school... actually spelling isn't a focus at all and it is a complete shame and I see the problems developing as a result.

    I purchased the main WTW book.. and I felt for my 4th graders I would need the yellow book (Within Word Patterns) and the green book (syllables and affixes). I figure I will have 3-4 spelling groups who will be working on different sorts at once.

    Any tips, suggestions, comments about Words Their Way. I'm really excited to get my 4th graders back on track with spelling this year.
     
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  3. lou reed

    lou reed Companion

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Have everyone on the same list for a few weeks, then break the class into two different groups for a few weeks, and then break into your regular sized groups once everyone seems to have the hang of it. It's a great program but it's hard to start right into differentiation right off the bat, especially if your kids haven't experienced it before. You'll have way more success if you spend time teaching how to use it before you begin the actual differentiation.

    Oh, and the pretesting is really valuable. It makes it very clear who belongs in what group and is a great tool to use during p/t conferences and while writing report card feedback.
     
  4. LKcoby11

    LKcoby11 Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2010

    love WTW

    Hello! I love Words Their Way. I am also a fourth grade teacher, and have found that there is a huge range in terms of word pattern understanding and transfer for my students. In the past, the majority of my students have been in the "Within Word Patterns" (yellow book) and "Syllables and Affixes" (green book) stages. However, there is usually one group in the Letter-Name (red) and Derivational Relations (blue) stages.

    I love this approach to teaching word study because:

    a) it's rooted in a lot of great research that supports how people learn and retain word knowledge

    b) the books give you detailed descriptions about how to conduct the lessons so that you don't have to reinvent the wheel (especially when you are planning for multiple groups)

    c) you can meet all students where they are currently performing and foster success for everyone

    d) the lessons take very little time and require minimal preparation

    e) the lesson and practice routines are the same each week, therefore predictable for students

    f) you teach students how to compare and contrast patterns and internalize these patterns for lasting word knowledge as opposed to memorizing a weekly spelling list comprised of random words that they soon forget

    g) because this program is inherently differentiated, you can move as quickly or slowly as necessary for each group. I have, at times, spent multiple weeks on on pattern if children in that group are having difficulty internalizing/transferring the pattern

    h) the lessons are very systematic and build upon learned concepts--no random word lists!! :)


    Below is my method for implementing WTW. It is by no means perfect, but it has worked for me.

    - I conduct the BEAR assessment in September to identify which stages the students are performing in and to develop groups

    -I meet with each group on Mondays to introduce the pattern, model the word sort, and guide them through word sorting on their own (I write the model sort words on index cards and each group has their words copied on different colored paper for 2 reasons: 1) to help me organize which words go to which groups and 2) if a word is dropped or lost, I can identify which child it belongs to based on the color of the word)

    -Throughout the week, students practice sorting words and engage in activities described in WTW

    -Each night, the students have word study homework that correlates with the WTW routines. Because most of the activities are not written down, I ask the parents/older siblings/baby sitters/etc. to work with the students and sign their homework indicating that they completed the activity for that evening (the homework activity takes only 5-10 minutes each night). Here is the schedule of HW activities:

    *Mon.--> sort words on own and write a brief description of what the words in each category have in common

    *Tues.--> buddy sort--parent/sibling/etc. reads word aloud without showing it to the student; student points to word group header to indicate which group the word belongs in (students must hear the pattern instead of seeing it to sort)

    *Wed.--> word hunt--students reread a text that they have already read and find 2-3 words in the text that follow each of the patterns for that week

    *Thurs.--> writing sort--parent/sibling/etc. reads word aloud and student writes the word under the appropriate heading


    -Some people give weekly quizzes and others don't. I do occasionally or I may dictate sentences that have the word patterns for that week in them and have the students write the sentences to check for transfer. Other weeks, I don't do a formal assessment, but rather use the children's writing during workshop as a way of assessing transfer of skills. It depends on the pattern, the group, etc.

    -I conduct the BEAR assessment 4 times/year:

    *Sept. to i.d. current stage and group students

    *Dec./Jan. to monitor progress and regroup as needed

    *March to monitor progress and regroup as needed

    *June to assess overall progress and provide next teacher with info.



    I know this was a really long post but I really do love WTW and I believe that it is one of the best ways to meet students where they are and provide them with the phonic/word knowledge they need at their respective performance levels. I hope this helps you as you embark on your WTW journey! ;)
     

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