Word Work: Does It Work for YOU?

What does Word Work or Word Study look like in your classroom?  I'm always curious how teachers incorporate this element of Language Arts into their schedules. Does it have it's own designated block of time during the day?  Is it squeezed in during a chunk of time? Perhaps Word Study is not a part of the day at all. I've seen it done all 3 of these ways. My word study/work philosophy has been evolving over the past few years, but it took a MAJOR turn this year after I attended a workshop with Jan Richardson, the amazing teacher and author of "The Next Steps to Guided Reading."

Let me start by saying that I teach English Language Learners, so word study is an important part of learning a new language, in my opinion.  Our word study routine looks something like this... Typically my kiddos receive their word study words on Monday. I use the "Words Their Way" program. After we go over the patterns or the letter sounds of their new words, they sort them and glue them into their word study notebook.

Word sorts from the Words Their Way spelling program.
 On the inside front cover of their notebook they've glued in a "Word Study Activities" page. They use this page to choose various activities. The expectation is that they independently complete one activity each day (Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday). On Friday they have a word study quiz. This cycle repeats each week throughout the year.

*FREEBIE* Click on the image to get the Word Study Activity page. :)

I like to change things up at times, so they may practice sight words during Word Study time. My students really enjoy this "Read It, Build It, Write It" activity from Cindy Gilchrist.

Usually students are working on their word work at the table with me, but sometimes, particularly if I'm assessing students, they'll work at the Word Work Station.
This big white board came in handy when creating this Word Work station!

These word study/word work activities have always worked out well for my students, but it wasn't until I took a guided reading workshop with THE Jan Richardson (see my post about her here!), that I realized... my students would benefit greatly from incorporating "Word Work" directly into their guided reading lessons! Taking word patterns straight from our reading and doing a mini lesson (3-5 minutes) on those patterns made perfect sense!  Of course!  Not only does this make their reading more meaningful, but they have another opportunity to practice word attack skills right there in their reading lesson.  After this workshop I immediately tweaked my guided reading lesson plan template to incorporate Word Work into EVERY lesson. 

**FREEBIE**  Click on the image to get my Modified Guided Reading Lesson Plan template!
Usually I plan ahead, looking for a spelling pattern to focus on in our book. Some examples might be: 2 letter rimes, 3 letter rimes, blends, word endings, double vowel teams, etc. BUT, at other times, I find what students need to work on by simply listening to them read. At the bottom of my lesson plan template I take notes, and when I see a pattern that is causing trouble for a student, well, the whole group may get a little word work mini-lesson on that pattern.  The last 3-5 minutes of each lesson is devoted to word work. Each student gets a mini white board and an expo marker. Then we practice making various words with the pattern.  The kids love it... and so do I!! :) 

This addition to my guided reading lessons has been great!  Not only do the kids enjoy it, but I see them recognizing those patterns in subsequent books, AND incorporating the spelling patterns in their writing. YES!  It has also made ME more aware of the spelling patterns that are challenging for them.  This allows me to address those challenges in an effective and meaningful way, right away.

I would love to hear how you incorporate word work or word study into your classroom!


  1. Thanks for linking up with us this month! What great ideas and tips for word work. I plan to try some of them out during our literacy centers this new year. :)

    1. Thanks YOU for having me Nicole! What a great way to start off the year:)

  2. What a great way to start the year! I love your ideas! Thank you!

  3. Love the ideas you've share with us! Thanks :)

  4. I love these ideas! One thing I've done is purchase a bunch of wooden magnets from Ross or TJMax (they usually have them clearance for $5.00/box) and put them in one of my magnetic white board centers. They have Forrest animals, sea life creatures, you name it! At the beginning of the year, I have the kids write beginning sounds. As the students progress, they will write beginning syllables to whole word! It's such a fun activity for the kids!

    1. That's a great idea...what an awesome way to have a consistent activity move along with them as their skills increase. Love it!