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The Synchrony and Integration of Phonics, Vocabulary

And Spelling Development and Instruction

Donald Bear September, 2008
E. L. Cord Foundation Center for Learning and Literacy
College of Education, Mail Stop 288, University of Nevada, Reno, NV 89557
Contacts: bear@unr.edu, www.unr.edu/cll

 What is word study? The integration of phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction
 The synchrony of literacy learning
 Assessment and the growth of word knowledge
 Differentiated word study instruction
 A walk through the stages: Activities and development
 Word study with English learners
 Word study and reading programs
 Word study organization in the classroom

Through examples of students’ writing and teachers teaching, we consider these questions:
What is word study and how is word study a way to teach vocabulary, phonics, and spelling? How is
word study integrated into reading instruction? How do we assess spelling and word knowledge?
What are the characteristics of learners at each instructional level?

a. Synchrony of Literacy b. "Prosody, and orthography are not parts of

There is a synchrony among grammar, but are difused [sic] like the blood and
reading, writing and spelling spirits through the whole." Ben Jonson, 1637, OED,
development and instruction. page 1492.


Essential Literacy
What is word study? Activities

Read to
Word study = Read with
phonics + spelling + Write with
vocabulary instruction Word study
Talk with
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 2
Word Study Notebooks for Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling
Water / Land Animal Concept Sort
With Pictures or Words

water land animals both

fish 2 & 4-legged insects
fins lungs mouth
gill cover lions brain
tail fin humans spine
scales hippopotamus nostrils
gills birds stomach, heart, liver
bass (freshwater) amphibians
marlin (saltwater) frogs

_ub tub
_ab _ib bib _ob cob
dab crib bob rub
jab bib job cub
nab fib mob grub
lab rib rob club
crab sob stub

“There is a synchrony among reading, writing and spelling development and instruction.”
syn- chron -y

sym- syl-
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 3
Directions to Study Interesting Words & Golden Lines
When you see or hear an Interesting Word or Golden Line in what you read or view, take note. Record the word in your word
study notebook. Record the Golden Line in the reader response area of your notebook.

words from what they read. Often, words students collect are words the teacher has chosen. Once students have learned to choose words
themselves, gradually introduce a few of the vocabulary words for them to include or divide among themselves.
2. Record the word and sentence. Sometimes sentences are too long so sections of the sentence can be recorded.
3. “Take apart.” Look at word parts and think about their meaning.
4. Think of related words. Show students how to go from the word parts from “take apart” to brainstorming related words by the meaningful
parts of words (e.g., syn- chron –y). Students can work in pairs to brainstorm related words, and they can concentrate on different
parts: prefixes, suffixes and roots or bases.
5. Study the word in the dictionary. Record interesting information. Show students how to read the dictionary and its abbreviations. Students
can use brief etymological resources to study words and their histories. Students can add additional words from the dictionary and
etymological resources to their lists of related words.
6. Review and share. Students report back what they learned and recorded in their word study notebooks. Consider small group, whole class,
small group and partner configurations for studying and sharing interesting words. Reading comprehension activities often follow
from sharing our interesting vocabulary words. *(See the first activity in Words Their Way, Chapter 8.)

Your Word Study Notebook of Interesting Words & Golden Lines

Interesting words and ideas: What interesting words do you see and hear? What important ideas and terms did you read or hear today?
Golden Lines: What is an interesting quote or idea you have heard or read today? Through short activities, we teach students to locate
Golden Lines as they read. They start with lines that strike them while they read. They learn to find Golden Lines and they practice
marking them with post-its in the margins, or by noting them in their word study notebooks.
1. Cacophony caco phon –y 22. Predict – Read - Confirm Cycle, Resolution
2. 4 Tools: Confidence in a few basic principles of literacy 23. “I know you don’t know, but what do you think this
development; we can't teach by telling; vigor and common reading / sort will be (is) about?”
sense; classroom organization and management. 24. Content DR-TA: What do you know? What do you think
3. RRWWT: Read To, Read With, Write With, Word Study, you know? What do you want to find out?
Talk With 25. See the KWL.
4. Synchrony syn- chron -y 26. “Vigil to understand” – James Deese
5. There is a synchrony among reading, writing and spelling 27. Emerson: “It is the good reader that makes the good
development and instruction. book.”
6. Orthography ortho graph –y 28. Concept of Word in Print (COW), the Space – Time
7. Spelling is a conservative measure of what students know Continuum, and the Miracle of Beginning Reading.
about words. 29. "Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One
8. 5 Stages of spelling development: emergent, letter name does not love breathing." To Kill a Mockingbird
– alphabetic, within word pattern, syllables & affixes,
derivational relations 30. Prosody, and orthography are not parts of grammar, but
9. Word Study = spelling + vocabulary + spelling are difused [sic] like the blood and spirits through the
10. Look for automaticity and fluency and not just accuracy. whole." 1637 by Ben Jonson, 1637, OED, p. 1492.
11. Grammar is folded in to word study instruction. 31. . . . and like a good sauce, the realization of a sentence's
12. Morphology and the Meaning Connection: prosodic structure is a blend of different ingredients none of
a. Inflected Morphology – -ed, -ing, -ly, -s,es …. which can be separately identified in the final product. Cutler
b. Derivational Morphology - affixes, roots …. and Isard, 1980, " p.245.
13. Make the meaning connection: Show students how words
related in meaning are often similar in spelling, despite changes
32. Flannery O’Conner, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”
in sound. (see Words Their Way, Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton, “whose face was as broad and innocent as a cabbage”
Johnston, 2008) 33. “We want the idea to feed the pen and not the pen to
14. Assimilated prefixes: in + mature, ad-, com-, dis- …. interfere with the idea.” Edmund Henderson
15. “Etymology is the archaeology of thought.” B. F. 34. Language makes altruism possible (P. Lieberman)
Skinner 35. “You rush, you crush.” Vusi Mahlasela
16. The time to teach a rule is when students already know what we 36. Development requires “(t)ies that commit us to action in behalf
are talking about. of the well-being of others beyond our own self-interest.”
17. When there is frustration on the student's or your part take a (Bronfenbrenner & Morris)
step backwards, instructionally. 37. Stop an activity when it's going well.
18. “Objects are concealed from our view not so much because 38.
they are out of the course of our visual ray as because there is
no intention of the mind and eye toward them...Nature does not
cast pearls before swine.” Thoreau
19. Chinese - "playing the guitar to a cow."

20. Life is a DR-TA

21. Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA), (DL -TA,
K-W-L), (Bear & Gill; Bear & Invernizzi)
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 4


Reading and Writing Stages: 
Emergent Beginning Transitional Intermediate Advanced
Early Middle Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late

Pretend read Read aloud, word-by-word, Approaching fluency, Read fluently, with expression. Develop a variety of
Concept of Word fingerpoint reading phrasal, some expression in reading styles. Vocabulary grows with experience reading.
No COW, Rudimentary COW Full COW oral reading. Wright
Brothers of reading

Pretend write Word-by-word writing, writing Approaching fluency, more Fluent writing, build expression & voice, experience different
starts with a few words to organization, several writing, styles & genre, writing shows personal problem
paragraph in length paragraphs solving & personal reflection.

