The Why? The What? and The How?
This Week: Word Work
Balanced literacy has been defined as “an approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001)
It is an approach to teaching. NOT a curriculum. It is HOW we teach our students to be independent readers and writers. It is NOT what books we use to teach them.
Balanced Literacy has been defined in “components” or “pieces” of literacy instruction.
This 8-week series will focus on the components of a complete BALANCED LITERACY program. We will focus on clear and concise definitions. Definitions that educators can discuss in collaborations. A “common language” where we can learn from each other and with each other.
The 8 components we will focus on are:
- Read Alouds
- Shared Reading
- Guided Reading
- Independent Reading
- Modeled / Interactive Writing
- Shared Writing
- Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop
- Word Work
Each week we will focus on one area of Balanced Literacy and share experiences, teacher tips, and resources to support and expand our Balanced Literacy repertoire.
This week: WORD WORK!
You can’t THINK of Word Work without thinking …
Sight Words, High-Frequency Words, Word Families, Spelling, Phonics, etc…
Before we start..
WHAT IS WORD WORK?
During Word Work, students experiment with spelling patterns, memorize high-frequency words, and develop a genuine curiosity for and interest in new and unique words. By playing with words, word patterns, word families, prefixes, suffixes, and so on, students hone their knowledge of words and increase their speaking and writing skills.
Word work is a hands-on time to explore the spellings and/or meanings of words (vocabulary). Making time for word work is vital because it helps patterns and words move into long-term memory. Word work can help our learners become better readers, spellers, and writers. Depending on our learners’ developmental stages, they might use this time to focus on letters and their sounds, read and spell words, or work on word meanings. At the same time, learners have time to explore sight words.
When or HOW do I teach WORD WORK?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Before a Small Group Reading Lesson – Before small group reading lessons, I review a previous word study, based on my learners’ word work needs. Beginning sounds, short vowels, ending sounds, etc. The key to these is that they should be quick and easy.
2. Spelling word practice. During our guided reading lesson, I might focus on our spelling words for the week or the word families we have reviewed in previous lessons. I always start with what the kids know…and then add new information.
3. A Small Group Lesson – Frequently I have strategy lessons just to focus on a particular phonics or spelling strategy, especially if we notice several learners struggling with the same thing.
4. Whole Group Instruction – I recommend a simple phonics lesson for all learners in the classroom each day. This isn’t a long lesson (10-15 at most) and covers phonics material that is on grade level. I have a district required curriculum. I use the curriculum phonics as my MORNING MEETING lesson. I can expand on it during my small group time.
I incorporate word work mini-lessons into my writing lessons, when appropriate. If we are working on multi-syllabic words, we will edit our writing for those words, also.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to support your students! When we are doing interactive writing, we incorporate MANY literacy practices!
Balanced Literacy does NOT isolate skills and strategies.
Best practices are integrated throughout the entire school day.
Word Work can be integrated from ANY curriculum and ANY resource.
Use science, social studies, reading, writing, and ANY vocabulary experience to support your WORD WORK studies.
These literacy posts may help in YOUR Balanced Literacy journey.
These Word Work resource books for TEACHERS may be helpful for YOUR reading.