Thursday, July 19, 2012

Daily 5/ Word Work

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I like to introduce "Word Work" after the children have built up a good bit of "Read to Self "stamina.  It's pretty exciting for them when I start pulling out Play Dough and puzzles and fun things like that, so we have to practice a LOT before I am willing to turn them loose with Play Dough and ink pads!
1. Experimenting with words for learning and practicing 
a spelling pattern (brainstorm a list of ways you can '
do this).

At the beginning of the year,  word work is often more like "Letter Work" as the children do activities like matching capitals and lower case, sorting letters by "In my name/not in my name" and tracing over letters.  Gradually we will start working on word lists, and using everything from play dough to white boards to stamps to spell out the first words.

2. Memorize high frequency words (How often do 
you introduce new words? Do your students have 
their own lists of words  that they can work on? 
How will you keep track of words that they 
already know?  

 During Daily 5 Word Work time, we continue to use a variety of ways to practice reading, writing, and spelling the words on differentiated lists. We use a lot of Heidisongs to practice the hf words, and also work on them in small groups with white boards and "Mix and Fix" -- I spell the word on a sentence strip, then cut it apart and mix it up for them to "fix."  I also make a word ring with about 6 - 8 of their own words for some of them to take home to learn. They love to play "Bang!" -- pulling a word on a stick from a can and trying to collect the most words without getting "Bang!"
But after a while, I start sending a list of 10 words home every night. Every morning my assistant checks anyone who is ready to read their list.  If they can say all 10 words, they get to have lunch with the teacher -- woo-hoo!  I have a centerpiece that I put on the table in the cafeteria, and they enjoy sitting with me and chatting while everyone else has to be quiet. I don't know why it was such a great incentive, but some kids learned over 300 words this year.
 I hope we will have access to the ESGI assessment this year -- that's another great way to quickly assess their words.

3. Generalize spelling patterns (brainstorm a list of 
ways you can  do this).
 We don't do this right away, but later in the year we will "look for the chunks." This is often a pocket chart activity, but I also have some foam dice to make words with. We also make charts of word families that I hang around the room during the second semester for "Writing the Room."  
4. Adding to our knowledge and curiosity of unique 
and interesting words. (What is the best way 
to do this?)
I'm always keeping my eyes open for new words to add to their vocabulary. I have monthly word charts for them to read and copy, and several picture dictionaries they can use. I keep a dictionary handy for looking up words in our stories.  When we find a good one, I write it on a sticky note and stick it above the board on the alphabet letter that it starts with. Last year, we  talked about the word "devour" and wrote it on a sticky note.  About a week later, a little red-headed boy said, "Teacher, I DEVOURED that ice cream!!  I was thrilled to know it was now part of his vocabulary.
Other things to think about:

·       What materials do I already have?
I   I have everything I need -- except some fresh play dough.  I plan to use letter stamps more this year -- but if they can't keep from getting ink everywhere, I'll have to put it away again!  I have letters to string, letters on bottle caps, magnetic letters, alphabet puzzles, Lego letters, flash cards, wikki sticks, pocket charts, and a ton of TPT stuff.

·       What materials would I like to get?
          I still have a lot of things on my TPT wishlist...
·       How will I store them?
    Some of my activities are in drawers, on shelves, and all within reach of the kids. But I have more in plastic envelopes that I'd like to find a better way to organize.
·       Where will students work?
Messy word work -- like play dough, water colors, and stamps/ink will have assigned spots at tables.  But most of the other activities can be done on the floor.

I takes a lot of modeling before I am ready to let some of the children do Word Work independently -- it's the part of Daily 5 that is most likely to cause problems.  But when they are finally able to choose an activity and follow all the procedures, it is amazing and wonderful -- and a lot more fun and effective than boring flash cards or writing words 5 times each!!


  1. You seem like you are a pro with word work!! One thing that I do to help with the ink mess is to leave baby wipes at the station and they are required to wash everything down before going to the next station. The kids really enjoy cleaning up too!

    1. Great idea -- and I already have the baby wipes from last year! They love using them to wipe tables, so I know that is the answer. Thanks!

  2. Oh my goodness-I LOVE how you use paper sleeves instead of laminating papers-how easy and quick to differentiate! And since the laminator at my school is out of commission 50% of the time, I will be using this. Thanks for all the great suggestions!

    1. Glad to be of help. I make a "Word Work" folder to go in their book basket, and it includes an alphabet chart for them to trace over at the beginning of the year. The page protectors work just fine for that. We are limited on the amount of laminating we can do, too.


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