Spelling Stages: 
Emergent Letter Name- Within-Word Syllables & Derivational
Alphabetic  Pattern  Affixes  Relations
Early Middle Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late

Examples of spellings:
bed bd bad bed
ship sp sep shep ship
float f ft fot flot flott flowt floaut flote float
train jn jan tan chran tran teran traen trane train
cattle k kd catl cadol catel catol cattel cattle
cellar slr salr celr seler celer seler celler seller cellar
pleasure pjr plasr plager plejer pleser plesher pleser plesher plesour plesure pleasure
confident confadent confiednet confedent confendent confident
opposition opasishan oppasishion opositian oposision opposition
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 5

“There is a synchrony among reading, writing and spelling

development and instruction.”
syn- chron -y

sym- syl-

Interesting Word Word Study

If we understand development we have come a long way to differentiate instruction.
dif fer ti - ate
dis- < L apart < L differre – to be different, through O ingratiate, initiate, satiate
Fr (dif fer – to carry apart)
disease -fer, ferre to carry, bear(ing) ; e.g., -ate comb form,
distemper circumference, defer, confer, infer , offer, possessing; creates verb
refer, suffer, transfer; fertile, ferry forms;
e.g., contaminate
Why is apart spelled dif? suf in suf from sub- (below) – carry
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 6

Concordance of Spelling, Reading and Program Levels and Descriptions

Donald Bear January 2007
This concordance explores the relationship among levels of literacy learning, assessments, and materials.
The grade, reading stages, and levels in the first column portray a broad progression of learning.
Following across a row, triangulation of assessments guide teachers and students in the selection of
reading materials for sessions of independent and instructional level reading.

In our spelling research into word knowledge, the scores on the spelling inventories often indicate what
reading materials students can read with good accuracy. The shaded column indicates spelling levels and
the range of words spelled correctly for that stage on one of the three spelling inventories in the 4th edition
of Words Their Way. The number of words spelled correctly is a beginning measure. Analyze students’
word knowledge and spelling development with a feature guide that examines their spelling inventories or
first draft writing. This analysis determines the features students know and need to learn.

Many schools use the spelling inventories as a beginning way to think about small group reading and word
study instruction, and as a first step to indicate further assessments. The relationship between the reading
and spelling columns is a coarse way to look at instructional levels and the use of the number of words
spelled correctly to place a student in a narrow band of reading materials is obviously unwise.

Good reading accuracy does not guarantee comprehension, and is more like a prerequisite to
understanding. Students’ reading comprehension is evident in this chart only in the sense that students
who spell a certain number of words correctly should have a reading accuracy sufficient for
comprehension. Some students who read nearly all words accurately may not make sense of what they
read or know the meaning of a sufficient number of words in the text to comprehend what they read. The
“vigil to understand” and language knowledge forecast comprehension.

There are several informal measures to understand students’ literacy, including:

1) Read With students in various forms and materials accompanied by plenty of
discussion to see what students understand when they read. Think daily about
earballing students’ oral reading and eyeballing their writing and spelling. Listen and
make instructional decisions, and engage students in conversations about what they
read to be certain that comprehension is evident.
2) Administer a test of word recognition in isolation (WRI), (the San Diego Quick Test is
free); the PALS assessment from the University of Virginia has a fine graded word
recognition inventory for primary students.
3) Read graded passages with comprehension checks (an Informal Reading Inventory,
IRI); these inventories include measures of reading fluency and expression.
In the creation of a customized concordance, an electric copy can be made that links with the assessments
and instructional materials used in the classroom.

You are welcomed to write to me with observations using this concordance (bear@unr.edu).
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 7

Spelling Stages Instructional Levels Ranges of

Chapter in Words Their Way Word
Grade Reading Reading Stages Instructional Reading Phases
Words Spelled Correctly on a Study in Lexiles
Level Level WTW Inventory: Primary, Letters Numbers Rates oral / (Ehri)
Elementary, Upper Level silent (wpm)
PreK Readiness Early Emergent Early Emergent K - - Support Read NA Pre Alphabetic

Early Emergent – Middle Early– Middle Emergent

K Readiness K A 1 Support Read NA Pre Alphabetic
Emergent Chapter 4; 0 0 na
Middle– Late Emergent
Middle Emergent – Late
K / 1st Readiness Chapter 4 K B 2 Support Read NA Pre Alphabetic
0 0 na
Late Emergent – Early Late Emergent – Early Letter Name
K / 1st PP Beginning Chapters 4 & 5 K, A C 3 Familiar Read NA Partial Alphabetic
0-6 0-3 na
Early – Middle Letter Name-
Early – Middle Beginning
1st PP2 Alphabetic K, A D 4 Familiar Read NA Partial Alphabetic
Chapter 5; 0-2 0-2 na
Middle Letter Name-Alphabetic
1st PP3 Middle Beginning A E 6&8 NA Partial Alphabetic
Chapter 5; 2 2 na
40 – 60 wpm
Late Letter Name-Alphabetic
1st Primer Late Beginning A F&G 10 & 12 200L-400L Full Alphabetic
Chapter 5; 6 3 na
Early Within Word Pattern
1st / 2nd Early Transitional B H&I 14 & 16 200L-400L Full Alphabetic
First Chapter 6; 8-17 5 – 9 2-7
Middle Within Word Pattern 60 – 100 / Consolidated
2nd Second Middle Transitional B J&K 18 & 20 300L-500L
Chapter 6; 13 7 6 60 – 100 Alphabetic
Late Within Word Pattern
2nd / 3rd Second Late Transitional B, C L&M 24 & 28 300L-500L Consolidated
Chapter 6; 17 9 7
Early Syllables & Affixes
3rd / 4th Third Early Intermediate C, D M, N, O, P 30, 34, 38 500L-700L Consolidated
Chapter 7; 22 -26 12 – 18 9 - 18 80 – 100 /
Middle Syllables & Affixes 100 – 180
4th Fourth Middle Intermediate D P, Q, R 40 650L-850L Automatic
Chapter 7; na 15 11
Middle Syllables & Affixes to Early
Derivational Relations
5th Fifth Intermediate to Advanced D, E S, T, U 50 650L-850L Automatic
Chapters 7 & 8
na 15-20 11-21 80 – 120 /
Middle Syllables & Affixes to Middle 100 – 200
Derivational Relations
6th Sixth Intermediate to Advanced D, E V & higher 60 650L-850L Automatic
Chapters 7 & 8
na 15-22 11-23
Early to Middle
Derivational Relations 850l –
7th Seventh Early to Middle Advanced - Y/Z 70 Automatic
Chapter 8 1000L
na 18-25 15 - 28 100 – 120 /
Middle 150 – 250
Derivational Relations 850l –
8th Eighth Middle Advanced - Z & up 80 Automatic
Chapter 8 1000L
na 18-25 18 - 28
Donald Bear 2008 Rates vary by the difficulty of the text, students’ background knowledge, and development within a stage. (An advanced (teenage) reader
may hit 160 wpm orally in easy text.) (An early beginning reader may read relatively difficult material at 40 wpm.)
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 8
Words Their Way Primary Spelling Inventory Feature Guide
Words Spelled Correctly: 4 / 26 Feature Points: 31 /56 Total 35/82 Spelling Stage: Middle Letter Name
Stages and Emerg Letter Name - Alphabetic Within Word Pattern Syllables
gradations Late Early Middle Late Early Middle Late & Affixes
→ Feature
Features → Beginning Final Short Digraphs Blends Long Vowel Other Inflected Points
↓Words Consonant Consonants Vowels Patterns Vowels Endings
1. fan f n a 3 1
2. pet p t ea 2 0
3. dig d g i 3 1
4. rob r b o 3 1
5. hope h p o-e o 2 0
6. wait w t ai a 2 0
7. gum g m u 3 1
8. sled ea sl 1 0
9. stick ia st 1 0
10. shine sh i-e 1 0
11. dream dr t ea 0 0
12. blade bl a-e 1 0
13. coach -ch t oa 0 0
14. fright fr igh 1 0
ch ew ow -ed 1 0
15. chewed
16. crawl cr aw 1 0
17. wishes -sh -es s 1 0
18. thorn th or 2 0
sh ou -ed d 2 0
19. shouted
20. spoil oi oy 0 0
21. growl br ow au 0 0
22. third th ir 1 0
-ed t 0 0
23. camped
24. tries Anthony  tr ch Gabriella -ies is 0 0
-pping in 0 0
25. clapping
26. riding -ding 0 0
Totals 7/7 7/7 4/7 6/7 5/ 7 0/ 7 2/ 7 0/7 31/56 4/26
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 9
Social Studies and Elementary Spelling Inventory
Susana (PSI 22/25, 92%)

