Ladysmith Intermediate School SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Ladysmith Intermediate School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members:Kerri Steel,
Kimberley Greenwood,
Sarah Lucchetti,
Ellen Knight

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Writing

Focus Addressed: Differentiated instruction

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? How does the implementation of a targeted, differentiated, word study program impact reading fluency and spelling skills?

Scanning: We completed a school-wide literacy scan, which included the NLPS Assessment, Benchmarking students who were unable to complete a grade-level assessment, Words-Their-Way Elementary Spelling Inventory, and individual writing samples.

We learned that a number of our students are needing support with fluency and vocabulary development, and that their reading comprehension is impacted because of phonological decoding difficulties.

Focus: We have chosen Words Their Way as a tool to assist with targeted, differentiated word study, to see if this will increase their fluency and comfort with text. Our hope is that it will support them as readers and writers.

Hunch: – traditional spelling programs do not have a significant impact on vocabulary, fluency, or spelling growth
– intense focus on specific areas of challenge (e.g. word study with specific patterns) will assist with decoding and fluency
– becoming independently fluent readers will allow students to better apply the comprehension strategies being explored during other portions of their literacy learning.

New Professional Learning: – exploring strategies and routines of the Words Their Way program
– use of digital Words Their Way tools, in addition to paper-based sorts and games
– professional reading regarding the connection between targeted word study and other aspects of literacy instruction
– tracking data and student progress to gauge the impact of the tool

Taking Action: Using the Intermediate Spelling Inventory, we did school-wide assessments 2 times this year. Participating classrooms completed a 3rd mid-year.

We tracked overall classroom data, as well as individual students. Two classrooms implemented a more “traditional” Words Their Way program- sorts and activities each week, pre and post tests for spelling growth beginning and end of week. The third classroom used the data to inform practice, some word sort activities, but also specific, intentional vocabulary instruction embedded in other areas of classroom learning.

The classroom with a more holistic approach had greater results than the classrooms using words their way as sorts toward a weekly spelling test.

Checking: Teacher observations:
The Words Their Way program has made me look more deeply at my own teaching practice and spelling assessment. I find myself spiraling within the Spiral of Inquiry because I have deeper questions about teaching spelling, patterns, and assessment.

Sample student reflections:
I am a good speller because I like to make books and I have a little brother that I help him with making books. It’s hard when you are trying then you get distracted. People learn to spell when they write or read a book. When I don’t know how to spell a word, I try to sound it out. Next year, the class shouldn’t do spelling lists because you can just write stuff and make a draft then you will get better and better.

I am a good speller because have done very good in spelling tests and I’m an author. It’s hard when you are trying big words. People learn to spell by practicing. When I don’t know how to spell a word, I ask a friend for help. Next year, the class shouldn’t do spelling lists because because they probably already know all of the words.

Our students are able to reflect on their own spelling skills, did not consider differences between intentional word study and the word sorts.

We saw some growth with all groups, but did not see a dramatic increase in spelling skills as a whole. The class with the biggest increase in reading fluency also did specific fluency practice The students would benefit from more intentional reflection and personal goal setting.

Outside of the NOIIE team, the Student Support teacher was also pleased with the increase in fluency and decoding skills for students receiving Tier 2 and 3 supports.

Reflections/Advice: We see value in the program, and appreciate the intentional nature of the program. We would like to use the Primary Inventory for our struggling learners, as the Intermediate Inventory does not break down the early skills specifically enough.

We are considering ways to add more intentional student goal setting and reflection, to see if it deepens their learning. We are also wondering about blending the word sorts with other types of vocabulary and fluency practice across curricular areas.

This embeds well as part of a Literacy Cafe structure. It is less efficient as a whole-class structure. Mini-lessons are critical in terms of offering individual feedback to students.

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