WHPS Word Study Program - Based on Cutting-Edge Research

Written by Seth Pozzi, Assistant Head of School on .

Many schools teach spelling by giving students a list on Monday and a test on Friday with the bulk of students’ time spent memorizing in between. Many students find this type of spelling instruction boring. More importantly, research has shown that this is the least effective way to promote long term retention.

This year at WHPS, we are implementing an alternative to traditional spelling instruction called "Word Study," which is not based on the random memorization of words. Word Study is a cohesive approach that addresses word recognition, vocabulary, phonics and spelling together. In contrast to a traditional spelling program, Word Study provides opportunities to discover patterns, manipulate word concepts, and apply critical thinking skills.

One of the most important parts of Word Study is “sorting.”  Students will sort words or pictures or both into specific categories.  Word/picture sorting includes teacher led sorts as well as independent, partner and small group sorts.  Students will sort their word or picture cards and make discoveries and generalizations about the conventions of the English language. They will compare and contrast word features and discover similarities and differences within the categories.  This deep understanding of how letters and sounds work together in English helps students strengthen their ability to decode words (read) and encode (spell), with the ultimate goal of strengthening their reading accuracy and generating effective written communication.  While there is not a set list of words on which students will be tested each week, students will demonstrate their knowledge of each pattern through quizzes/checks and by examining their daily writing.  

During the first couple weeks of school, teachers are conducting assessments to determine each student’s individual Word Study level. Students will be grouped according to these levels and will begin the Word Study program soon. At Back to School Night, your child’s teacher will demonstrate how Word Study works and share information with you about homework routines and how you can support your child this year with Word Study.

We are thrilled to be able to provide this cutting-edge curriculum to our students, and we look forward to sharing more information with families at Back to School Night on September 1st.  

Watch WHPS students explain Word Study.

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