Fernando (PSI 10/25, 40%)

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 10
Table 2. Word Study Groups and Developmental Ranges across Grade Levels

Table 2 is an example of how a school described three groups in the elementary grades. This was a frame for
differentiated instruction. There is an overlap of word study across grade levels and a spiraling of the same
principles of instruction with more difficult and less frequent words, and patterns over the range of stages.

Word Study and Reading Groups by Developmental Spelling Ranges

Across Grade Levels or Over a School Year

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3

Grade Spelling Stage Range Spelling Stage Range Spelling Stage Range
Reading Stage Range Reading Stage Range Reading Stage Range

Early – Late Emergent Middle Emergent – Early Letter Name Late Emergent –Middle Letter Name
K Early – Late Emergent Middle Emergent – Early Beginning  Late Emergent – Middle Beginning

Late Emergent – Early Later Name Early Letter Name – Early Within Word Pattern Middle Letter Name – Middle Within Word Pattern
1 Late Emergent – Early Beginning Early Beginning – Early Transitional  Middle Beginning – Middle Transitional

Early – Middle Letter Name Early – Late Within Word Pattern Middle Within Word Pattern – Early Syllables & Affixes
2 Early Beginning – Middle Beginning Early Transitional – Late Transitional  Middle Transitional – Early Intermediate

Middle Within Word Pattern - Early Syllables & Late Within Word Pattern – Middle Syllables & Affixes
Middle Letter Name - Middle Within Word Pattern
3 Middle Beginning – Middle Transitional Affixes Late Transitional – Middle Intermediate
Middle Transitional – Early Intermediate 
Middle Within Word Pattern - Early Syllables & Affixes Middle Syllables & Affixes – Middle Derivational Relations
Early - Late Syllables & Affixes
4 Middle Transitional – Early Intermediate
Early Intermediate – Late Intermediate  Middle Intermediate - Middle Advanced

Late Syllables & Affixes - Early Derivational

Early - Middle Syllables & Affixes Early - Middle Derivational Relations
5 Early – Middle Intermediate Relations Early - Middle Advanced
Late Intermediate – Early Advanced 
Middle Derivational Relations
Middle Syllables & Affixes - Early Derivational Relations Early – Middle Derivational Relations
6 Middle Advanced
Middle Intermediate – Early Advanced
Early Advanced – Middle Advanced 
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 11


Concept sort Writing sorts
Guess my category Open sorts
Picture sorts Speed sorts
Partner sound sorts Collecting word bank words
Word sorts Studying interesting words
Word hunts Word study notebooks
Closed sorts


Closed and Open Sorts

Students first read the words and set unknown words aside. In closed sorts, students arrange the
words underneath the columns designated by the teacher. In open sorts, the students organize the
words into categories that they develop. After sorting, students read the words in each column to
check their work. These sorts can be recorded in word study notebooks.

Writing Sorts
Students often do a writing sort after they’ve completed a closed sort. Categories are set up, and
as words are called out, students listen and decide in which category each word belongs. They then
write the word under that category label. For independent assignments, students can be asked to
add more words to each column.

Word Hunts
After studying a pattern, students return to texts they are reading to find words that go with a
specific pattern; for example, students may be asked to hunt for words that sound like “beat” (long
e) in the middle. The words they find can be recorded in word study notebooks.

Word Study Notebooks

These are notebooks, or a section of larger notebooks, in which students collect words and
occasionally record word sorts that they’ve completed. We can begin word study notebooks with
students in the middle of the Letter Name phase of spelling. The word study notebooks expand
when students are in the Within Word Pattern phase of spelling. When students study long vowels,
several pages can be set aside for each vowel. Students add words to sorts in their word study
notebooks. Sorts in the word study notebook include sound, pattern, and meaning sorts.

Word Study Games

Almost any card game or board game can be adapted for word study. Path games are
particularly successful, as are word study versions of “Go Fish,” “Concentration,” “Bingo,” and
“Black Out.” Many commercial electronic games are fine as long as students can read the words
with ease. Ask the student to read through the words in the games and expect very high accuracy.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 12

Six Upper Level Word Study Activities

– compiled by Baren from Words Their Way
Vocabulary Jeopardy to Accompany a Unit of Study
1. Students generate vocabulary cards from a unit of study.
2. With the cards students make a Jeopardy game. Students write questions on card that relate to facts and
concepts studied. Answers are written on backs upside down. The cards are sorted into categories
3. Teams of students play the game as a whole class vocabulary review of unit. See Chapter 8 of WTW.

Semantic Sorts
1. Students collect words from unit of study on a word wall. Words selected for the wall are defined and
reviewed as an ongoing class activity.
2. These words are give to groups to sort into meaning or association based groups. Students write the groups on
chart paper with an explanation for each grouping. ee Chapter 7 of WTW.

Speed Sorts
By day three or four teachers challenge students to “speed sort” their list of words to develop automaticity.
Students enjoy working against the clock and themselves. See Chapter 3 of WTW.

Greek and Latin Root Study in Groups

1. Choose a set of common roots: photo-, geo-, aqua-, astro-.
2. In their word study notebooks, students create webs of words in which the root can be found while the teacher
creates one on an overhead.
3. Brainstorm related words. Figure out root meaning.
4. Students use dictionaries to locate root, verify meaning, and find origin and search dictionaries for related
5. Eliminate words that do not fit meaning of root. Honor all suggestions. Lead student to examine parts and

Interesting Words
1. Find an interesting word.
2. Record the word and sentence.
3. Look at word parts and think about their meaning.
4. Record related words.
5. Study the word in the dictionary and record interesting information.
6. Review. See Chapter 8 of WTW.

