Words Their Way - Part 2

I have my groups, now what?!

Where are you now?

I have been able to...

I'm having trouble with...

Organization is Important!

How are you keeping track of your groups?

Introducing Word Sorts

Instruction in word study, as in comprehension and other areas of the curriculum, should follow a gradual release model that begins with teacher modeling and explicit explanations and moves to guided practice and then to independent work.

Teacher-Directed Closed Sorts (page 61)

  • Highest level of support
  • Common approach to introduce new sort to a group
  • Four components: demonstrate, sort and check, reflect, and extend

Teacher-Directed Guess My Category (page 62)

  • Key words or pictures provided, but no explanation
  • Useful in exploring content specific vocabulary
  • Students can come up with own categories

Student-Centered Sorts (page 63)

  • Increase cognitive demand
  • Provide key words and headings for support
  • Open sorts demand high level of independent effort
  • Students compare categories with a partner and begin reflection part before sharing with the group

Teacher Talk and Student Refelction

  • What do you notice about these words? How are they alike?
  • Where in the word do you find the spelling pattern?
  • In your word hunts, which pattern did you find more frequently? Which pattern has the most words in the column? The fewer?
  • If you're not sure how to spell a word with a long a sound, how would you know which pattern to use? What would be your best bet? Why?
  • Can you divide the word into parts? What is the base word? Are there any prefixes or suffixes?
  • Do the word parts give you information about the word's meaning?
  • Can you think of other words that have the same sound (or root, base word, etc.)?
  • What did you learn that might help you be a better speller or a better reader?

Types of Sorts

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Pacing and Sequence Guide

Emergent Stage (pages 122-146)

  • Phonological Awareness
  • Alphabet Knowledge
  • Letter-Sound Knowledge
  • Concepts about Print
  • Concept of Word in Text

Letter Name-Alphabetic Stage (page 161)


  • Initial Sound
  • Same-Vowel Word Families
  • Digraphs
  • Blends


  • Mixed-Vowel Word Families
  • Picture Sorts for Short Vowels


  • Short Vowels in CVC Words
  • Short Vowels with Blends and Digraphs
  • Preconsonatal Nasals
  • R-Influenced

Consonant Confusions for English Learners (page 174)

Within Word Pattern Stage (page 216)

Early - Common and less common long vowels

Middle - r-Influenced vowels

Late - Diphthongs and Other ambiguous vowels

Complex Consonants


Syllables and Affixes Stage (page 257)

Finding Word Lists