In my classroom, Word study always begins with analyzing the students first name the first week of school. I got this idea from Max Brand's book called Word Savvy. I am lucky enough to work in the district with Max and have heard him speak numerous times. I bought into his book hook line and sinker when I read this introduction.
Tired of assigning weekly spelling lists that your students memorize for the test only to have them misspell the words in their daily writing? Then join Max Brand in his fifth-grade classroom where word learning is integrated fully into literacy workshops.
First of all I absolutely agree with Max about weekly spelling tests. I abandoned them about six years ago, and we create personal spelling dictionaries as well as focusing on specific spelling patterns that are determined through a beginning of the year spelling assessment as well as looking at each students' writing. Next, I teach 5th grade so it was a perfect fit for me. His second chapter is called Planning for First Eight Weeks and honestly I followed that in the beginning and now I have made my lessons my own. Lastly because of time, I have to incorporate word study into my whole day every day. Every Wednesday I introduce a new mini lesson in word study based on my students' needs that I observe in their writing as well as implementing my state indicators.
I believe strongly that Open and Closed sorts are important even though sorting is typically a primary concept. Closed sorts are when you give students a rule to follow and they put the cards in the correct group. For example: first names with Long vowels sounds. Open sorts are when the students sort the cards and then someone has to figure out their rule.
We start the year with closed sorting observing the students' names:
*Counting consonants and vowels
*Reviewing long and short vowel patterns
*Review of ABC order (which is fun with three names starting with J)
*Counting syllables: I have found this to be a difficult skill in the past
With each of these mini lessons, we build class anchor charts that will be posted in the classroom for the rest of the year. Building on these principles will develop a strong foundation for working on spelling and increasing vocabulary.