April 6, 2020

Craving low-prep, playful, and inherently flexible ways to continue learning at home? Word exploring may be your answer! Investigating words leads to important discoveries. Beyond that, word learning is F-U-N. During this time of distance learning, we can continue nurturing vocabularies (meaning-based work), phonological & phonemic awareness (sound-based work), and phonics and spelling pattern und...

October 29, 2018


When I was growing up, there was no word study in schools. We had phonics, and then spelling, and then word of the day. My classmates and I were keenly aware of who who got the colorful stickers, and who didn’t. New words appeared on the chalkboard and in our lives as lists to be memorized—and forgotten. They were a part of school, but never a meaningful part of us. There was no curiosity about w...

February 1, 2017

For most of my life (as a student and as a teacher), word study assessments were a weekly spelling test. As a student, I numbered down the left margin, sometimes skipping lines. I was confident I would spell the words correctly because I knew every word that would be assessed and I practiced those exact words the night before. As a starting teacher, I felt so grown-up and professional carrying my...

December 9, 2016

“The important thing is to not stop questioning:

curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

-Albert Einstein

I am an optimist... possibly an eternal optimist.  I have a tendency to focus on the positive- even when it is particularly challenging.  This is why research that shows students ask significantly fewer questions once they enter formal schooling is particularly upsetting for me.  One of my hi...

November 20, 2016

I find tremendous value and flexibility in the structure of workshop.  Instruction across subjects and throughout my day has a tendency to often look a lot like my reading and writing workshop.  Starting with whole-class minilessons and ending with shares allows us to learn, practice, share, and reflect together.  After our minilessons, we are all able to go off and approximate/practice in a suppo...

November 5, 2016

Many teachers I know (myself included) keep their own reading and writing notebooks.  We want to show students that we live this work alongside them. We hope our students recognize that we sincerely value all we talk about, play around with, and practice each day. We love how our notebooks allow us to become a PART of our classroom learning communities, and not seen as someone “in charge.”  Secret...

October 22, 2016

“Words mean more than is set down on paper.  

It takes human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.”

-Maya Angelou

Word study is a hot topic in professional development.  As teachers, we often wonder what word study learning looks like in our classrooms, when in our day we will fit in word study, how much time we “should” spend on word study, what kind of experiences students might participate in,...

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