Figuring Out New Words

1. Try context first to see if you can get a sense of the word
2. Examine word for meaningful parts -- base or root and prefixes and suffixes:
a. If there is a prefix, take it off first.
b. If there is a suffix, take it off second.
c. Look at the base or root and think of a related word
d. Reassemble the word, thinking about the meaning contributed by the base or root, then the suffix and then
the prefix.
3. Now try out this meaning in the sentence; check if it makes sense in the context.
4. If the word still does not make sense and if it is still critical to the meaning of the large passage, then look it up
in the dictionary.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 13
Table 2 – 5. Word Study Focus with English Learners and Types
of Contrasts Arranged by Stage of Spelling (examples in
parentheses). (from Bear, Helman, Templeton, Invernizzi, Johnston, 2007)

Spelling Word Study Examples of Word Study

Stage Topics with English Learners

Emergent Phonemic awareness, Teach rhyming in English and compare to

rhyming, alliteration, sound rhyming in primary language, contrast ending
play with movement and rhyming sounds (pat/pig), beginning sound
characterization, alphabet contrasts, easy to more difficult (tall /fall 
knowledge, concept of word lap/rap)
in print, beginning and final
sound sorts, vocabulary In the move from Emergent Literacy to Beginning
language development Reading, we must follow the development of Concept
of Word in Print (COW) (Morris, Bloodgood, Lomax,
& Perney, 2003). There are three gradations of COW:
No COW, Rudimentary COW and Full COW (Bear
& Barone, 1998); Bear, et al., 2006, Emergent WTW
Letter Beginning and final Letter-sound correspondences to highlight sound
Name- consonants, consonant contrasts, sorts for final sounds in word families
Alphabetic blends and digraphs, short (b/p, c/g, d/t, f/v, j/h/w, k/g s/z), sound sorts for
vowel families, short vowel beginning consonant blends and digraphs (ch/sh,
sounds sp/esp)

Within Long vowel patterns, More difficult vowel contrasts (short ĭ and ĕ);
Word difficult final blends & short and long contrasts (nĕt/nēat); continue
Pattern digraphs, other vowel blend and digraph study (t/th); sound sorts for
patterns long and short vowel discriminations; use
homonyms for vocabulary development
(read/read, pale/pail)

Syllables & Inflected endings, consonant Grammatical functions of inflections (plural, past
Affixes doubling, syllable junctures, tense); compound words; cognate study
easy affixes, unaccented (telephone/ teléphono, radio/radio); grammatical
syllables functions of suffixes (-ic, -tion), continue
homophone study (aloud/allowed)

Derivational Reduced and altered vowels, Grammatical functions of harder suffixes

Relations bases, roots and derivations, (furious, refrigerate); continue cognate study
spelling-meaning connection (decision/decisión)
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 14

Emergent Stage Word Study

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 15

Reading Behaviors of
Emergent Readers
1. Pretend read. Talk through stories.

2. Learn the "office of written language."

3. Acquire concept of word in print.

4. Read to.

Late Emergent and Early Letter Name –Alphabetic

Word Study
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 16
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 17

Letter Name – Alphabetic Stage Spelling Sample

BAD bed
SEP, SHEP ship

WAN, WHAN when

LOP, LOMP lump
FOT, FLOT float
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 18
Four Considerations for Word Study with English Learners
1. Compare oral languages; 2. Compare writing systems;
3. Know what language and literacy experiences students have had;
4. Plan word study to help students achieve.

Difficult consonant sounds in English for Spanish speakers. (from Bear, D., Templeton, S., Helman, L., &
Baren, T. , 2003).

Figure 3. Vowel sounds in English and Spanish.

English letter and word Spanish letter and word
a as in cake e as in hecho
e bean i ido
i like ai aire
o hope o ocho
o top a ajo
u June u usted
oy toy oy voy

Six Types of Spelling Errors Made by English Learners:

A Framework to Analyze Spelling
from Bear, Helman, Invernizzi, Templeton & Johnston, 2007
1. Misspellings reflect minimal contrasts between the primary language and English.
2. Look for whole word substitutions and the similarities and differences in the features of the
target words and the misspellings.
3. English learners often do more sounding out.
4. There is greater variability in the spelling of English learners.
5. Students may omit ending and middle syllables.
6. Students follow the same developmental sequence, and they need more time.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 19
Personal Readers for Support Reading

Personal readers are collections of familiar materials that students reread. These materials
include materials from the readers, familiar rhymes and stories, and dictations.

Emergent readers use the 1- and 2- sentence entries to help them acquire a Concept of Word in
print. Beginning readers reread their 2-sentence to practice Concept of Word, and 3-paragraph
entries to support word recognition and fluency. Transitional readers read 100 to 250-word
passages for fluency and expression, and content.

Bilingual Personal Readers Content Dictations

Sand Sharks Tim
Sand sharks look vicious, but they are not really vicious. Sand
sharks mistake humans for prey because they don’t have a sense
of us.
Sand sharks eat squid, other sharks, and shellfish.
Sand sharks’ teeth are made to hold, not to tear. They hold on
with their teeth, and their teeth are not jagged. If their teeth were
Personal jagged, the prey could get away. The teeth are circular like pegs.
Readers a This keeps the prey inside.
75 words 42 secs. 107 wpm, 0 errors

After a table partner read a section of the text titled "Web of Life” Darrin, a middle
Transitional reader, dictated what he remember to his teacher
Web of Life Darrin
It's better to have different plants in case one kind dies, there's still some left to
Bears eat fish, fish eat frogs, frogs eat grasshoppers and grasshoppers eat grass.
We need plants for air and they need us, too.
In poor countries they use manure to burn in fires to cook with, because they don't
have wood. We use oil.
Predators eat prey and we need them or too many animals grow and there's not enough
for them all to eat. Mushrooms are fungi -- more than one fungus.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 20

Within Word Pattern Stage Word Study

Within Word Pattern

CATL, CADOL cattle

Long Vowel Patterns

Common Long-A Patterns: a-e (cave), ai (rain), -ay (play)
Less Common: ei (eight), ey (prey)
Common Long-E Patterns: ee (green) ea (team), -e (me)
Less Common: ie = chief
Common Long-I Patterns: i-e (tribe), igh (sight,) -y (fly)
Less Common: i followed by -nd or -ld (mind, child)
Common Long-O Patterns: o-e (home) oa (float), ow (grow)
Less Common: i followed by 2 consonants (cold, most, jolt)
Common Long-U Patterns: u-e (flute), oo (moon) , ew (blew)
Less Common: ue (blue), ui (suit)
Consonant Influenced Vowels
R-controlled vowels
A with R = ar (car), are (care), air (fair)
O with R = or (for), ore (store), our (pour), oar (board)
E with R = er (her), eer (deer), ear (dear), ear (learn)
I with R = ir (shirt), ire (fire)
U with R = ur (burn), ure (cure)
Note: er (her), ir (shirt), and ur (curl) often spell the same sound
W exerts an influence on the vowels which follow it: wa (wash), war (warn) wor (word)
L exerts an influence on A as heard in “all” The sound is spelled with al (talk), aw
(saw) , and au (haul)
Diphthongs and other VOWEL DIGRPAHS
oy (boy) and oi (boil), and ou (cloud) and ow (brown)
Double oo represents two sounds: “long-oo" (moon) and “short-oo" (book)
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 21

