Adventures in First Grade

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Words Their Way My Way

Like any program out there, most teachers that I know take it and make it work for their specific classroom needs.  That is what I have done with Words Their Way.

I have gotten several questions about word study, so I thought that I would share a little more in depth of what it looks like in my classroom.

I have three groups of kids who are on different reading and spelling levels.  The Red Group, Green Group, and Blue Group.  Each group has their own reading selection for the week and spelling list.

I get my lists from the Words Their Way books.  All of my groups are in the Letter Name book:

One of my groups will be going into the Within Word Pattern book next week:

(These books are relatively inexpensive:  under $20 each.  The books have many, many word lists with features that build on one another.)

Okay, back to my week with Words Their Way.

On Monday each group will get their list of words, cut them out, put their initials on the back of each word, and put them in the baggie in the back of their word study notebook.  During group time on Monday we color the header words red, green, or blue depending on the group.  We go over the features for the week, sort, and talk about our sorts.  The kiddos also write the sorts in their notebooks.

For the rest of the week we will sort and write our words daily.  We also will look for words that follow our feature patterns in what we are reading. 

Each group has their own homework packet where they practice spelling their words and sorting some of their words at home.

The assessments are a little different than what one might traditionally think of as a spelling test. 
     1.  Each child sorts their words on their desk.  I walk around and check off that they were able to correctly complete their sort. 

     2.  The actual written part of the test is different too.  Not only do they have to spell the word correctly, they also have to put it under the correct feature header. 

I hope that this helps bring a greater understanding of how Words Their Way looks in my classroom.

I hope to be able to post some pictures of the children sorting and the assessments in action soon.

Happy Thursday!


  1. How many words do you give the children each week?

  2. Lori: The number of words in the sorts vary from week to week, but I generally give them 12 words to work on for the actual spelling part of the assessment. They are responsible for sorting ALL of the words on their list.

    When I taught third grade, whatever the number of words on the sort would be the number that they would spell. Usually 12 - 20 or so. I just kind of think that 20 words is a lot for a first grader.

    I hope this helps!

  3. Thanks for the reply! A teacher at my school gives 10 new words each week and they need to spell these correctly for the test plus 5 surprise words that follow the same pattern. Some of the parents think it's too much for first graders. I personally think it's reasonable.

  4. Lori: I think that seems reasonable, especially if they are from the same spelling feature! I will sometimes give a bonus word (worth one point) that uses the same feature.

    I like the idea of surprise words. Thanks for the suggestion!!

  5. I used to have the whole set of books and then in a fit of cleaning I got rid of them. I must be a crazy person!!
    Grade ONEderful

  6. I only give 5 and parents complain! I'm going to look into this. I like the idea of words that have something in common with each other.

    I am like Barbara's twin. I clean out things like crazy and then regret it. :)

    First in Maine

  7. I appreciate your information on word study. We have this year adopted a new phonics program and I am struggling. I am a visual person and I am trying to set up a word study notebook for my first graders. If you have more pictures that you are willing to share it would be a great help.