Monday, March 20, 2017

Words Their Way - How I Make it Work!

Words Their Way can be a bit of a daunting undertaking! Six years of working with it in my classroom has led me to the structure and set up that I currently use. In my second grade class, the students make dramatic jumps in their spelling pattern knowledge and WTW really accelerates their learning.

Let's jump into creating word study groups!

Spelling inventories help you to determine which spelling patterns students have a strong knowledge of, which ones they are using but confusing, and which ones they don't know at all.

The Words Their Way books provide you with different inventories (primary, elementary, and upper level inventory)

Personally, I prefer to use the spelling inventory version by Second Story Window. Check it out here! This version uses the same words, but changes up the format so that you can use the same sheet for the whole year. It makes it very easy to see individual student growth through the year.

Once you have the student inventories, it's vital to put the students into groups based on the spelling patterns they are working on. I try to keep my groups between 2 and 5 students because I want to make sure that students are getting an opportunities to talk through the sorting with a peer, and I want to make sure that all students are participating in the sorting.

Having lots of groups can be confusing (for me and the kids)! I keep a record in my Words Their Way binder, but I also keep a board up in my classroom that I can refer to easily and so the kids can remember the name and number of their sort.

Once you have your groups, then it's time to get started sorting and thinking!

Here's the rundown of a normal week of Words Their Way in my room.


Each Monday my groups receive their new sorts. They have to cut out their words, sort them as a group, and then raise their hands to show me they are ready to check over their work. I make sure that they understand the sorts and we have a short conversations about what the words mean. (This is an often overlooked component of Words Their Way that we go back to on Tuesdays.) Once checked, the students then write the words in the Sort and Search sheets.

Take a peek below at one of my groups working together to sort their words!

When finished with sorting and writing, my students have to think about a tip or a trick that will help them remember how to sort the words in the future. I've found that this section really makes the students explain the pattern in their own words. After that, they can work on the word search. This word search serves the purpose of occupying the quicker groups, giving me time to work with the other groups that require more help or time to finish.


On Tuesdays we take about 10 minutes out of our Daily 5 and CAFE language arts schedule to reinforce the meanings of the words with a Matching Meaning sheet. This is meant to be a quick review consisting of a definition/picture match section, a cloze sentence section, and a find the word paragraph. It helps to give the words meaningful context!

Tuesday - Thursday

During our Daily 5 time on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, my Word Work station is made up of games that help students practice sorting their words for the week. I put out the correlating games on the work work table, and students can reference the Word Sort bulletin board to remember which sort is their own. I have Connect 4 or Domino games for each sort all the way from Letter Name Alphabetic and Within Word Pattern to Syllable and Affixes.


On Wednesdays we complete another quick spelling activity to continue working with the words. Our Spelling Foldables address a variety of spelling and vocabulary skills. We only do one per week and so switching the 5 different activities keeps the students from becoming bored. 

The Consonants and Vowels Foldable is particularly helpful for students working with different long vowels patterns!

Spelling Foldables


On Thursday we head into the computer lab for about 20 minutes to practice our words with the SpellingCity website/app. My kids LOVE playing these games and the extra practice is GREAT for them! What's even better is that the site already has all the lists typed up for you! (Cause you do not want to be typing in 200 some lists of words...) I often assign my students SpellingCity for homework as well. A subscription to the site costs only 60 a bucks a year and is SO worth it!


Finally, on Fridays my students all pull their words out of their baggies and do a final sort. They then check the sort, either by conferencing with me, or by looking back at their Sort and Search sheet and then glue them into their notebook. When all members of their group have finished the final sort, I call them to me to take their spelling quiz. 

As of right now, the spelling quiz is nothin' fancy. I just call out 10 words from the sort, making sure that I hit on all the spelling patterns. I've got a few plans to jazz up my quizzes, but you'll have to wait and see!

And that's basically how I set up Words Their Way in my classroom! 

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