Sep 12 2010

Spelling vs. Word Study: What’s the Difference?

Published by at 8:05 PM under Teacher Talk and tagged: , ,

As a teacher fairly ‘green’ to Word Study in my class, I need to get into the habit of NOT calling it “Spelling”. In our class, we either refer to it as Words Their Way (which is the actual name of the program adopted by our school), or simply ‘Word Study’.

What is Words Their Way?

Words Their Way is a developmental spelling, phonics, and vocabulary program.  It was developed by Invernizzi, Johnston, Bear, and Templeton.  Words Their Way is intended to be a part of a balanced literacy plan that includes fluency, comprehension and writing.  Word study is implemented as a small component of the literacy plan but it is also interwoven in actual reading and writing texts.

Words Their Way is an open-ended individual process. An assessment is given to determine where to begin instruction. Based on assessment results students are given words to study in order to discover the common attributes.  In this manner students are actively constructing their own knowledge of spelling patterns.  Students learn features by completing activities such as word sorting, word hunts, games and drawing and labeling.  Students work individually, with partners, and in small groups to encourage cooperative learning and individual responsibility.

Some of the students in the class have previous experience with this program because some of the Gr.4 teachers implemented it last year.  The students in our class currently fall into one of 3 categories: Within Word Pattern, Syllables and Affixes or Derivational Relations, and students can either be in the early, middle or late stages within those categories.   When I was growing up, the teacher often gave us a list of words that may or may not have been connected or related in any way, and typically it was on Fridays that we were given a test.  We didn’t really study word patterns or meanings of parts of words, so I became really good at memorizing.  This program called Words Their Way, I believe, is a better way at getting students to learn about these patterns and meanings so that when they do encounter unfamiliar words, they are able to apply their knowledge and understandings to decipher what that word might mean.

Take a look at some recent photos of the students practicing using their word sorts.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “Spelling vs. Word Study: What’s the Difference?”

  1.   Nadiaon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:48 AM

    Dear: Miss.B

    I just read the words there way post and i thought it was really good, now my mom and my dad can see what words there way is. Also I think that the pictures really make the post even better because you can see how we practice for test and more.

    my blog is

  2.   Morganon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:49 AM

    Dear Miss.B,
    after I read this article in my mind I said wow! When I think of it I think of what we do. We sort our words but Know I know what it is really about. Still I think it as the way before the I read this post but now I know what it really is!:)


  3.   Johnon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:52 AM

    Dear Miss B.

    Thank you for doing WORDS THEIR WAY with me.
    It helped me improve in my vocabulary now.
    But this is my first time doing it because in 4th grade,
    my teacher didn’t tell me about it…. It is a really good program because it helps kids, like me learn new words…..
    Since this program is new to me, it feels weird some how….
    I really like the WORDS THEIR WAY program….


  4.   Skyon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:54 AM

    Wow Miss.B!
    This really helps me so that I can really know the difference between spelling and word study!’Words their way’ have been through a lot!It also helps me in spelling and word study!
    Please comment back on my blog:

  5.   daphneon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Dear Miss B.,
    I was wondering why you called it words their way! Or actually WTW on the HW board. I’ve always liked word study and spelling.
    i liked you’re post!

  6.   Aqsaon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Hi miss.B,

    I like the pictures you put of us on the blog.
    Also on the spelling test on Monday I missed one word but you know that.
    And next week do we have to be half way on are character books?


  7.   Margoon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:56 AM

    At my old school we used to do this as our ‘spelling’ but i did it in 3rd grade with easier words ;) i like words their way so far its not that challenging for me though. :P from, Margo

  8.   Meghanon 14 Sep 2010 at 11:57 AM

    Hello Miss.B.

    I think words there way is a great way to learn how to spell words better and easier.What I like best about words there way is about the tests we do almost every Friday!I am new to this school so this is very different from other schools I’ve been to.So far I like it very much.Thank you for explaining how and why we are doing words there way.


  9.   Jonahon 14 Sep 2010 at 12:00 PM

    I think that this Word study program is more unique than the one you had at your school because it’s the one we have is based on a pattern and the one a t your school wasn’t always.
    What else was different a t your school than at this school?
    Comment back.


  10.   Nicoon 14 Sep 2010 at 12:03 PM

    Hi its Nico!
    A reason i like word study is because i think spelling is really fun and i am quite good at it. In Words Their Way i am learning lots of things like new vocabulary, how to spell words i never even heard of etc.
    by the way post some comments on my blog at

    Sincerely Nico

  11.   Tigeron 14 Sep 2010 at 12:06 PM

    I think that words their way is fun because you get better at
    spelling. We get better at spelling because you have a spelling test every week. I like word study. Is the words going to get harder?

    See you tomorrow

    By Tiger

  12.   kalistaon 14 Sep 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Hello Miss.B
    Words their way is a very fun activity.
    I am learning all diffrent ways to remember to spell the right word.
    What i like best is in word their way is that you get to learn and also have fun doing it.


  13.   Oliviaon 14 Sep 2010 at 12:20 PM

    I think you really showed how well you new about words there way and I thought well I think people will maybe want to do it there self.

  14.   maxon 14 Sep 2010 at 12:21 PM

    Dear ms. B

    I have experience words their way last year. I really like the pictures of us doing a word sort. I wonder what is my new sort.



  15.   Miss B.on 14 Sep 2010 at 6:24 PM

    Hi Jonah,
    This is the great thing about education–is that (hopefully!) teachers and other educators are also learning and improving how we teach different things, such as Word Study! One of the things that was different at my old school compared to ISB was that it was such a small school (maybe 250 students in all) and we went from JK-8.
    Then, the students went to High School after that. Everyone went to recess at the same time and at lunch time, you ate your lunch in your classroom then went out for recess. This is still very common in schools in Ontario.

    Miss B.

  16.   Miss B.on 14 Sep 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Glad to hear, Kalista! I think you will continue to see improvements over the year. Keep working hard!
    Miss B.

  17.   Roseon 14 Sep 2010 at 7:12 PM

    Dear Miss.B,
    I think that it is a great way to get better in my spelling.
    You must know that i’m a terrible speller, and words there way is a good way to inprove my spelling.
    See you tomorrow.

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