Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spelling with Words Their Way and a new student

I don't know how it's done in other districts but in my district it seems that spelling programs aren't dictated by district or school, but grade levels or teachers can choose their program.  Many teachers use the Harcourt spelling lists that accompany the week's studies.  This just doesn't meet the needs of my ELLs, so I was thrilled when working as resource teacher with a wonderful third grade team they piloted Words Their Way.  

Words Their Way is a spelling program that is based on the development of each student in terms of letter/word/pattern awareness.  I really love this program!  It provides automatic differntiation.  Students are all assessed and then grouped according to their performance.  The general assessment assesses their spelling of beginning and ending sounds, short vowels, blends, long vowel patterns, etc..

At the beginning of the year I looked all over the internet for Words Their Way resources.  I found one great website that helped with the general setup of the words their way materials and routine.  Check it out!  It suggested that each student have their own folder, notebook, envelope.  Here is what ours looks like:

Messy bin with folders that are color coded for groups
 Each folder has a number on it that corresponds to the numbers my students are assigned at the beginning of the year, this is more for me since the kids remember their color easily.
 Inside the folder is a notebook and envelope where keep their cut up words for their sort.
I should keep a crayon in here to for students to color the back of their sort before cutting it, this helps in case a student misplaces one of their words...happens way too often!
Here is an example of one of our weekly routines.  Students write the sort in their notebook and write sentences to go with their words.

Here is a look at our routine (on a good week)
Monday: Introduce new sort, cut and practice.
Tuesday: Sort and write in notebook (see above)
Wednesday: Blind sort - work with partner and one partner says words while the other without seeing the words identifies which category the word belongs in.
Thursday: Students work in groups of 2-3.  Students take turns choosing a word and saying the word in a sentence of at least 5 words.  This is great practice for my ELLs to use the words in context and they get super excited when they can say sentences of more than 5 words.
Friday: Practice with partner before taking the test.

In my next posts I'll share more about homework, supplemental resources and tools.  If your team is thinking about using Words Their Way, I highly recommend it!!!!

Onto other news...I've been sooooo lucky this year because my class has not changed once since we started the school year.  No students left and no students moved in.  This is unheard of in our school, but somehow I got lucky!  Our first grade bilingual teacher has had more move-ins and move outs ever, it's OUT OF CONTROL!  But Monday marked the end of my change-free year.  

My new student is straight from Mexico and speaks NO English.  This is a good challenge for me, because I know this won't be the last time I find myself in this situation.  However, it is a challenge because all of my students are English dominant at this point in the year and we're really working hard so they'll be confident English readers and writers.  My new student needs very intense ESL instruction, he needs basic English vocabulary that my other students have already mastered.  

So, I'm looking for a solution.  He will be in an English classroom next year so I need to get him ready.  I think I'll have him on Rosetta Stone, taking home Reading A-Z books in English and Spanish, buddying up with someone, and I'm going to investigate the Words Their Way ESL component as well.  

Pin It


  1. Hey!! I'm having a giveaway with all the word sorts I use with my first graders!! I just posted about Words Their Way yesterday:) stop by and leave a comment on my post and I'll put you in the drawing to win the packet!!

  2. Your whole district exits kids after second grade? That is ridic.

    I tried WTW earlier this year because the spelling words in my program were not just working for my class. However, I found that I had kids ALL OVER the spectrum... like they were way too far apart to group appropriately. So it sort of fell apart because I couldn't keep up with seeing all of my groups and challenging everyone AND still doing our regular literacy stuff.......... ugh.

    But someday.... when I have a job in a real school.... I want to try again. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. Hey Jill...they don't exit, but they are integrated into a regular education classroom. They then receive support from a Bilingual Resource teacher...but still 3rd grade is a very tough transitional year.

      I can see how WTW might be hard for a multiage class because you really would have kids all over the place. I hadn't thought of that, way to rain on my WTW parade! ;)

    2. Haha!! I don't know if it would be hard with EVERY multiage class.... but as far as me, I had one kid come in basically a non-reader. And I have a girl who has read all the Harry Potter books. And only having 12 kids, I had maybe 2 kids who were close to the same level. I think if my class was bigger, I'd have a better chance of being able to make homogeneous groups!!!

    3. I have used Words Their way for 4 years now. I love it. This past year I worked in a 3/4 grade classroom and the years before that were grades 3-5. I find WTW was extremely useful for a multi-aged classroom. It let the kids work at their own ability level. This past year I had the same situation where 1 student couldn't read very well and a student that read the Harry Potter books. It worked because that student was challenged in his own group and was done quickly enough and could then take over for me. (I was working with the low student.) He ( or anybody else from his group)worked with the student and was able to teach him. Kids love to teach each other.
      I am so happy that my school found WTW and we all use it. Last year, I had 4 spelling groups for 14 kids. That is my norm. This year I expect to have 3. In the past, I have had 6 groups for 18 kids. The day was structured very differently. Once you give it a little while, it works and is so beneficial for all the students and myself.

    4. Jill,
      I, too, hope to work at a "real" school someday. Ha, ha.

  3. For your ell drill him on sight words and blends like - tion
    -able etc...we have a Spanish immersion program so early exit isn't an option

  4. I really like the idea of having kids pick a word and then SAY a sentence! Such a simple, but great! idea :o)

    1. Hi Corrina,

      It really does make all the difference! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. I think I could incorporate it into my Harcourt Journey's Program. Where can I find this? I have a Math Their Way book. I have never used it though. I like the way it allows free exploration of different skills. I might try to use it this year for centers. I'm scared to deviate from the curriculum assigned by the district. Our county was a level 1 throughout except for one of the Junior highs.

  6. Appreciate with this article having lots of sites that help too one of the best site I ever like when I need the Assignment Help is AssignmentFirm.com

  7. Hey,

    I was having some problems finding a quick way to get spelling/word study assessments graded, and came across an app that helps with that. It’s called SmArTy-K12. The apps lets you plug in your spelling inventories and then assess your students’ responses manually or online. The app runs the grading calculations for me, covering points for initial and final consonants, short vowels, etc. It cut out hours of time I would have spent grading spelling tests.

    Now, I will say: it isn’t free. But, given how many hours I saved using it, it’s worth the pricetag. I’d say my free time’s worth the money. And I can avoid the headache of making sure that I’ve got my point totals done correctly, so thank goodness for that.

    It’s on the App Store here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smarty-k12/id767644570
    The developer’s site, which has some more examples of what the app looks like in action, is here: http://www.spk12ed.com/smarty-k12.html. Go take a look at it and tell me what you think about it. I hope you love it as much as me!

  8. good information http://top-10-writers.com/grademiners-com-review/ it is useful and informative there are a lot of thing and info