Spelling Words Their Way

photo_2_2.jpgThe spelling program Words their Way (WTW) is a valuable part of AIS‘s literacy program.  Generally the development of spelling skills is critical to being literate in English.  Quick and accurate word comprehension helps readers focus on interpreting larger text. On the other hand, conventional spelling instruction is not long lasting. This approach relies on memorizing temporary word lists.   Research indicates that regular practice with hands-on manipulation of word features is essential (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton  Johnston, 2015).  Such activities help children generalize their word knowledge into reading and writing.  The research-based program WTW was designed with these considerations.

AIS has had a successful journey using WTW.  Two years ago, the elementary school adopted this program to differentiate spelling instruction.  One of our early adopters was elementary teacher Allen Lee.   He advocated its benefits to young learners’ literacy.  I decided to catch up with Mr. Lee on his thoughts about using WTW these past two years.

A student practices sorting words

How has WTW been different from traditional spelling instructions?

Allen Lee:  The biggest difference is that spelling is no longer rote learning.  Everyone does not study from the same list of words.  Instead the word list is differentiated to the student’s ability.  Students regularly practice learning these words through hands-on manipulation activities.  Indeed, this program is not about memorizing a list of weekly words and then forgetting them the following week.

How has WTW impacted your student’s spelling?

Allen Lee:  WTW builds one skill upon another.   So students are given appropriate time to master these skills.   Naturally they begin using what they’ve learned into their own writing.  Seeing students’ spelling improve in authentic writing tasks is rewarding.

What is one advice you can offer to our AIS parents helping your child to spell?

Pairs of students collaborate in studying words

.Allen Lee:  Don’t push your kids to spell correctly all the time.  You want kids to take ownership in their writing.

AIS elementary school has a strong literacy program. This year’s elementary IOWA spelling test scores are above the 80th national percentile ranking.  Much of this must be credited to all elementary teachers like Mr. Lee.    They strive to provide rigorous spelling instructions appropriate to each child.  Indeed I believe their continual efforts will only strengthen our students’ literacy skills in the years to come.

Bear, D. R., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2015). Words their Way. Pearson.

From AIS Eagle-i

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