Thursday, October 6, 2011

Word Study Communication

Word study is new for most families. It looks different than what they are used to, and after years of studying for The Friday Spelling Test, parents may be unsure of how to work with their child in a way to support the classroom instruction. Below are some main concepts to share with parents about word study.

“I heard that you’re not teaching spelling anymore.”

  • We teach word study so that students learn how words work. This way, when they are attempting to write a word they are not familiar with, they have some fundamental rules to work with in attempting the spelling. Also, as they are reading and come across a word they are not familiar with, they can apply their knowledge of how words work to more effectively make sense of its meaning.

“Why are we doing this?”

  • The goal of word study is application in writing and understanding in reading. It is the study of how words work. Rote memorization of a word list does not always apply to application in writing, comprehension in reading, or even retention of spelling knowledge.

“These words are too easy for my child.”

  • It may seem easy right now…
    • while we are learning the routines of word study, but it will get more challenging soon.
    • because some features of how words work are easier to learn than others.
    • but I need to make sure the students understand ____ deeply because students will be applying this to more complex, multisyllabic words eventually.

“These words are eays, but understanding this spelling pattern is confusing.”

  • It may seem difficult right now; some features are more complex than others. This is why we are focusing on just one feature at a time.

“Why aren’t you giving spelling tests anymore?”

  •  We are still taking assessments. Once I have taught a specific feature of how words work and students have had sufficient time to practiceand explore the feature, then I will be looking for application of that feature in each student’s writing and assessing students’ understanding/ability to transfer the understanding to other words with the same feature. These are not tests that can be studied for; these are tests that assess a student’s current understanding of how words work.

“I thought you weren’t giving spelling tests. Why does my child have a list to study?”

  • Sight words are generally words that don’t fit into regular categories or rules of word knowledge, and they appear frequently in the books we are reading. (is, again, thought, etc.) For words like this, we may still give students a list to study and memorize.

“Are all the schools doing this?”

  • Although we started our implementing word study a few years ago, it is now a HCDE initiative; word study is one of the seven dimensions on the HCDE K-5 Strategic Literacy.