Syllables and Affixes Stage Spelling and Word Study

Figure 2-7. Syllables and Affixes spelling by Gustavo, a Spanish-speaker.
Elementary List from 3rd ed WTW

Two Sorts in the Syllables and Affixes Stage

Use the key words to complete a writing sort below in your word study notebook.
insight incite Key Words to Sort tablet baby

human writer
silent rival
winter fever
foggy sudden
fossil duty
napkin tennis
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 22

Syllables and Affixes Stage Spelling and Word Study

(no change, sunning landing liking
double, e-

dumping jumping tracking sanding

shopping sitting tipping chopping

taping mining hoping shaving

landing stopping swimming coating

leaping taping floating dropping

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 23

Derivational Relations Stage

Spelling and Word Study
The Meaning Principle
“Words similar in meaning are often similar in spelling despite changes in sound.”
Templeton, 1986

Morph to morphology! Inflected and derivational!

DC 14. ad-
Absorbed or
(to, arrange in-
prefixes toward) (not, into)
immobile (with) collect accept

account affirm announce arrest

assign attend allocate affluent

illiterate illegal immediate collaborate

correspond correct connect irresponsible

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 24
1. Have a word study notebook. Word study notebooks are divided into sections for different types of word study: word
study for literacy, word study for vocabulary, word study in the content areas. Students can include Golden Lines, KWLs,
class notes and study notes in their notebooks. With 3-ringers, paper can be added to sections.

2. Hunt for related words. Students hunt for interesting words as they read and listen.

3. Chart related words. Record related words in word study notebooks.


1. Determine a stage of spelling for each student and use the analysis to plan word study instruction for reading and writing.

2. Students study their literacy sorts every day: Small group, partner, individual, center/station, outside of school (before
and after school settings, home with significant others)

3. Students study words and sort at their instructional levels: Word study for reading and writing are taught homogenously
by instructional or developmental levels.

4. Be mindful of the scope and sequence and pacing of word study instruction for literacy.

5. Use the WTW scope and sequences for the stages: Within Word Pattern stage – p. 180; Syllables and Affixes - p. 217;
Derivational Relations - p. 234


1. Vocabulary is contextualized in texts and with related words.

2. Concepts and vocabulary are taught together. Vocabulary is taught in conjunction with the concepts.

3. Vocabulary instruction is organized heterogeneously. Vocabulary instruction may be taught in large groups, and then
practiced in heterogeneous groups with sorts, charting, reference materials, like dictionaries and etymological settings.
Support strategies and content support, like partner reading, reading to students, videos, content dictations, and varied
texts and extension activities are provided for differentiation.

4. All students study words for vocabulary, and comprehension; spelling studies will vary with development. Expectations
for correct spelling vary by development.


 Teaching students’ about orthographic knowledge improves their vocabulary learning. Students can learn to see into
words and concepts. Comprehension and vocabulary learning is easier when word knowledge can support the perception
of meaningful parts in words.

 All students study words for vocabulary, and comprehension; teachers’ expectations and the depth of students’
investigations into spelling and some aspects of morphology are governed by students’ orthographic development.

 Look at the slant between reading and spelling development. Know what students can read and what they can spell.
What do students see when they look at polysyllabic words?

 Vocabulary instruction focuses on meaning connections. Students’ knowledge of patterns and the alphabetic layers temper
the rate of learning, the depth of integration, the sureness and nuances in knowing and relating words and concepts.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 25

Schedules and Planning Instruction

Classroom Organization

Considerations for Word Study with Striving Learners

 Students read the pictures and words before they sort.
 They set aside unknown words or pictures.
 A few words and pictures can be pre-taught.
 Reconsider a sort if too many words or pictures are unknown.

If too many words or pictures are unknown, then 

 Turn to an easier sort.
 Add easier words to the sort.
 Delete a difficult pattern to reduce the size of the sort.
 Plan more time for instruction and practice.

Do students know the meaning of the words?

 Use the pictures and words in sorts to teach vocabulary.
 Concept sorts teach vocabulary.
• Discussions of sorts give students practice hearing and using the
• Vocabulary is learned with related words.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 26
Word Sort Lesson Plan Format
demonstrate introduce sort, use key words or pictures

sort and check individually or with a partner

reflect declare, compare, and contrast

extend activities to complete at seats, in centers,

or at home: sorts, games, cut and paste,
expand word study notebook, make
word charts

A Weekly Word Study Schedule for Elementary Grades

Days Focus Key activities
Monday  Demonstrate sort.
Introduce sort  Distribute word study sheets.
 Students sort.

Tuesday  Group sort with demonstration with student

Practice sort involvement and teacher scaffolding.
Record sort in word study  Record sort in word study notebooks or on word
notebook study small group chart.

Wednesday  Buddy pairs for sorting. Use key words or

Buddy sorts pictures for sorts.
Word hunts  Share word hunts and add words to notebooks or
Reflect charts.
 Students reflect on sort and extend to subsequent
activity for repeated practice Introduce/play word
study games.
Thursday Repeated practice  Sort for repeated practice in group, buddy pairs, or
individually. Look for speed and accuracy.

Friday Assessment  Review reflections on sort and principle.

 Spelling assessments used in planning the sort for
next week.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 27
RRWWT, Essential Literacy Activities:
Read To, Read With, Write With, Word Study, Talk With
from Bear, Helman, Templeton, Invernizzi, Johnston, 2007
Minutes of
Essential Literacy and Related
Procedures and Activities Daily, Small
Word Study Word Study activities include picture sorts
Phonics for sounds, concept sorts, word sorts, word
Vocabulary study games, word hunts, word study
Spelling notebooks, written reflections, charting, 10 – 20
Concept Development exploring interesting words, word study
Morphological Knowledge games, and becoming familiar with
reference materials.

Read To Read To students from literature that offers

Motivation rich oral language and that involves students
Comprehension in discussions as in Directed Listening -
Narrative Structures Thinking Activities. Read To students from 15 – 30
Vocabulary informational texts that support content
Social Interaction learning. Vocabulary instruction has
meaning when supported by what we read to

Read With Read With activities vary by developmental

Comprehension level. Directed Reading-Thinking Activities
Fluency are a standard activity. Discussions to
10 – 30
Concept of Word in Print comprehend are essential in these lessons as
Word Recognition they are in the Read To activities. Support in
Vocabulary repeated reading is helpful to many students
for fluency and word recognition.

