Last year, Kings Beach Elementary was awarded a grant for Palabras a Su Paso, a Spanish spelling program for students in grades K-4. This grant was very well received and currently we lack a similar English component for grades 2-4. Thus, Words their Way would help Kings Beach Elementary strategize a new approach to teaching, learning, and acquiring English phonics in a vertically aligned, organized method. Words their Way is a highly-effective method of teaching spelling skills, using explicit direct instruction, reproducibles, and word sorts. This program has been around for over 25 years, and the most current copyrights are 2016 and later. When students increase their understanding of how to spell words, meanings of affixes, and word derivations, they are better equipped to read and write while constructing meaning. By improving their spelling, students are able to increase their reading comprehension, acquire more vocabulary, and improve their fluency. With the onset of 21st century, traditional spelling practice and assessments may evolve. Since students will be using spell check and technology to produce their writing, teachers need to shift the paradigm from weekly class lists to individualized spelling inventories. Words their Way would complement Palabras a su Paso, allowing teachers to differentiate instruction in English and Spanish.
Words their Way will serve students at Kings Beach Elementary in grades 2-4. Furthermore, this program can be utilized with all students for many years to come. This program is very beneficial since it focuses on the “Word Study” method of teaching spelling instead of memorizing weekly, unconnected word lists. With a word study method, teachers can enable students to discover where their strengths and weaknesses lie, in order to improve where they need it most. “A word study program is a cohesive approach that addresses word recognition, vocabulary, and phonics as well as spelling (Zutell, 1992).” Furthermore, this system can be used for all students - whether they are receiving reading intervention or enrichment. Instead of focusing on word lists, students are focusing on phonics and patterns. Lastly, this method of teaching allows students to become curious about spelling, looking for patterns in the texts around them.
Words their Way is a research-based approach to teaching phonics that was first published in 1993. The English component would enable our Two-Way Immersion school the opportunity to implement a word study program that is already being used in English around the district. Words their Way, and now Palabras a Su Paso, are extremely successful at helping students acquire needed literacy skills. Since students move through the stages of spelling, from emergent to derivational, they are able to access the skills they need to further their reading and writing development. Similarly, it will help teachers vertically align the curriculum, deciding when certain grades should teach which phonics patterns. Finally, Words their Way comes with assessments to determine how students are progressing through their spelling patterns and knowledge. This way teachers can keep track of what patterns students need to learn and which ones need to be retaught in small group or whole-class settings.
The Spanish component, Palabras a su Paso, is already implemented in grades K - 4. Words their Way, the English component, would be implemented in grades 2-4. To begin, teachers would determine when certain spelling patterns would be taught during whole-class direct instruction. For example, second grade would teach short and long vowels and blends (bl, fl, cr, th, sh) while third graders would be expected to learn some root words and affixes. By vertically aligning phonics within our school, we will be better able to give instruction, as well as intervention and enrichment. Each teacher in second through fourth grades, as well as the Reading Intervention, ELD, and Resource teachers, would receive a teacher’s manual to refer to throughout the year. With the new hire of a paraprofessional aide that does paperwork at our site, we will have continued access to someone who would be able to ensure that each classroom has a set of word sorts to use. Alternatively, teachers can ask students to complete their sort on a paper copy. Students will become familiar with the booklets and word sorts as they graduate from each grade level, making the program easier and easier to use. Lastly, their transition to learning English spelling patterns will be that much easier since they understand how to sort using Palabras a su Paso.
Yes, this program is intended to be shared amongst grade levels as well as with support personnel. Every second grade through fourth grade classroom teacher would have a teacher's manual, as well as the ELD, Resource and Reading Specialist teachers. The teachers would be able to share the supplemental resources and reproducibles as well.
Currently, there is no money in the budget to purchase this curriculum for our school site. On the district level, they are focused on piloting new English Language Arts curricula, thus they are not spending money on new adoptions at the moment.