Words Their Way
Cobb County has adopted a new Language Arts program and I am very excited about it. Words Their Way ~Word Study In Action is a part of this adoption. This word study approach allows students to learn their words at their individual level of instruction and teaches them how words work. It is a new approach to teaching spelling. Each week begins with a word sort focus in which students will learn to sort, compare and contrast word features in each category, make discoveries, become more fluent readers, and increase their vocabulary through word meanings. It's only natural that their comprehension will increase as a result of this program.
WHAT IS A WORD STUDY?
Word study is just what it sounds like – a study of words. Students are assessed through out the year and place into small groups based on their current spelling ability. Students move through weekly word study patterns and activities during the week with a word sort test on Fridays. Students lists will be on a word study PATTERN (example – how prefixes uni-, mono-, -bi change the meaning of a word OR how to add suffixes such as -ion and -ian to base words ending in -t and -ic.) The quiz on Fridays will be on the pattern from that week with 10 -15 words being called aloud as student write them in the correct category. A Spell Check Test will also be given after every 2 to 3 spelling sorts are mastered. The 5th grade Word Sorts focus mainly on prefixes and suffixes and root words, what they mean, how they affect the meaning and the spelling of words. They become very complex.
WHY A "WORD STUDY" INSTEAD OF A "TRADITIONAL" SPELLING PROGRAM?
Research studies clearly indicate that memorization of lists of "spelling words" does not promote the development of spelling skills. In the past when we’ve used this traditional approach of "everyone gets the same weekly list and test on Friday", many students who got a 100% on their spelling test could not spell most of the words in their writing! Memorizing a list of words and getting 100% on weekly tests does not necessarily mean your child is a good speller. It may just mean they are good at memorizing words for a test.
WHAT ARE THE STUDENTS DOING IN CLASS?
Students will compare and contrast words by sound to categorzie similar sounds. This helps them associate certain sounds with letters, syllable patterns, and spelling conventions. Spelling patterns help students to recognize similar patterns in related words in their reading. This increases their ability to identify and understand more complex words in their independant reading. Students learn to categorize words and word parts by meaning and parts of speech.
WHAT DOES THE HOMEWORK LOOK LIKE?
Homework will consist of spelling sorts and other optional activies Monday through Thursday. The quiz will be on Fridays unless I feel the class needs additional time for the word study.
Here are some suggestions for practicing the words for the upcoming quiz.
- Sort the words - Your child should read each word aloud during this activity. Have your child explain why the words are sorted in those particular categories. Have your child sort the words again, but his time it should be done quickly.
- No Peeking Sort - Lay down a word from each category as a header and then read the rest of the words aloud to your child. Have your child tell you what category the word belongs in without SEEING the word. Lay down the word in the category your child identifies, but give them a chance to change their mind. Repeat if needed for more difficult words.
- Word Hunt - Assist your child in doing a word hunt. This involves your child looking for words in a familiar book, magazine, newspaper that have the same sound, pattern, or both. Try to find 2-3 words for each category.
- Blind Writing Sort - As you call out the words in a random order, your child should place them in the correct sorting category. For misspelled words, you should repeat as needed until they are spelled correctly.
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