As you know we started a new spelling program last year. This program concentrates on a variety of skills through both letter and sound patterns. We hope that students will learn how letters sound alone and in combination with others rather than just memorizing letter combinations for a test.
Students are given a Spelling Inventory (spelling test) at the beginning of the year to help determine their developmental spelling stage. A child's developmental spelling stage is determined by analyzing the spelling of the words in the inventory to notice spelling patterns that a child is using but confusing in their writing. Once a spelling stage is determined a child is given a list of anywhere from ten to twenty-five spelling words and/or pictures to study for the week. The list is aligned with the child's needs for that particular spelling stage. The spelling stages are Emergent, Letter Name, Within Word, Sylables and Affixes, and Derivational. The Spelling Inventory is also given two other times during the year to help assess progress and inform instructional practices. A child may move ahead or behind in a level based on his/her weekly assessments and the Primary Spelling Inventories. The goal of this program is for all students to be successful and learn patterns at his/her own level.
Words Their Way is a hands-on approach to practice spelling patterns in words. It allows students to manipulate words and/or pictures into different categories. This sorting process helps students analyze and examine, compare and contrast, and differentiate the patterns in words. This hands-on approach not only motivates students to practice spelling words but it also helps students internalize the spelling patterns in words for the future. Many of you are familiar with practicing for spelling by memorization. We are working on understanding WHY words are spelled the way they are and learning the rules in the English language.
Below you will find a brief explanation of some of the activities that may be used for homework. We have practiced these activities in class, so all students should know how to do the activities.
Sort: Sorting words as they were sorted that day at school.
Blind Sort: Lay down a word or letter from each category as a header and then say the rest of the words or pictures aloud. Your child must indicate where the word goes without seeing it. Lay it down and let your child move it if he or she is wrong.
Word Hunt: Look for words in a book, magazine, or newspaper that have the same sound, pattern, or both. Try to find two or three words for each category.
Speed Sort: Take out your cards. Shuffle the cards. Get your watch ready. Set it to zero. Press start and begin sorting your cards. When you finish sorting, press stop and record your time.
This process helps students transfer their knowledge of words to their own reading and writing.
Through word study you will see…
· Students introduced to a new group of words with a specific feature as its focus each week.
· Students working on hands-on activities to sort words with common characteristics into defined groups.
· Students thinking hard about whether these features mean they have to HEAR what the words have in common or SEE what they have in common (or both).
At home, your child will bring home a page of words each week. There will also be an assignment that your child has practiced in class. These words are not meant to be memorized or written multiple times for rote practice. Instead, we ask that you supervise each night’s sort.
We appreciate your support as we begin a new program that we believe will greatly benefit our students. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.