Adventures in First Grade

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Word Study and an Award

Last Friday, my principal asked if I would like to attend a conference on word study, knowing how much I like Words Their Way.  Not knowing much about the conference, I said sure.  So yesterday at 5:00, I walked into the Executive Auditorium at the Higher Ed center and I was schooled on word study. 

By Shane Templeton. 

One of THE authors of Words Their Way.

Jaw drop. 

Holy Cow.

He was an excellent speaker.  Here are some of the highlights of his talk:

1.  How kids spell words tells us what they know about words and what they know about reading.

2.  Look at what they are using, but confusing.

3.  Three layers of vocabulary:
    -Immersion in rich oral language, wide spread reading, and writing for a purpose.
    -Explicitly teaching and talking about word structure
    -Deep intense study of specific words:  general academic vocabulary as well as content specific.

4.  Activate a background knowledge of vocabulary.

I know that this is what we do, but it is just nice to be reaffirmed in our teaching actions.

Along the lines of word study, I wanted to share how it works in my classroom.

Each child gets their own word study notebook.  It is just a simple composition notebook.  On the back inside cover, I tape in an envelope:

I know that it is hard to see, but all I had were white envelopes.  They are like the ones that you put a report card in to send home.  In this envelope is where the kids keep a baggie with their words that they are sorting for the week.

The children sort and write their words every day.  Here are a few examples:

On Friday for the assessment, the students not only have to spell the words correctly, they also have to write them under the correct feature heading.

One of the reasons that I love word study, is that it is differentiated for individual learners.  Our reading series has a spelling component, but it did not meet the spelling needs of most of the students in my class.  I had used Words Their Way when I taught third grade, but have been too worried about learning the first grade curriculum for the last two years.  This is the first year that I have used it with my firsties.  I was super nervous about it at first, but my guys have caught onto the idea of sorts and features very quickly!

Okay, enough rambling on about word study.

The last part of the post title says an award.  I am so thankful to Amy over at The Resource(ful) Room for awarding me with her favorite follower award!

I don't know about you, but when I see that someone has left me a sweet, encouraging comment, it gives me confidence to continue to do what I know is best for my kiddos in my classroom.

There are a lot of kind friends out there in bloggy world that have given me all kinds of encouragement, and it is really hard to narrow it down to two, but here they are.

First, I would like to thank Barbara over at Grade ONEderful.

 She always takes the time to leave a comment, no matter how crazy my ramblings!

My next favorite follower is Jessica over at Apples and Papers.

She is a first grade teacher, and it appears that we are kindred spirits in the organization movement!  Her support has meant a LOT!

Thank you for making it to the end of this VERY long post!  You guys are the best!

Happy Tuesday!!


  1. Oh my goodness, it is so sweet of you to think of me. Thank you very very much!

    I'm glad to hear you had such a good time at the workshop. Your summary is a good reminder of what we need to focus on in Language Arts.

    Have a good one!

    Grade ONEderful

  2. I seriously heart Word Study. My district adopted it last year and I just love it. To be able to see your kids' I took the class this summer through UVA and it was a butt-kicker, but definitely worth it. Jealous you got to see Templeton.

    Following Optimism

  3. I have also been trying to get used to my curriculum and haven't started word study in this way. Well I (sheepishly) started it and then didn't continue because I wasn't sure how to continue. It is good to see how you are using it. How do you come up with their words? I have some kids that are really struggling with spelling in their writing and I can see it is affecting their reading. I want to help them with this. Any advice would be great. Feel free to email me at kagmoran (at) gmail (dot) com

    First in Maine

    PS You are awesome. I feel so much joy when you leave me comments!

  4. First thank you for the award!! I feel loved, but I am SO grateful for your comments and ideas too. It works both ways. :) We will be get this organization done! I just know it.
    Also I need to jump on this word study train. I am loving these notebooks you have. Adding it do things I must look into when I have the time.

  5. Just found your blog! Such an interesting post! Love seeing how you use Word Study! Thanks for sharing!

    Peace, Love and First Grade

  6. Just found your blog and I'm your newest follower. Congrats on the award!

  7. I just found your blog via way of Barbara!! Yeah! I'm so glad I did! I'm your newest follower! I love this post about word study and Words Their Way. My district used to use WTW and then moved onto the "basal program" but I still love WTW and use parts of it in my classroom! Thanks for sharing your word notebooks.

    Teaching First

  8. Oh, p.s., I'm going to put your blog on my New Blogs on the Block blog roll!! It's on the side of my blog but I like to recognize people who are just starting up! We've all been there! Hugs!

    Teaching First

  9. Wow! Shane Templeton, and you didn't even know he'd be there. Lucky you!
    By the way, I just discovered your blog and I'm your newest follower. I hope Daily 5 goes well for you. I'm new to it this year and I just love it. In fact I didn't do it for 1 week after New Year's and the kids started asking for it. I'm glad they love it too! Hopefully it will be the same for your kiddos.
     Chrissy

    First Grade Found Me

  10. We use Word Study too. I LOVE it! I am so jealous that you got to go listen to him. WOW!!!
    We have a lot in common. Daily 5, Word Study. etc.
    Have a wonderful day!
    ❀Beth Ann❀
    Taming My Flock of Firsties

  11. I just found your blog. I am your newest follower.

    Queen with Class

  12. How do you do several assessments at the same time?