A quick fix is something we are always yearning for. I’d definitely be buying 6 minute abs over the 9 minute ab video (unless there is a 2 minute version or some drink I can take that will give me a six pack). In the special ed world, we know quick fixes aren’t a thing. You’ve got to put in the work to get the results. Even when it comes to curricular planning. We aren’t just special education teachers we are also curriculum developers and that is NO easy task. Well Words Their Way for phonics and spelling instruction is about as close to a quick fix as you will get! I think the writers of this resource secretly had kids with autism in mind while creating it. I love it. It’s hands on. It’s visual. It’s repetitive. It’s structured. Hmmmm… sound familiar?

Words Their Way is a phonics based system of word study presented in a developmental sequence. It helps learners construct knowledge between written word, spoken word, and the meaning. The program is based around word sorts.

Why I love this approach:

  • repetitive and routine based
  • hands on
  • incorporates the meaning of words while teaching phonics
  • teaches and helps learners create ‘rules’
  • straightforward
  • good for all age levels & skill levels

Let’s talk about data.

When starting Words Their Way, you give all students an assessment that will show where their spelling weakness are. I love this because it’s all about efficiency. Don’t waste time working on short vowels if your student has it mastered, right?! Sometimes I am surprised by the results of these assessment it gives some incredibly valuable information! Once you realize where the student is at – you know where to beging. Whichever section has the lowest score – begin instruction there. The student on the assessment above has initial and final consonants and short vowels mastered. He is working on digraphs. You repeat this assessment several times throughout the year and can show growth so easily!

Your plan is set.

I love how this system runs. The sorts go in order so you have a plan ready to roll. I love using this a paraprofessional run station. Take a pre-test on the set on Monday and a post-test on Friday. Complete the sort during the week. It’s on of those setups that will gradually get more complex and difficult as your student is ready. Read more in this post. 

It teaches categories.

This summer I have been doing a lot of PDs on literacy and vocabulary and I always need up talking about categories and how important this skill is in so many areas of our lives. We categorize appropriate behavior for the library and inappropriate behavior for the library. We categorize food we can buy at McDonalds versus food we buy at Pizza Hut. We categorize answers to who question and answers to where questions. We are constantly creating mini file systems in our brains to store all of the information we know. In this phonics instruction, we are teaching our students to create categories. Words that end in these letters sound like this. Words that have this vowel pattern sound like this. It’s all about these categories that help us learn new words.

Sasha Long
Sasha Long

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