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Word Study Program: An Overview

By Beth Newingham on October 1, 2012
  • Grades: 3–5

My teaching partner and I evaluated many different spelling programs and resources looking for the "perfect" word study model, but nothing provided us with a totally comprehensive curriculum. And so we decided to create our own word study program that would incorporate word recognition, vocabulary, and phonics, as well as spelling.

Our program introduces students to new spelling patterns each week. They take part in literacy activities in which they gain more exposure to the patterns, and practice making and sorting words.

Parents were very used to the weekly spelling tests that our school favored, but research shows students often memorize words for a test and then promptly forget them. Assigned spelling lists often require students to study isolated words rather than the phonics, the sounds that letters make within the words. Therefore, we tried to create a program that does not completely abandon weekly lists, but emphasizes opportunities for students to investigate and understand the patterns in words and build word knowledge that can be applied to both reading and spelling. (While I teach 3rd grade, this program is not specific to a particular grade level.)

Comments (4)

I too have started using your word study plan with my third graders this year. We are working our way through the vowels right now. I teach all the Language Arts for our third graders and only have 90 minutes per group. I have had to discontinue using 2 lists. My kids are weak and giving the test was a disaster with a sub. I'd like to ask where you find your poems, etc for introducing the word study units. I'd also like to know if you continue with the same testing pattern as you move into homophones, etc. Thank you so much for posting all of your great ideas!!!
D. Greene

Hi Beth,
I have stated my word study in grade 3 this year much like yours. Although I must say, with 80 minutes a day for literacy, it's hard doing it all. We are mandated to have "Word Walls." With such a differentiated program, what do you put on your word wall? Thanks, Alyson

My website address has changed. Here is the updated link to the site: http://hil.troy.k12.mi.us/staff/bnewingham/myweb3/

This should work for you!


I've been trying to download your book box labels from your school's website. The link isn't working correctly, do you know if it will be up and working soon? I love how they look in my classroom and I have some new teammates that would like to use them as well.

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