Structured Word Inquiry
One of my areas of passion is teaching students how to read and spell. My expertise lands in teaching children with learning disabilities, but what I’ve come to realize through this journey, is Structured Word Inquiry is beneficial to all learners and also really compliments our school’s North Stars. We have a floor but no ceiling, we learn better together – these are paramount to learning and investigating English spelling. Structured Word Inquiry is about investigating and understanding the true Orthography of the English language. Why words are spelled the way they are, and that English is actually a very well structured and ordered system with very few exceptions. The problem is, many of us don’t know the rules or patterns, but once we do it’s our duty to teach the students.
The results of our CAT-4 standardized testing revealed that one of our areas of slight weakness, as a whole school, is Spelling. Enter Structure Word Inquiry. In December, I was fortunate enough to give a 3-hour workshop to our Language Arts faculty. Since that workshop, I’ve already seen a shift in the approach to teaching spelling across many classes.
Did you know that no English word ends in the letter <v>? Think about <love> and <have> and <move>. Did you know that in English that you can’t have a <u> and <v> side by side? When you can’t use a <u>, you use its partner vowel <o>. Now it explains the spelling of <love>. The day after our Workshop, Kindergarten students investigating the word <of> and now understand why it’s not spelled <uv>. English is not a sound/symbol system.
I was visiting Grade 1 this week and they had written the word <sugar> on the board. They stopped and paused and wondered why it wasn’t spelled *<shugar>. We talked about the fact that there are many ways to write /sh/ in English, not just with <sh>. We also talked about the different sounds that <s> can make. /sh/ like in <sure> and <sugar>, /s/ like in <sun> and <summer> or <cat + s – cats>, and it can also be pronounced /z/ like in <dog + s – dogs>. So much investigating and learning from the word <sugar> – how very sweet.
This is the beginning of a great journey! I can’t wait to see OJCS students turn into amazing spellers. If you have questions, thoughts, interest in the ordered and structured English language feel free to leave a comment and ask away!