Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Feature Presentation...Word Work!

Over the next few blog posts I will be featuring a variety of different games, activities, songs, and dances that I use with my own class of learners as we all become better readers and spellers! I don't know about y'all, but I have a cluster of about 10 different word work games I just love to play with my little ones when we are practicing how to spell and read our new word wall words for the week or review words from weeks past!

Before I can begin this feature presentation all about what Word Work means in our class, I will begin by highlighting the importance to this teacher and her students of accuracy! I have a classroom bursting with creative ideas and talented little writers, but they know that at this point in the year they are expected to represent every sound they hear with a letter, apply learned phonics patterns, EDIT by using the ample number of resources plastered around the room, and to spell learned words correctly.

The spelling program our first grade team uses was developed by our school's literacy specialist and requires the teachers and students to be responsible for learning 5 word wall words each week in addition to words that follow the phonics pattern or skill of the week. So come Friday my little ones complete a spelling test on 15 words plus 2 bonus words that require my first graders to apply the phonics skill to see if they can still figure out how to spell the tricky, unknown word! Phew...it's a lot of work for these little people, but they love it, and really look forward to the tests that make them feel *oh-so-second-grade-like!*

How's Our Spelling?

Truly, my favorite part about spelling tests is how we graph our class's success rate on Monday to track "How's Our Spelling?" This is something relatively new I tried a few months ago, and I have noticed a HUGE difference in my students' spelling throughout the day. Simply record the date of the spelling test in the pink box and assign students to take turns coloring in the graph to mark how many kids in the class spelled all spelling word correctly!

Some might ask: "Why is graphing how many kids spell their words correctly on a spelling test helpful?" or even worry "Does is make kids feel badly if they know they were one of the ones that deterred the class from reaching their progress goal?"

My response to these questions is that because students don't know about how their individual peers scored on a spelling test, but rather the emphasis is placed on the accuracy of the class, I have found that by graphing our progress, my kiddos have become highly motivated to not just know the words for themselves, but to take Word Work rotation veerrryyy seriously for the sake of their teammates! They 100% model my "teacher talk" with one another, and I get such a kick out of them going above and beyond after finishing their work by excerspelling and hula hoop spelling to make sure that all of their group members are ready to rock it out on Friday's test!

To close out this prologue to the real feature presentation of this Word Work series is to highlight the true shining star purpose behind the blog posts! For me, spelling tests and accuracy are important and the attention to detail translates to success across the content areas, but while I "grade" spelling tests to send home I DO NOT use them as real grades! The real success test for me comes from when I see my little authors spelling words correctly and using phonics knowledge while writing the most incredible short stories, poems, and letters to one another! Spelling tests are not an authentic measure of writing or spelling ability, but they are a great way for students to measure their progress and have been a fantastic motivator in our classroom!


  1. Great idea! I just started following you, looking forward to the rest of your posts on this topic :)


  2. I hope you forgive me for my mini-break from my Word Work theme to talk up the MAJOR Teacher Appreciation Jackpot! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to provide lots of fun, new ideas for your own class of children!