Preparing for a new week

Update on this post:

I just spent the majority of my evening creating individualized spelling lists for my students. Last week I gave them the upper-level inventory from Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction (4th Edition). I then spent the week going through each test and grading it with the accompanying chart. I was thrilled with the results! I was able to see where my students were struggling and where they were succeeding. If I hadn’t given this inventory many of my students would have struggled with their weekly spelling lists, as they are not yet at that level. And then I had a few students who would be bored to tears because they scored well above a 6th grade spelling level.

I love that I can now challenge each student. However, I did not think I could handle doing 42 separate lists. Instead, I grouped my students within their spelling stages. Thus, I ended up with 7 groups in each class. The groups are color-coded, so the students won’t know who is higher or lower. Plus, it makes it a lot easier for me to stay organized.

I am also tied to my district’s spelling curriculum, so I must keep using it. I knew Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction really needs to be used as the sole program in the classroom and I just knew I could not commit to that. Thus, I was out at Barnes and Noble at 8pm tonight picking up the book that will be my spelling bible this year- Word Journeys: Assessment-Guided Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction.

Word Journeys is similar to WTW in that it provides spelling lists for literally dozens of rules at each spelling stage. However, I was able to easily adapt it to my district spelling program. Below is an example of the list one group of students will choose from this week (this group of students is at the middle-to-late syllables and affixes spelling stage). We will take our district spelling pretest (the top rule on the page). (I did make the decision to slightly alter the district lists, only including the spelling rule words and not the basal story vocabulary words. I don’t use my basal very much and the words never meant anything to my students as they weren’t a part of the novel/short story we were reading at the time. ) Students will put any words spelled incorrectly on their personal spelling list. They will then choose the remainder of their 20 words from the individual list they are given. Each week I will meet once with the groups to discuss and practice the rule.

Click here to see a sample group list!

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5 Responses

  1. I am also getting started with Words Their Way. I have the ESL version though, so I gave my sixth graders the Elementary screener. You referred to the one you gave as the upper-level. Is that what is is called, or are you talking about the elementary one? I was just curious because I thought the ESL version had the same English screeners, but maybe it does not… I am excited to see how it goes. I still need to go through my students’ Spanish assessments, but they are in three main groups with a couple of students who did not really fit in with a bigger group. I also like the color-coded idea.

  2. I’m curious how you determine how many words students must learn each week. If I tried to get 20 words onto a list, my colleagues would have a heart attack. Some of them don’t even like the sound of 12 words.

  3. Lindy-

    Wow! Only 12 words? Our district spelling lists vary from 20 words to 38 per week! So 20 is a nice, healthy median ground.

  4. Hey, I commented a few days ago on how much iloved your site! i am interested in this post because I am very familiar with the books you are talking about. Word Journeys, Words Their Way, and Words Words Words are 3 fantastic books. My biggest struggle is finding time to implement word sorts into my curriculum. I have tried each year to group my kids and put time into word sorts, i have failed each year. I have a 115 6th graders for about 50 instructional minutes a day. I also have 3 days a week where I can pull kids from their electives for remediation. Those kids usually need comprehension and fluency help. I have kids who know they are bad spellers and parents who are begging me for ways to help them. How do you do it? Are you seeing a trend where you are of how little grammar they know, we have kicked spelling lists and grammar rules to the side because of research. I am at a brick wall. Please let me know if you come up with anything?

  5. [...] Today Daily, the IRA blog). If spelling tests are a must, then stop by to read Sarah’s post Preparing for a New Week at the Reading Zone. This is an update on her previous post about differentiated spelling [...]

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