Talk With Talk With students for their oral language to

Language Expression grow. Creative dramatics, storytelling, and
Vocabulary discussion groups about meaningful topics
Motivation and Social Interaction make it possible for vocabulary, language 15 – 20
Concept Development structures and thinking to mature. Talk With
activities supports the vocabulary and
conceptual learning in the Read With
Write With Write With instruction presents writing
Writing Process strategies that students use when they write
Narrative Structure independently. Writing with students
Verbal Expression creates a community of writers who can
Concept and Language learn from each other as they explore a 10 - 30
Development common topic, theme or editing group.
Motivation Writing activities for emergent and
Writing Correctness and Mechanics beginning writers encourage students to
analyze the speech stream.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 28
Keep Our Eye on the Ball
• Nearly all children can learn to read well.

• We know how to teach children to read and write.

• The classroom teacher is the key literacy educator.

• Students progress when they are engaged in essential literacy activities at

their instructional and developmental levels.

• Students who are not progressing need extended learning experiences in

small groups. Students who have difficulties learn in pretty much the same

Staff Development Activities

1. In professional learning communities, introduce and mentor with teachers a developmental
model of word knowledge, principles of word study, assessment of spelling and word
knowledge, and materials.
2. Examine the spelling features students are learning. Analyze a spelling inventory or a first
draft writing sample with a feature guide to examine features to study, determine a spelling
stage, and find activities.
3. Determine instructional groups. Some teachers begin with one group in the classroom. In
many classrooms, two groups can be brought together for whole group instruction and then
practice in teacher-guided groups later.
4. Introduce easy sorts and practice the basics of sorting: say the words, have students explain
why they sorted the way they did.
5. Introduce independent and partner word study activities; e.g., word hunts, word sorts, word
study notebooks, and games.
6. Determine other groups, develop a schedule, locate materials, and integrate in reading
7. Meet regularly with colleagues to share and discuss assessments, grouping, and to organize
8. Plan a week, month, quarter and year of word study. Where do we expect students to be
developmentally at particular times?
9. Administer and score a qualitative spelling inventory (QSI) 3 times over the school year. Can
be used as an assessment; e.g., progress monitoring.
10. Select relevant video clips to view with students.
 Watch a brief segment (30 seconds – 1 minute, rewind, and unpack. What did you see?
 What are the students doing? What did the students say?
 Discuss the routine of Demonstrate, Sort & Check, Reflect, Extend.
 Ask students how “we can do something similar to what we saw.”
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 29

Directed Reading - Thinking Activities (DR-TAs) Donald Bear

DR-TAs are used extensively in daily teaching for narrative and content materials (Vacca & Vacca, 1996). The
Directed Reading-Thinking Activity (DR-TA) and Directed Listening-Thinking Activity (DL-TA) were developed by Russell
Stauffer to scaffold students to think when they read or listen. DR-TA and DL-TAs are important learning activities because
the process mirrors what good readers do naturally when they read.
1. Prepare: Choose materials and find stopping points.
a. Choose instructional or independent level reading material. To conduct a successful DR-TA
the reading material must be readable for the students. Readability is a relative measure given students’
development and functional reading levels. The material has to be at a comfortable level. Based on what you
know about readability, "eyeball" texts under consideration to decide if the reading vocabulary, structure, and
interest levels are sufficiently strong to constitute Instructional or Independent level materials. In one sitting, the
reading materials should take between 20 and 30 minutes to read.

b. Find good stopping points. As you prepare, read the story and find three or four places in the
story where it makes sense to ask the question: "What do you think will happen next?" In the Predict-Read-Prove
cycle, students predict what will happen from one point to another in the story. Mark in the margin with pencil
where you think a good stopping point is. Post-it notes can be used to make a note of the open-ended question
you want to ask to gather predictions.
The first stopping point is often the title and the picture. Occasionally, the story and the first picture do not
provide enough information to make good predictions; in such cases, read on until enough context for a sensible
prediction is evident.
2. Run the DR-TA. The heart of the DRTA process is the cycle of Predict-Read-Prove/Confirm. The
closing of the - is called the resolution. To observe how students interact with texts, and to encourage active
interaction with the text and you, follow this format:
Predict. Read up to the first stopping point to the student. As noted, this is usually the title or the first
paragraph. Ask students to make predictions about what will happen in the story: "What do you think this story will
be about?"
This question leads students to set purposes for reading. All reasonable predications are accepted. The
prediction doesn't have to be right; it has to be reasonable based on what students know from what they have read.
You may want to record the students’ predictions.
Some students jump right in and others are more passive and do not know what to say when you ask for a
prediction. You can repeat the title and if there is a picture, ask students to talk about what is going on in the
picture, and then, based on this information, ask again, "What do you think this story will be about?"
Many students make predictions without elaboration or energy. Do not be frustrated. Make notes to
remember and interpret what you saw. Later, you can evaluate how the lesson went to see how the choice of
materials and the way the lesson ran affected their performance.
If you do not understand a student's prediction, ask why the student made that prediction: "Why do you
think that?" or "What in the story makes you think that will happen." or "Show me the part in the story, or read me
the sentence that makes you think that will happen."
Read. "Let's read to see if our predictions are right." Show students where to begin reading and where to
The DR-TA is designed as a silent reading activity. Students usually read to themselves. These students
read more complicated texts than simple rhymes, and pattern books. Emergent and beginning readers are often
involved in DL-TAs.
When you begin a DR-TA, you may want to have students read several of the opening paragraphs aloud.
In this way, you can be certain that the material is at their Instructional or Independent reading levels. Gradually,
you will develop an ear for the functional reading levels. It does not take much practice to be able to listen to a
student read orally and make a good hypothesis about the functional level in this context. If in your "earballing" you
determine that the material is at students’ Instructional or Independent reading level then you can ask students to
start reading silently. On the other hand, if you determine that the material is too difficult for students, then turn the
DR-TA into a DL-TA in which you read the text to students.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 30
The ability to earball for functional reading levels transfers to choosing materials for students while planning
instruction. Based on your memory of how a student sounded when he or she read particular material you
"eyeball" a students reading and by comparison determine if the material is functional for the student. Soon you
will be able to declare: "Here is a good book for Steve! He's interested in the topic and he can probably read this
with ease."
Once students begin to read to themselves, glance around to see how students are reading. Look for lip
movement and fingerpointing and listen for vocalization. Compare students’ rate to your own comfortable reading
Prove/Confirm. After reading, ask student an open-ended question like: "What do you think?" "What
do you think of your predictions?"
Listen for what evidence student use to support their ideas. Some students refer back to the text to support
confirmation of the predictions.
This completes the first Predict-Read-Prove cycle. At this point, ask students to make a new set of predictions,
and begin the cycle again. Repeat the Predict-Read-Prove cycle for each of the three or four stopping points you
had chosen.
Resolution. At the end of the reading spend time with some personal reflection about the story. Ask
students what they thought of the story. This general question may yield a brief response like "It was good." In
such cases, explore further, perhaps by asking why they thought it was good, and what part they liked the best. If
students’ responses tend to lack detail and depth, ask a more probing question that gets at the heart of the story.

