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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Some thoughts on Words their Way

So, I have now been using Words their Way in my classsroom for the last 10 weeks.  It works well with my Daily 5 approach.  Students spend time at school working with their words and with with me learning about their word patterns.

I have developed the plan that the words are current for 2 weeks.  Students complete activities for me and do activities on their own with the same set of words before I assess their ability to spell them.  (Spelling is still a grade, and it still matters to parents, so while I try to encourage the concept of word study, the kids still think of it as spelling.)

 I have four different word groups.  Two groups are at different points in the Within Word stage, one is in the Syllable Juncture stage, and the last group is in the Derivational Constancy stage.  Most of my direct instruction time is with the groups in the Within Words stage.  My time with the other groups is spent making sure that they know the meanings of the words.

Here is what I have found so far:  The students in the Within Word stage are not having great carryover into their every day spelling.  Even though we have student CVCe since the beginning of the year, they still do not put that rule to use on their own.  When prompted, they might know what to do, but they rarely do it independently.  The other two groups are growing in their knowledge of word structure and vocabulary.  They were already good spellers, and their daily writing shows this. 

I am working to put more into my Within Words groups to help them move along.  Do you have any ideas?  Are you seeing progress with your students?  Certainly, I don't believe that these students are being harmed by WtW, but it is also not having the effect that I had hoped for either.  What do you think?  Do you have something that you are finding to be more effective?  I would love to hear your ideas!


Runde's Room said...

I have heard a lot about The Working With Words program ... I'm anxious to read more about your findings. We don't have a formal focus on spelling in my board anymore, and I really see the results of this in my classroom. I try to sneak in spelling lessons whenever I can, redirect students to the Word Wall constantly, but I definitely need something new ... I hope my kids aren't too old to break the poor spelling habits they have already learned.

Runde's Room

4321Teach said...

We use Words Their Way at my school as well. I have used it for a few years. A couple of things I have noticed over the years are: transfering spelling to writing may take time; use a lot of writing in your word work time, not just spelling practice; start with a list that is lower than you think the students are. Give them a chance at success. We also keep a Word sort notebook, so we can refer back to our previous lists that might have that vowel sound.
My low group is totally struggling with transfer right now too! I do new lists every week. I plan to split the lists into 2 separate shorter lists. We'll see if it works! Hang in there! I hope this helped!

Jennifer Gibson said...

Thank you for the encouragement! I hope to begin to see more carryover, too!

Kim said...

Hi Jennifer:

I have had the same experience that you described with WTW and my sixth graders.

There are a few posts at

where "Ms Bongers" talks about integrating spelling back into writing. She uses the QuickWord booklets for reference. I have also found these to be helpful with students who have difficulty transferring "spelling words" into writing...

Good luck with your efforts,

Finding JOY in 6th Grade