Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Words Their Way, OUR way Part 5: Routine & Differentiated Mini-lessons

Now that you have motivated your students and set goals, you are ready to introduce your Word Study routines. I have some tips to help you introduce these routines whole group so that later on, your students will have clear expectations as to what they are to accomplish as they work independently in the Word Study center.  

Introduce the Word Study Routine Whole Group

Words Their Way has a multitude of Word Sorts that are called Concept Sorts. At the beginning of the year, I use these sorts to acclimate the students for our morning routine and weekly Word Work procedures. The entire class has the same assignment and we “practice” the morning routine which I refer to as our TUNE UPS—remember we are rockin’ readers and we need to “tune up” before our rehearsals (independent Word Work center activities)! Teehee. The kids love this. Drum roll, please.

“Tune Ups”: Differentiated Mini-lessons

Once you have your routine in place, you are ready to start differentiating your lesson content for each group. Prior to meeting with each rock band (word study group) I organize their daily activities in their own color-coded bins so they can access their assignment during their independent work during our Daily 5 rotations:

If you would like to download a copy of the bin labels, bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:

After our morning meeting, we distribute the Anchor Activity Folders and I call each rock band for a “tune up” lesson before we begin our Daily 5. Depending on the lesson you have planned, the tune up lessons should only take about 5 minutes. Enough time to touch base, revisit our goals and motivate one another.

We begin by stating our Word Study goal and dive into our mini lesson. We review the phonics rule for our weekly sort, practice the sort and I then explain the Word Work activity that they will complete independently during our Daily 5 centers. Their daily activity is in their assigned bin located at the Word Study Center. They help themselves to the resources they need for the day when they are ready to complete their Word Work.

Here is a glimpse of my weekly plan book to give you a better idea of how we manage our time:

Word Work Routine

I have found using a Monday – Friday routine difficult to follow due to schedule restraints: days off, assemblies, special events, etc. In addition, if all students are in need of the same materials each day you may run into a shortage of supplies (computers, fluency phones, decodable readers, etc). I find it best to vary my Word Study activities instead of having the class complete the same “type” of activity on each day. For example, if the whole class was assigned a “Write the Room”, it would be difficult to manage your small guided reading groups with 15+ students walking around the classroom.

I have a variety of resources that I use that are engaging, challenging yet not too easy… just right! You can refer to them HERE in Part 2: Getting Organized.

One consistent part of our daily routine is that each student is required to buddy up with someone in their rock band (word study group) and complete the speed sort. After the speed sort is completed, they complete their assigned written activity. It is highly beneficial for the students to complete the speed sort each day so they are exposed to the spelling rule often and repetitively.

If you are not a fan of assigning your students with worksheets (reading comprehension, cut and paste matching, etc.) you can assign the following activities that your students can easily complete in their Word Study Journal: 
  • Written Sort
  • Rainbow Write
  • Pyramid Words
  • Stamping the words
  • Play doh the words
  • Dry erase write the words
  • Stencil the words
  • Wikki Stix the words
  • Write each word in a sentence
  • Type the words
Now that you have your Word Study routines in place it is now time to consider how you will assess your students and evaluate their growth.  I have some simple solutions for you!

To read more, visit: 

If you would like to download a copy of the bulletin board display, and related resources mentioned in this article to help motivate your differentiated Words Their Way groups, visit my TpT store:

This is a seven-part blog series.

Click below to jump right to what you need to know:
  Part 1: Getting Started Part 2: Getting Organized Part 3: Plan & Prep Part 4: Motivation & Goal Setting Part 5: Routine & Mini Lessons Part 6: Assessment Part 7: Read to Self as Word Study


  1. Thank you for sharing! I'm always looking for new ways for my students to practice their spelling words.

  2. You have an excellent routine going on with word work. I love your rock star theme with the "tune ups" which really motivates your students. I like how you organize your word make it look so easy to do. Word work is so important in 1st grade and I bet the 2nd grade teachers are so grateful for all the hard work you put into organizing and differentiating for your students. Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. I love how you broke this down!! So easy to read and be able to put into practice. Thank you for sharing these ideas! Love the organization of it all too!