Student-Directed Reading Groups

Bear, D. & Invernizzi, M. (1984). Student directed reading groups. Journal of Reading, 28(3), 248-252.
Questions to assess your student-guided reading
Students in fourth grade and above can be taught to run their own DR-TAs. If you start to use DR-TA and
DL-TAs at the beginning of the year, students are ready to run their own reading groups. Students work in pairs and
meet with the teacher to plan their presentation.
Here are the criteria you can use with students to assess their student-directed reading groups:
1. Preparation Were you well prepared?
2. Quality of the questions Did you ask thoughtful and inferential questions?
3. Where to ask Did you stop at good points to check predictions and to make new ones?
4. Probing Did you listen to the responses to the questions and did you help group
members to make good predictions?
5. Tact and politeness Did you manage the session using the ideas presented by the group members
without being bossy or impolite?
6. Organization and teamwork Were you organized, and did you work together as a team?
7. Resolution Did you guide the group in a discussion of the work?
Each objective can be scored on a scale from 5 to 0, where 5 represents excellent work and 0 represents failure. These
points can be converted to a grade as needed.
Choice of materials:
Was the material at students’ Instructional or Independent levels?
Did students seem to be comfortable reading this text?
Were students interested in the subject?
Quality of the predictions:
Did students make reasonable predictions?
Did students use information from the story or personal knowledge to make predictions?
Did predictions have depth? Did the predictions pertain to the next event or did they relate to the whole story?
Students’ involvement:
Was it difficult or easy to get students to predict?
Were students willing to risk?
Was it easy to interact?
Did students wait for you to ask questions?
Proving and Resolution:
Did students refer back to the text to confirm a prediction?
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 31
Were students able to find specific information to prove that their predictions were accurate? Did students relate the story to a
broader picture of the world?

Develop Efficient and Versatile Reading Styles

This is a series of activities to consider when you begin a new book with students.
Adapted from McIntosh & Bear, 1991; Bear & McIntosh, 1990; Gill & Bear, 1988.
Prereading, No Book DR-TA
1. List everything you can think of that might be in a book on this subject.
2. Put items listed above into groups.
3. Give each group a name and arrange them as a Table of Contents.
4. Write the book. Write as much about each topic as you can. Try to summarize what each section will be about.
How to Study A Chapter adapted from Bear & Gill, 1988
The following schedule will help you take notes and study your textbooks. After following these steps you will have an
outline of the chapter that you can use for studying. You will be surprised by how much you remember if you
follow these steps. (Note: There is nothing to write until step 11.)
1. Read the chapter title. What does it mean? What will be in a chapter with that title?
2. Say to yourself what you think the chapter will be about and what you think it will include.
3. Look at each heading and subheading in bold print. For each heading, say what you think it means and what you think will be
included in this section.
4. Repeat step #2.
5. Look at the exercises at the end of the chapter and see what you know about answering the questions and completing the
6. Repeat step #2.
7. With a pencil in your hand, read the summary and/or conclusion. Star in the margin or use “post-its” to highlight important points.
8. Repeat step #2.
9. Examine any boxes, pictures, graphs, charts, etc. in the chapter and answer for each the questions, "Why is this included?" and
"So what?"
10. Repeat step #2.
11. Now that the previewing is done, it's time to read and outline. Return to the first bold heading, and in an outline form, write down
the first bold printed heading, and say to yourself again what you think it means.
12. With a pencil in hand start to read the section. As you read, look for the topic sentences; these are the sentences which tell you
what this section will be about. When you come across an important sentence, place a star in the margin or put a “post-it” to mark
the spot. Read on. Highlight wherever the author changes topics. When you are through with a section, go back and review the
starred sentences. Erase those stars which no longer seem to mark key ideas in this section.
Sometimes sections are quite long (6-10 pages). Divide long sections; read until you have enough information, and go to
the next step.
13. Close the book and in phrases, write a summary of this section in an outline of the chapter. You may wish to use a traditional
outline form, or you may just number the points, and use a slant which denotes hierarchical ordering. For example:

Acceleration page 22
roller coaster
accelerated motion
change motion
force of gravity
pulls bike & roller coaster down hill
Be sure to note important terms in your outline. In science and math texts, reproduce simple diagrams and formulas in your
outline. Use different colored pens to make notes for different systems.
14. Open to the section and find the parts that prove your summary is correct. Underline or mark with a “post-it” important phrases.
Close the book when you want to add something new to your outline.
15. Repeat steps 12-14 once if you do not understand a section. After a second run through, go on, if you still have not had an "Aha!"
Ask for assistance when you do not understand a section.
16. Repeat steps 12 through 14 for each heading and section.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 32
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Ganske, K (1999). The developmental spelling analysis: A measure of Volume III (pp. 525-544). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
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Genesee, F., Lindholm-Leary, K., Saunders, W. & Christian, D. (2005). Tolchinsky, L. & Teberosky, A. (1998). The development of word
English language learners in U. S. schools: An overview of research segmentation and writing in two scripts. Cognitive Development, 13,
findings. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 10(4), 363- 1-24.
385. Treiman, R. (2006). Knowledge about letters as a foundation for reading
Goswami, U. (2006). Orthography, phonology, and reading development: A and spelling. In. R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.) Handbook of
cross-linguistic perspective. In R. M. Joshi & P. G. Aaron (Eds.), orthography and literacy (pps. 581 – 600). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Handbook of orthography and literacy (pps. 463-480). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum Associates.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Zutell, J. & Allen, J. (1988). The English spelling strategies of Spanish-
Helman, L. A. (2005). Using literacy assessment results to improve speaking bilingual children. TESOL Quarterly, 22, 333-340.
teaching for English-language learners. The Reading Teacher, 58, 7,
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 33
Word Study Notebooks for Phonics, Vocabulary and Spelling
Directions.  Refer to this page for directions to the sorts that follow.  Most of these are writing sorts 
and others are available as word sorts.  Materials:  Pencils, notebook paper, scissors, baggies and 
word study etymologies and a few dictionaries, and a Spanish dictionary for activity 3.   
Sort 1. Word Study Notebook Sample.  Expand the sorts on the word study notebook page.  On a 
blank page, continue the sorts that you see on this page of a word study notebook:  
a.  Add words to each of the long a columns:  CVCe, CVVC, CVV.  
b.  On the right hand side of the page are homophones.   
c.  On a notebook page to go in your word study notebook, think of, record and illustrate other 
homophones; maybe you want to stick to one vowel.  Here are a few to get you started:  
meet/meat, beet/beat.   
Sort  2. Water / Land Animal Concept Sort.  Use the three columns and write the sort in your 
word study notebook. Add other animals. 
Sort 3.  Open and closed syllables with tablet and baby.  The first syllable in tablet is a closed 
syllable – it ends in a consonant sound.  The first syllable of baby is an open syllable – it ends in a 
vowel sound.  In your word study notebook, sort the words under the first syllables that go under 
tablet (closed syllable) and under baby (open syllable).  Add three other words to each column.  
What do you notice about the sounds of most of the words in each column?  After sorting, write an 
explanation of the sort.  
Sort 4. Two‐syllable homophone writing sort. Write the pairs in your word study notebook.  Study 
the meaning of 4 words that are of interest. 
Sort 5.  Consonant doubling, no change and e‐drop sort.  Write the sort using the key words. Write 
a rationale for each column.  What kinds of base words double when we add the suffix?  What 
happens to some words when –ing or –ed are added? 
Sort 6.  Assimilated prefixes in the derivational relations stage. Sort the words by the common 
prefixes.  Make the meaning connections.  Think of several words to add to each prefix.  Describe 
what happens the prefix joins with the base or root. 
Sort 7.  What does adding –tion do to a word? Directions are provided.   
Sort 8.  From Spanish to English – A Dictionary Word Hunt.  Directions are provided. 
Sort 9.  Interesting words.  Directions are provided. 
Sort 10.  Match English to Spanish Cognate.  Directions provided with the sort.  
Sort 11.  Why do some words end in –able and others –ible? Write the sort into two columns.  
Discover why some words end in –ible and others –able.  Work with a partner if you need.  Think of 
other words that end in the same ways.  Look at these words grammatically.  Examine exceptions. 
Add different suffixes and see how spelling and grammatical functions change.   
Sort 12.  Causes of Disease    by Holly Parker.  Directions provided.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 34
1. Study Notebook Sample. Expand upon the pages in this word study

