So, here's how it has worked. We identify a focus for the unit. We find a text with examples of words that fit our focus (words with apostrophes, prefixes, etc.). The class does a shared reading of the text and we look closely at those words. Then the students search in their reading for words that fit the unit. For a couple of days we collect a huge list of the words on a chart and in their word study notebooks.
The next step is to sort the words. Sometimes we tell the students how to sort them and sometimes we allow for an open sort. Eventually the goal is to have the words sorted in a way that will help us learn to spell them. Students then sort the words in their word study notebooks.
From that point we work on creating generalizations about the unit. Ideally students can create these independently but we help guide as needed. The generalizations then get typed up and glued into their word study notebooks.
The other piece of word study is buddy study. Students choose a word list (words from the unit of study, high frequency words, and words from their word to learn list) of about 8-10 words. Using that list they build, mix, fix with the magnetic letters, then look, say, cover, write, check. We do a buddy check (like a spelling test, but mostly as practice) then making connections followed by the actual buddy test.
Goals for next year:
- Move through units more quickly once the routine is established.
- Possibly do two units of study before doing the buddy study piece.
- Have more of the unit and buddy study as homework once the routine is established.