Words Their Way:
SO overwhelming, am I right?
We just started using Words Their Way this year. Although I was trained on WTW in college, I had NO IDEA how to implement WTW effectively in my classroom while differentiating to meet students' individual needs. Over the summer, my team decided that I was going to be in charge of word study, so I threw myself head first into Words Their Way. I read the books, read blogs, attended workshops, and watched videos.
I finally figured out how to implement WTW in my room. Maybe it will work for you, too!
First, you have to give your students the PSI or ESI test and score them using the WTW scoresheets. I don't fill out the scoresheets completely because I find that to be a royal waste of time. Instead, I circle the patterns that a student MISSES. When a student misses three in one column, I stop grading and plan to start the student on that skill.
I have a spreadsheet on Google Docs that I use to keep track of my groups. It looks like this:
I created this FOREVER FREEBIE to help you organize your groups, which is essentially the same exact spreadsheet, just printable:
I grouped my students in August, then gave the PSI/ESI again in December. Based on those test results, I reworked the groups.
I like to print my students' word sorts on colored paper. It makes the words stand out and less likely to be lost! My guided reading groups are colors, so I had to think of something different to name my word study groups that was still applicable to colors. Don't judge.
My kids have baggies stapled into their take-home folders to store their words in. Honestly - most of the bags didn't make it to 2015, even though I bought the most expensive ones! Most of my students have replaced their baggies and bring them back and forth; I'm beyond impressed that none have been lost! All of my students have their words every day.
The above picture is of the inside of my students' take-home folders. (Read more about the folders HERE.) On the right is my Word Sort Cheat Sheet that students can refer to at home.
Alright - that's it for the organization. On to the implementation...
I like to do two-week rotations. We only have word study for 20 minutes every day and homework is optional, so I want to make sure my kids have ample time to master new spelling patterns.
Week 1 - Monday
Students cut out new words, write initials on the back, and try sorting them on their own. I pull small groups to give them a very brief overview of their sort and sort the words with them. Right now I have 5 groups and it takes me about 20 minutes to meet with all of the groups.
Week 1 - Tuesday
Students do closed sorts with partners. Students must be partnered within their predetermined word study groups.
Week 1 - Wednesday
Students work with partners to determine the meaning of each word and use them in sentences. If students don't know a word, they look it up in the dictionary or ask me.
Week 1 - Thursday
Students do speed sorts in partners. I project a stopwatch on the board for students to watch.
Week 1 - Friday
Week 2 - Monday
Students do word hunts independently. They flip to the next blank page in their word study folders and write the headers at the top of the page. Then they use books and magazines to hunt for words that fit under their headers.
Week 2 - Tuesday
Students do blind sorts with partners.
Week 2 - Wednesday
Week 2 - Thursday
Students do blind writing sorts with partners using dry erase boards.
Week 2 - Friday
Students glue down their words, sorted, into their word study folders. I pass out notebook paper and the kids know to get their papers ready for the test.
I call groups over to my reading corner one at a time. Students bring their papers and a pencil and grab a clipboard then I administer the test. I always print an extra copy of each word sort, staple the extras together, and use them to create the tests. Simple is best, in my opinion.
Word Master and Spin It! are both games that I designed and sell on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are tons of games out there for Words Their Way and phonics in general, but WTW is already way too much to keep up with. I designed both of these games so that they could be used with ANY word sort, so long as students can read the directions on the game boards. My students LOVE them!
OR, You can grab ALL of my Words Their Way resources here!
I'M EXHAUSTED NOW.
Honestly, I hope this post was helpful to you!
Want more Words Their Way advice? Read my follow-up blog post, Words Their Way: My Way, Part 2.
What questions do you have about implementing Words Their Way? I'd love to help shed some light!
Please follow along on Bloglovin', Instagram, Facebook, and TPT for more fun ideas that make your life easier!