Archive of ‘Spelling’ category

Words Their Way in the Upper Primary Classes

Over the past three weeks in our Year Level Team meeting, our upper primary group has focused on the planning and implementation of Words Their Way into our literacy block. We started by completing the Upper Spelling Inventory and then used the on-line tool to assess what features of language students were already familiar with, and where our starting points would be. The on-line tool also helped to establish groups for instruction, clearly indicating the developmental stage each student is at. This gives a clear starting point for instruction and allow for tracking of progress.

We discussed our findings as a group and decided that to get our heads around the process and to introduce students to a routine, we would start with the same word sorts. This helped both students and teachers. We established the aim of word sorts – to categorise words as determined by sound and then visual cues, and to look for patterns in our language. Routines and ways of working were also practised. Students worked in small groups and pairs on activities such as: word sorts, speed sorts, blind sorts and word hunts. Support staff were utilised during these sessions to support individual students targeted through the assessment process.

The Professional Development session run by Christine Killey helped us to develop our understanding of the important aspects of language to communicate to students:

  • sounds each letter makes – including the letters that make more than one sound
  • vowels and consonants – and how ‘y’ makes a vowel sound in many words
  • syllables – including open and closed syllables
  • identifying part of speech – noun, verb, etc.
  • alphabetic layer – pattern – meaning
And the process to use:
  • demonstrate, sort, check and reflect
  • make it fun! and active – Mexican Wave, YMCA (vowels and Consonants) – ‘V’ Power – Every syllable has a vowel sound, every sentence has a verb. Identify syllables by using robotic movements – or jumping, zombies, etc.

As an upper primary group we are following a weekly routine, which looks similar to this:



Monday – Introduce words in groups. Demonstrate. Independent sort

Tuesday – Sort and write in Word Study Book. Discuss patterns.

Wednesday – Blind sort with partner, Blind writing sort, Sentences – focus on different types

Thursday – Word Hunt, Draw and label, Brainstorming, Dictionary

Friday – Test, Dictation – Use of words with similar patterns.


In our evaluation of the program so far we have found:

  • students are active and engaged in the learning process at their level
  • the discussions that are taking place are valuable
  • shared language is being established amongst students- vowel, consonants, open and closed syllables, short and long vowels and the symbols that represent these
  • meeting the needs of each student
  • clear goals are established for each student
  • targeted intervention is occurring
  • shared practices are providing consistency across classes

Possible next steps are:

  • involving the students in short term goal setting
  • using goals to focus help from support staff and parents
  • extension activities to challenge more able students



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Words Their Way

Notes from reading:
Introduction can range from teacher directed sorts to students centred open sorts

Important components of a program:
Repeated sorts moving from modelled to supported to independence
Include homework sorts and speed to develop automaticity
Buddy sorts
Blind sorts
Writing sorts
Blind writing sorts
Word Hunts
Draw and label – different meaning of words
Games and other activities
Reflect – Compare and declare ( position, frequency, and related words)

Questions to pose:

  • What do you notice about these words? How are they alike?
  • Where in the word do you find the spelling pattern?
  • In your word hunts, which pattern did you find more frequently? Which pattern has the most words in the column? The fewest?
  • If you’re not sure how to spell a word with a long a sound, how would you know which pattern to use? What would be your best bet? Why?
  • Can you divide the word into parts? What is the base word? Are there any prefixes or suffixes?
  • Do the word parts give you information about the word’s meaning?
  • Can you think of other words that have the same sound (or root, base word, etc)?
  • What did you learn that might help you be a better speller or a better reader?

Reference book

The Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists (Fry and Kress, 2006)



Sample letter to parents:

Dear Parents/ Caregivers,
Your child will be bringing home a collection of spelling words weekly that have been introduced in class. Each night of teh week your child is expected to do a different activity to ensure that these words and the spelling principles they represent are mastered. These activities have been modelled and practised in school, so your child can teach you how to do them.
Monday Remind your child to sort words into categories like the ones we did in school. Your child should read each word aloud during this activity. Ask your child to explain to you why the words are sorted in a particular way – what does the sort reveal about spelling in general? Ask your child to sort them a second time as fast as possible. You may want to time them.
Tuesday Do a blind sort with your child. Lay down a word from each category as a header and then read the rest of teh words aloud. Your child must indicate where the words goes without seeing it. Lay it down and let your child move it if he or she is wrong. Repeat if your child makes more than one error.
Wednesday Assist your child in doing a word hunt, looking in a book they have already read for words that have the same sound, pattern, or both. Try to find two or three for each category.
Thursday Do a writing sort to prepare for the Friday test. As you call out the words in a random order your child should write them in categories. Call out any words your child misspells a second or even a third time.

Thank you for your support. Together we can help your child make valuable progress!



Suggested Schedule for students who sort words
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Sort introduced; studentssort at least once independently. Re-sort and writing sort:first speed sort Re-sort and Blind buddy sort Re-sort: second Speed sort andWord Hunt Testing and games
Homework: Sort again Homework: Re-sort andblind sort Homework: word hunt Homework: Blind writing sort

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Words Their Way