Monday, September 21, 2015

Organizing Words Their Way!

Words Their Way is a wonderful approach to developmental spelling stages.  It targets each child and helps teachers to instruct based on individual needs!  
Pro:  I can't say enough good things about it!  
Con:  Organization of WTW can be tough in an elementary classroom.

Solution:  Read on to find out!!
This is a long post but, I assure you, it's worth your time because there are lots of FREEBIES!

Organizing Words Their Way!

1.  Groups
2.  Daily Activities
3.  Sort Mats
4.  Sort Containers
5.  Words Their Way Sort Organization
6.  Sort Notebooks
7. Individual Student Charts
Keeping groups organized is key!  For WTW to be effective and to show growth, you must first administer one of the WTW Spelling Inventories which can be found in the Words Their Way book.  

I found this AMAZING excel program from Techy-Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You certainly don't have to use any outside excel program but it does make life a bit easier!

Whatever you use, you will need to group your students.  (All student names have been changed.  This is actually all family members!)
Now I have my groups ready.  Next I put their names into a quick and easy way to help me, on a daily basis, remember groups.  It is also very useful if you have someone push into your classroom to help out.  Click here to see how I made this folder to help organize flexible groups!
At the beginning of the year, all students have the same sort and are working on the same day.  I go through the whole process slowly (days 1-5) two or three times.  It's not until about week 5 that I have students working independently on different sorts and the groups on different days.  Clip Art was purchased from Mrs. Stewart here!
Notice students only need a teacher on Days 1 and 5!!
(If using Spelling City, find someone who has already typed in all the sorts!  It will save you hours of work to simply import lists from another user!)

I keep a smaller version of this in their WTW notebook for easy reference! 
During our morning meeting we go over our daily schedule and WTW schedule.  This is displayed in our meeting area.  
It reads like this:  
Red group-Sort 34 day 2, 
Orange group-Sort 15 day 5, 
Yellow group- Sort WW11 (Within Words Book) day 3, 
Green group-Sort WW16 day 2, 
Blue group-Sort WW21 day 4.  
Click on the picture for your free copy!
Sorts are done on little sort mats from the Target Dollar Spot.  I simply cut them in half so I need only one pocket chart for two students!
You can find these cute Q-tip containers at Walmart for 97 cents!  

I feel it's kind of expensive to do your whole class but I hoping to get a few years out of them!  Plus the added bonus of getting to keep all those Q-tips!!  Click the picture for a free copy of the "word work" labels!  Just print on 2x4 labels and cut off the sides to fit!
Clipart by Ashley Hughes!
I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year getting materials ready.  This saves me TONS of time throughout the year.  I keep all WTW sort copies in a file cabinet.  Most of our sorts come from the Letter Naming (LN) or Within Words (WW) books.  

The Letter Naming book is red so labels are typed in red. The Within Words book is yellow so the labels are typed in...yep, you guessed it... yellow!  Click on the pictures to get a free copy of each!
Inside each folder I keep copies of the sort, baggie with sort for teacher discussion day, and a test.
*Update:  I now include a Words Their Way Home List.  The kids are given one when we start the sort and I suggest putting it right on their refrigerator!  Click here for a post on how I use these!
I find it much easier to keep all of their paperwork in one place.  I ask students to turn in their  notebooks after day 5 so I can check them.  This saves on the amount copies you make to keep the program running smoothy!   The colored dot helps the kiddos remember what group they are in!  Click on picture for your free copy of notebook labels!
 Individual student graphs are a must!  These graphs are intended to be colored in by each student and kept in their data folders or for the teacher to keep one class binder and fill it out each time an assessment is given.  I actually plan on doing both this year!
Click on the picture to check them out!
I hope you have enjoyed this rather long post (and the freebies) about organizing Words Their Way!  I would love to hear any tips you might have on using and organizing Words Their Way!

51 comments:

  1. Where can I download the signs you use for each day of sorting?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm sorry Jenna! I have contacted the clip art artist and asked for permission to share the signs and she told me her clip art can not be on a product that is free or paid. I was so bummed because I would have loved to share!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who is the clip artist? I would like to have that clip art to create my own.

      Delete
    2. I bought the clip art from Mrs. Stewart! The product is called "Words Their Way clipart and poster backgrounds."

      Delete
    3. I bought that pack but the rainbow backgrounds weren't in it :( The pics were good though :) Thank you for all of the tips and tricks. We are just starting our journey next term. Feeling quite overwhelmed!

      Delete
    4. Lisa,

      The clipart pack is just the clipart pictures. I added the background after I bought the set. I am so thrilled you liked my tips and tricks!! Good luck with your adventure into Words Their Way!

      Delete
  3. Heidi, this post is amazing! Thanks for all the great tips and freebies! You are awesome.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Amanda! I love using Words Their Way!!

      Delete
  4. Thank you for your post! I love the ideas of the flexible group folder. We use WTW in our first grade classroom also. Another helpful idea for teachers out there who are trying this and trying to figure out how this will work for you--in my classroom each student has a pencil box where they keep their envelope with the sort, a glue stick to glue in at the end of the week, their color crayon to color the backs of their sort cards, and a pencil to write in their sort notebooks, and a pair of scissors. I have found this to help a lot on a weekly basis! Thanks again for your post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Where do you get your sorting list? Is it made up from your reading series?

      Delete
    2. The list is from a program called "Words Their Way." There is a link to it at the very top of my post!

      Delete
  5. Heidi, just wondering what activities you do for letter Mania?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have girls who love to draw fancy letters. This is when I let them go nuts and make the letters as bubbly, squiggly, or polka dottie as they want to!

      Delete
  6. I have been using WTW with my special education students and LOVE it. I am wondering how you chose words for the weekly spelling test.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually just pick out ten of the words from the sort. You can also pick eight of the words and choose two other words that use the pattern but are not in the sort!