2. Picture or Word Concept Sort:

Water / Land Animal Concept Sort

water land animals both

fish 2 & 4-legged insects
fins lungs mouth
gill cover lions brain
tail fin humans spine
scales hippocampuses nostrils
gills birds stomach, heart, liver
bass (freshwater) amphibians
marlin (saltwater) frogs
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 35
Two Sorts in the Syllables and Affixes Stage
3. Here are some examples of words with open
and closed syllables:
Open and Closed Syllables
Open Syllables Closed Syllables
ba con hap py
di ner bot tom
na ture num ber
be gin sup pose
pi lot bar ber
Sort the words in this table by open and closed syllable
using these two words as the key words in your sort:
tablet baby
human writer
silent rival
winter fever
foggy sudden
fossil duty
napkin tennis
4. Match homophones For example: insight incite

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 36

5. Consonant doubling, no change and e-drop sort

no change,
sunning landing liking
doublet, e-drop
dumping jumping tracking sanding

shopping sitting tipping chopping

taping mining hoping shaving

funding stopping swimming coating

leaping taping floating dropping

6. Assimilated prefixes in the derivational relations stage.

Morph to morphology!

Absorbed or ad-
assimilated (to, toward) arrange in-
prefixes (not, into)

immobile com-
(with) collect accept

account affirm announce arrest

assign attend allocate affluent

illiterate illegal immediate collaborate

correspond correct connect irresponsible

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 37
7. What does adding –tion do to a word? Record this sort and add other pairs. Find
other words that fit this pattern and chart a list of these words. Find out whyat ioin does to a word.

8. From Spanish to English – A Dictionary Word Hunt

Directions and examples of a word study activity to find cognates.
From Spanish to English – A Dictionary Word Hunt

Purpose: Expand vocabularies through finding relations among languages.

1. With a Spanish-English dictionary find words in Spanish that remind you of words in English.
Briefly not the definition or synonym.
2. With an English dictionary, find words that share the same root or affix. Write these related
words into your word study notebooks.
3. Use a Spanish dictionary to find related words with the same meaning: night – noche.

Here are some sample entries on a class chart of related words that students collected in this
Spanish (Translation) English Relations Spanish Relations
presumir (boast) presume, presumption, presumptuous presumido, presunción
extenso (extensive) extend, extension extensivo, extender
nocturno (nightly) nocturnal, nocturne noche, noctámbulo
polvo (powder) pulverize (from Latin, pulvis, dust) polvillo, polvorear

From Spanish to English – A Dictionary Word Hunt

Spanish Translation English Relations Spanish Relations

Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 38
9. Interesting words. Follow the directions for the
Interesting Word Activity as it is described as the first activity in
Chapter 8 of WTW or on page 3 of this handout. The word of
benevolent below is an example of a student’s word study notebook
entry as an interesting word. Use small etymologies like the ones
below for your word study.
Example of Upper Level Word Study Notebook Entry

“The brown blotches of benevolent skin cancer the sun brings from its reflection
on the tropic sea were on his cheeks.” (p. 33)

bene vol -ent

benevolence voluntary confident
beneficial volition patient
benefit volunteer different

bene - well
volo - wish
-ent - a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns

Word Histories for Upper Level Word Study

1. Ayto, John. Dictionary of Word Origins. New York: Arcade.
2. Hoad, T. F. The concise Oxford dictionary of English
etymology. NY: Oxford University Press.
3. Kennedy, John (1996). Word stems: A dictionary. NY: Soho
4. Moore, Bob & Moore, Maxine (1997). NTC’s Dictionary of
Latin and Greek Origins: A Comprehensive Guide to the
Classical Origins of English Words. Chicago, IL: NTC
Publishing Group.
5. Shipley, Joseph. (1984). The origins of English words.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 39
10.                                       Match English to Spanish Cognates 
Sort English to Spanish pairs.  Notice the common parts.  
Write the sort and underline the common parts, the stems (progreso / progress).  
Make a list of related words that you come to mind. Make the meaning connections (What 
progres mean?). 
Add several words found in class or online dictionaries and etymologies.  
Write a brief reflection of what you learned. 
Additional sort:   Notice the endings of the Spanish words.  Make meaning connections  
What endings are there in Spanish (progreso, sujeto). What do these endings mean, and wh
do the endings do to words?  Are there similar endings in English (progressive, progressed, 
progressing)? Make notes of what you learned. 

honor  vibrate  progreso 

hypocrisy  hipocresía  equation 
subscribe  progress  direct 
magnífico  destino  dirigir 
honor  paciencia  ratificar 
vibrar  ecuacion  sediment 
reason  burocracia  sujeto 
patience  duplicar  tragedy 
bureaucracy  novato subject
duplicate  sedimento novice
subscribir  destiny  magnificent 
ratify  razón  tragedia 
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 40

11. Why do some words end in –able and others –ible?

affordable  edible  favorable 

audible  payable  combustible
possible  invincible  refillable 
preferable  plausible  feasible 
invincible  comfortable agreeable 
eligible  respectable indelible 
profitable  legible  avoidable 
allowable  dependable horrible 
intangible  legible  reasonable 
breakable  laughable  credible 
expandable compatible  punishable 
gullible  visible  transferable
Word study for reading, vocabulary, and thinking Bear October, 2008 41

12.                    Causes of Disease    
   by Holly Parker         Chicago Striving Reader Grant, 2008
Use the words in the third column as key words for sorting. 
Match the words in the first two columns with terms in the third  
column.  Check your sort with a partner to add additional words with 
the blank chips. 

   virus    protist    direct contact 

   fungi    immunity  noninfectious  disease 

   food    bacteria    disease controls 

   water    vaccines  contaminated objects
   fungi    animals    infectious disease 
   air    pathogen    disease pathways 
antibiotics  pasteurization