What is Word Study? Research suggests that the brain is a pattern detector, rather than an applier of rules (Cunningham, 2004). If our brains are indeed "pattern detectors," then we should provide our students with plenty of opportunity to investigate and organize those patterns.
Fortunately, we are now seeing dramatic and exciting changes in the teaching of spelling and word recognition. The field of "word study" provides students an opportunity to manipulate words (and parts of words) in meaningful and enjoyable activities and games. Reading ability can develop dramatically as word study lessons develop experience with:
•Letters and their corresponding sounds.
•Components of words, such as roots, prefixes, and suffixe
•Patterns of how words are spelled, such as word families.
•How parts of words often will give hints to the meaning of a word, as well as its spelling or pronunciation.
Word study activities call for active problem solving. Students are encouraged to look for spelling patterns, form hypotheses, predict outcomes, and test them. These activities require students to continually ask themselves, "What do I know about this new word, and how is it similar to words that I already know?
This book presents a highly practical approach to assessing children's spelling and word knowledge abilities and offering effective, appropriate instruction. Included is the Developmental Spelling Analysis (DSA), a dictated word inventory that enables teachers to quickly and easily evaluate students' stages of spelling development and their knowledge of important orthographic features. Detailed guidelines are set forth for engaging students in hands-on word study that is tailored to their specific strengths and weaknesses. Validated and field-tested, the instructional techniques described here reflect the author's many years of classroom experience. Particularly useful features of the book include narrative "snapshots" of children at different stages of spelling development; numerous examples of student work; suggested word sort activities for each orthographic feature; lists of recommended books and poems; and a focus on fostering a love of words through word play and language appreciation. Provided in the appendices are reproducible forms for administering the DSA, plus a list of over 12,000 words arranged by sound, pattern, and meaning-related features.
Cunningham, P. (2004). Phonics they use: Words for reading and writing. New York: Longman.
Here is a new way to use Word Study in your classroom!
Purchase the Word Study Power Points for sort A-K here!
I created a supplemental tool that goes along with Kathy Ganske's Word Study program. I found that my students weren't very engaged with the pocket chart and word study cards. I worked with mostly English Language Learners who didn't even know what some of the words meant. I was going to be observed by my Principal the following week on a Word Study lesson and decided that I needed to make it more meaningful. I came up with the idea to make a powerpoint that showed the word and the illustration. Sometimes, I even added actions or sounds to the slide. My students loved this activity because they were engaged, which increased their comprehension. Eventually, I added slides where students had to change a word to make a new word, they had to look at illustrations and name the word, use the word in a sentence, and analyze the spelling pattern. Since this tool has been a great success in my class, I was asked to teach a professional development class on it for other teachers in my district. It's been such a big hit that I decided to share it with you!