Word Work...This is How We Do It

Daily Five: Word Work

This is how we do it
It's Friday night, and I feel all right
The party is here on the West side

Remember that Montell Jordan song? It's stuck in my head. That's how it made into the title of this blog post. I can't remember any lyrics past "...West side..." so these three lines are on repeat. 

Ok, nevermind...let's move on :-)

It's only week 3, but in room 301 we are well on our way to implementing all the components of the Daily Five. We've launched Read to Self and almost all of us can focus for 15 minutes. There's just those two or three stragglers. We've also launched Word Work, Work on Writing, and Read to Someone. 

Word Work is serious business in first grade. This is how we do it.

My district uses the Words Their Way program. On Monday I introduce the sort. I always stress that the words should be sorted by word family and READ OUT LOUD. Sort and READ 3 TIMES (I repeat, and repeat...). I want the kiddos to learn the spelling pattern and be so familiar with the words that they can read them quickly. So, we sort them together and I tape them on the whiteboard. Next, I use a pointer and we read them all together. First, we read each list three times up and down. Then, I tell my class I'm going to try to trick them and I point to the words randomly. They love when I fail to trick them. 

Now the students go to their seats with a half sheet of sorting cards. 

TIP: Have students color the back of the sheet before cutting out the words. If each student at a group/table colors the back a different color, then when one is found on the floor you can figure out who it belongs to. My partner gets credit for this trick. 

Color the back, cut them out, sort and read three times. Put the words inside of the baggie taped to the front of your notebook.

Now I get out the Big Book of Poems that comes with the Words Their Way program. We read the poem that goes with the word sort and use highlighter tape to find the words that have the same spelling pattern as our word sort words. Then, I give the students a mini version of the poem. I just type it up myself. Students add the poem to their poetry notebook and highlight the words we found. They also list the words beside the poem and illustrate the poem. 

It sounds like a lot, but once you've practiced the process a few times it doesn't take that long to get all this accomplished.

On Tuesday, we read the words that are still taped on the board three times as a whole group. I try to trick them again ;-)

Then, students go to their desk where they sort and read their words three times before rainbow writing the words in their word work notebook. First, we list the words using a pencil. Then, we trace the words using three different crayons. Ultimately, each words gets written four times.

Now it's the middle of the week. Again, we read the words taped to the board and I try to trick the class again, but I almost never do by this point. 

Then the kids independently sort and read the words three times (yep, we are broken records) and glue them on the back of the page that they rainbow wrote the words on the day before.  By Wednesday most of the kiddos can read the words three times at a record pace!

Worksheet time. I make the worksheets myself to supplement the Words Their Way word sorts. 
Find the worksheets I've created so far here and here and here and here

Thursday is free choice. Students who have finished rainbow writing, glued the words in their notebook, and completed the worksheet to my satisfaction can CHOOSE how they want to spend their word work time. 

Not finished with something? Gotta get it done before you can have free choice time. 

I plan to change my  choice options periodically. Right now students can:
1. Write the words on their desk using a dry erase marker. 
2. Build the words using plastic letters.
3. Use a golf tee to write the words in clay, or shape the words out of clay.
4. Play the game that comes with Words Their Way Program.

Test day. 

Thanks for hanging in there! Leave me a comment letting me know how you do word work. I might incorporate your suggestion into my week. 


  1. I love this post. I am a first time to First Grade (from 6th and 3rd) and am finally starting our WTW on Monday. I am going to borrow/steal your plan of attack and sigh a breath of relief! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks, Joanne! That's the best part about blogs - sharing ideas.