AUDIENCE: K-12 Teachers are encouraged to attend.
Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) (Bowers & Kirby, 2010) is an approach to literacy instruction which applies the principles of scientific inquiry to understand the surprisingly logical, ordered way English spelling reflects the meanings and pronunciation of words. The ultimate goal of typical spelling instruction increasing spelling accuracy. By contrast, SWI targets understanding of how English spelling works as leverage for literacy instruction (reading, vocabulary, spelling) across the grades and as leverage deepening understanding of concepts and terms in any subject area. See a short document introducing these concepts at THIS LINK.
This course is a real-time online course. It uses a free program called Zoom that allows participants to all attend from their own computer. Bowers can share his screen so that participants can follow along and ask questions at any time. The sessions are not recorded, so you need to attend at the assigned dates/times.
In this course, Dr. Bowers will use lessons from classrooms to help teachers understand how English spelling works and ways that this understanding can be brought to life in the classroom. SWI uses an inquiry-based approach to study interrelationship between morphology (bases and affixes), etymology (historical connections between words) and phonology (grapheme-phoneme correspondences) to help students understand the spellings of “sight words” like of, rough, sign, does etc. We draw on the same spelling concepts that explain these high frequency words to make sense of the meaning-spelling connections between words to understand key concepts. For example, in science we can learn that the word “evidence” has a base vide for ‘see” (e + vide/ + ence) so that “evidence” is something that you take out to look at to support or reject a hypothesis. That base builds words like “provide” (to look ahead), but is also historically related to words with the base vise (visor, visible, provision) and view with this same sense and meaning of “see”.
Participants in this course will work through model investigations so that they can become independent “word scientists” with their students of any age and ability. The structure of two 1.5 hour sessions in December and two in January allows teachers to try out activities between sessions knowing that they can seek out help with questions that come up. Between sessions teachers are encouraged to share questions that come up so that Pete can share with the group and design sessions based on teachers’ real world experiences with SWI. While the exact content of the 4 sessions will evolve based on the questions and interest of the group, the descriptors below provide a framework of main concepts we will address:
Session #1 Dec. 5
Word Families: Understanding the interrelation of spelling-meaning-pronunciation
We investigate morphological families (words that share a base) to understand grapheme-phonme correspondences that otherwise are treated as exceptions. We introduce the matrix and the word sum and grapheme-phoneme diagrams and the process of “spelling-out that will be revisited throughout the 4 sessions.
Session #2 Dec. 11
Expanding on Word Families — Understanding morphological and etymological families
We study at the relationship between morphology (word structure with bases and affixes — with the matrix and word sum) and etymology (historical roots of words) and the relationship to grapheme-phoneme correspondences. We also learn how to read etymological sources to collect words to investigate.
Session #3 Jan 15: Spelling-out-loud and writing-out-loud
From the first session we will be practicing the process of spelling-out graphemes, phonemes, markers and suffixing changes. But in this session we will nail down these conventions, explore why they are so important, and how to integrate into everyday instruction and assessment.
Session #4 Jan 30: Integrating SWI: Guided word reading, reading comprehension and vocabulary instruction and more
For our last session a major focus will be revisiting the orthographic concepts studied throughout the course but in this session we will be more explicit in how to draw on the concepts and practices of SWI in the teaching of any subject area — with an emphasis on learning to read, and learning from reading in any area.