      Delete
    2. What do you do when the sort is pictures? For example, sh/th/wh/ words.

      Delete
    3. I do the same activities for picture sorts! Just like in the assessment for digraphs, only the beginning consonant or consonant digraph is counted right or wrong. I do encourage students to also write a middle sound and an ending!

      Delete
  7. are all of the printable labels using 2X4?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The labels for the notebook and q-tip container are 2x4 size. The labels for the file folders are address labels: 1x2 5/8.

      Delete
  8. How long do each of your daily activities tend to take? For example are your students given a set 20 minutes or so to complete their sorting each day?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Julie! I give students about 25-30 minutes a day for word work. This may seem like a long time but I find it's completely worth it! When students notice and recognize word patterns, it affects their reading and writing as well! I condense the word work component in guided reading so I can focus on it more at this time. Any early finishers get to "play" on spelling city in which ever word sort they are currently on.

      Delete
    2. How do you plan your language arts blocks each week? Making time for guided reading, writing and words their way?

      Delete
  9. Hi Heidi,
    Thanks for such a clear explanation of how you organize your WTW materials! I was wondering, do you have students who are still in the stages where they are primarily sorting pictures? If so, what kinds of independent activities do you have them do? I tried out WTW last year and that was a major issue for us--but that's where my students are, at least at the beginning of the year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Sarah! I'm so happy you found the explanation clear! I do the same activities for picture sorts! (The early sorts from the red book. I have not worked out of the orange book.) Just like in the assessment for digraphs, only the beginning consonant or consonant digraph is counted right or wrong. I do encourage students to also write a middle sound and an ending!

      Delete
  10. Do you have a copy of the spelling test paper available (where it asks for name and sort with the pencil in the corner?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too please!! I'm pleased as punch to have found this post.

      Delete
    2. I love to hear that Kimberly! I sent it to your inbox! If you didn't get it, email me at flippingforfirst@gmail.com!

      Delete
  11. Hi Heidi
    I love this post. Could you please tell me where you got the sort mats from, I love the idea, much better than them flying around the classroom when I have the fan on. I haven't been able to find the small ones anywhere and am thinking of making my own. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Heidi,

    This is a great post - thanks for sharing! I was wondering if you could go into more detail on how the activities actually work. What is "Notebook Ready", "Word Family Web", and the "Word Work Choices"? Thanks!

    Kate

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Kate! Notebook ready simply means getting the lines drawn for the columns and writing the headings at the top. Then they go on a word hunt after and fill in the columns from words they find in books. Word family web is choosing one spelling pattern from their sort, like "th" and making a web around it with words that begin with digraph “th.” Word work choices is my attempt at giving kids choice. They can choose to write using fancy letters, highlight the vowel, pyramid write, and rainbow write. Hopes this helps to give a little clarity!

    ReplyDelete
  14. May I ask what kind of activities you put in your Word Work Containers? I like the organization but was curious what would fit in them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Kristin! I don't put activities in the word work containers. Their Words Their Way sort "cards" go into the containers. Once the sorts are cut they can be a nightmare to manage for 20+ kiddos so the containers help each child to stay organized!

      Delete
  15. Hello! I'm new to WTW and I was wondering how you send home words for students to practice for assessment. Do you send home the entire word list and just choose 10 words to assess? Do you send home a few words to practice then choose a few from the sort they didn't practice at home for the test? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think she said in a previous comment that she sends home the whole list and then just selects 10 words to assess. I am also new to WTW, but I like the idea of just picking 10 words from the list to assess.

      Delete
  16. How do you plan your language arts blocks each week? Making time for guided reading, writing and words their way?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Leeanne! I have a CHI (Certified Hourly Instructor) come into my room for an hour each day. I have her lead 2-3 guided reading groups each day while I run 1 guided reading group for the first half hour. The second half hour we each run Words Their Way groups. My district does Lucy Calkins for writing so I do that for 45 minutes in the afternoon on my own.

      Delete
  17. I love the idea on using the q-tip containers! I notice the picture sort cards fit in there. Do you word sort cards also fit in there?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rachel! Yes they do fit the word sorts as well! I love using the q-tip containers!

      Delete
    2. Another container option that works great is the Extra large gum packs. They are plastic, like the Q-tip containers, just a little larger. Plus you get all the gum! Which for me is a little bit more exciting than Q-tips. :)

      Delete
    3. Hi Janis! Gum is way more exciting than Q-tips! Thanks for the tip!

      Delete
  18. Thank you so much for this post as we are beginning Lucy Calkins writing and WTW this year!! Could you tell me the name of font used in making your folder labels?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kimberly! I used LeebysMakeUpYourMind font on the folder labels.

      Delete
  19. I apologize for the silly question.... Will each student need a word sort list every week to cut out or do they share with a partner??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tera! Not a silly question! Each student will need their own word list.

      Delete
  20. Hi, quick question to make sure I am understanding this correctly, each group gets their new spelling list on the same day (every Monday let's say), or is it staggered (group 1 - Monday, group 2 - Tuesday, etc.)?

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi, how do the kids know which group they are in?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Blanca! This is a really good question! I have a colored sticker that I put on the front of their notebook so they know which group they are in. If you look up in the pictures, you can see it in tip 6. I used to use an address label and color the color. Since then I have switched to a round colored sticker.

      Delete
  22. Question- once you have your kids in groups according to the assessment, how do you know which sort to start them with? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  23. I give students the spell check for that section. The spell checks are in the books accordingly. (See table of contents) They are a great indicator as to which spelling pattern the students don't know. It's really nice because you can use the spell checks as a pre/post assessment for that particular group!

    ReplyDelete