Word Work: Words Their Way



How do you start?

PictureAt the beginning of the year, I gave all of my students a spelling inventory.  (Here is a link to examine the materials for the assessment.)  The inventory is not about how many words were correct or incorrect, it is concerned with the components of written language where the students are experiencing difficulty.   Is the student not recognizing beginning sounds, long vowels, suffixes etc? (Note: All the materials needed for the assessment come with the core textbooks.)

After tallying the assessment, students are placed within a specific stage of the developmental spelling scale and then they can begin working with word sorts appropriate to that stage.  

The stages are:
  • Emergent Stage
  • Letter Name Alphabetic Stage
  • Within-Word Pattern Stage
  • Syllables and Affixes Stage
  • Derivational Relational Stage

Essential Reading

Core Text

Special Edition for English Language Learners

WTW with Struggling Readers

What about the materials?


The WTW texts offer materials that you can photocopy and an incredible number of word sort lists that you can create yourself with a simple template.  Many printables are also available on the CD-Rom included with the core text. 

Each of my students has the following materials for word work time:

  • A two-pocket folder with a center flap that has three fasteners
  • A journal or notebook to record their words
  • A size #6 manila key/coin envelope which contains their current word sort 
  • A letter size manila envelope or a gallon size plastic bag for storing previous sorts
  • A crayon
  • A Progress Chart (see below)
  • Instructional Sheets for 5 different types of word activities (see below)

How to Make the Sorts

Typically, my students receive about 20 words on card stock.  There are two ways to create word sorts.  The first and easiest way is to use one of the workbooks (see resources books below) and simply photocopy an appropriate sort onto card stock.  Each book contains many sorts for that specific stage ready for copying.

The second way to create sorts for your students is a bit more time consuming but leaves you with a document for future use.  Using the many sorts listed in the back of the main WTW text, I make a template in Open Office Writer, type the words into a table, then print, and photocopy them onto card stock. 

Here are the resource books, from left to right, early stages to more advanced.