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Word Study

Last Updated: Dec 16, 2016 09:40AM PST
Why whole-class word study?
The goal of the Being a Reader program is to bring all students to read on grade level by the end of grade 2. At this point, foundational skill standards require students to read two-syllable words and identify suffixes and prefixes to support comprehension of complex text. To that end, we developed the grade 2 curriculum to take advantage of the combination of whole-class and small-group instruction.
By combining the whole-class word study with the small-group differentiated reading, students who need support receive a double dose of word work. They receive grade-level instruction in the whole-class setting, while receiving differentiated instruction at point of need in their small groups.
In addition, the whole-class word study is specifically designed to bring along students who are at different places in their reading development, including review of short vowels and final e, complex vowels, spelling to support reading, and vocabulary support. Sorting as a class and in pairs provides a safe environment for students to experiment, and the sort words are read multiple times, so that when the students are ready to sort, the words are familiar to them. Embedded support notes allow the teacher to differentiate and provide support as needed during the whole-class lesson.

Independent word work practice four days per week allows students to choose the word work they will do, further customizing this important aspect of learning to read complex text.

How is the instruction for Word Study differentiated?
In grades K and 1, word study is wrapped into Small-group Reading (sets 1–5 & 7–8) which is then reviewed during the independent work rotations. In grade 2, word study occurs in a whole-class context. During Word Study lessons, grade 2 students explore how words are put together, including using spelling-sound correspondences, adding and reading inflectional endings, and strategies for analyzing and reading polysyllabic words. Meaningful prefixes and suffixes are introduced throughout the year along with common syllable types. Ongoing whole-class and pair work builds students’ ability to work together, explain their thinking, and come to agreement. This whole-class format provides a way for all students, even those who are struggling, to integrate word study content while they continue to receive targeted instruction in Small-group Reading.
Note, the first eight weeks of Word Study lessons are devoted to reviewing and solidifying complex-vowel spelling patterns. The review provides the students with the opportunity to reactivate learning from the previous year. 

How does spelling instruction fit into Word Study?
During Word Study  lessons in the Being a Reader program, students explore polysyllabic words by focusing on word parts. All of the work students do in Word Study supports their growth as readers as it improves their spelling and word analysis strategies and develops vocabulary. Students begin writing the words they are sorting in Week 2 of the program, when the Word Study Notebooks are introduced. Guided Spelling, introduced in Week 7 of the lessons, focuses on developing thoughtful spellers who apply what they are learning about words to reading and spelling unfamiliar words. Guided Spelling is introduced as students begin to think about which spellings to use for complex vowel sounds and continues through base words and affixes. The spelling words studied in the last few weeks of instruction focus on frequently misspelled irregular high-frequency words.

Research tells us that students learn to spell words more successfully when they have had several exposures to the words and can read them without difficulty. For this reason, we selected words from the previous week’s sort words for guided spelling instruction. We purposely paired reading and spelling to reinforce spelling patterns and common syllables students are likely to encounter in their reading and writing. Words are introduced early in the week and students practice the spelling patterns both with spelling practice in their Word Study Notebooks and by re-sorting the previous week’s words when they go to independent word work.

For teachers who wish to test students weekly, we provide instruction for administering a spelling test starting at Week 13. Teachers who prefer to assess students’ spelling in their independent writing can forgo the test and use the time for independent work.

For more information about guided spelling and spelling tests, see “Guided Spelling” on page xxvii, “About Guided Spelling” on page 192, and  “About Spelling Tests” on page 292 of the Grade 2 Teacher’s Manual.


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