Spelling practice is an important component of any literacy program. I use word work as part of my middle school intervention classes. Sorting words, speed sorts, using words in context, writing fluency, and deeper analysis of a new word are all part of spelling practice activities.
Students need opportunities to analyze patterns in words. Looking at the spellings of words and how they can be grouped together help students connect words that are alike. With repetition and practice, students can sort the words more fluently.
I also use speed sorts in my classes around the third day of studying a word list. Students use an online stop watch and time themselves for baseline data. Then, they record that time. Students face the challenge of beating their own time. They sort the words again and record their new time. The students see improvement in their time right before their very eyes!
Writing Sorts and Spelling Pyramids
The writing sort helps students pay closer attention to how the words are spelled and grouped together. Spelling pyramids give students the opportunity to chant the word in their head as they write the word in the pyramid. For example, “storm.” (s-st-sto-stor-storm)
Spelling Fluency– Students become fluent spellers with practice. This gives students an opportunity to practice writing their spelling words as well as paying close attention to the patterns in the words. Typing or writing word lists is a great way to become a better speller. Also, students enjoy picking different colors to type or write their spelling words. Anytime students are given choices within an assignment, they seem to take more ownership. That makes it a win/win.
Students can create crossword puzzles by using context clues or definitions of their spelling words. This is a fun way for students to show what they know about the words they are studying.
Use in Context– After students have learned the meaning of their words, I have them choose some of their spelling words to use in sentences. Some students like to write a creative paragraph while others like to try to use two or three spelling words in a sentence. Either way, students are using the new words in context.
Students select a word from their spelling list that is new to them. I have them use a four square word map organizer. Students write their spelling word in the middle of the map. One of the squares is for the meaning of the word, another square is for using the word in a sentence, the third square is for synonyms, and the fourth square is for a picture that helps show the meaning.