ABC / Word Study Work Station

Word Study Center
The ABC / Word Study Work Station requires a great deal of differentiation throughout the school year due to the wide range of students' abilities. This area offers students the opportunity to explore our written language. Please share ideas you like from the book as well as other resources you might consider using for this station.

Ideas from the book I would like to implement in my classroom:

I total agree that this station would require a great deal of differentiation throughout the school year. I have stated before - I think in the writing that I will be lower my word wall to become more interactive but I also love the idea of making it magnetic. If I do that then I can use it for like the magnetic letter sort, ( stick, circle, dot etc.) and magnetic word cards color according to parts fo speech. I like the fishing takle box to keep them organized. I think the kids would really get a kick out of learning how to do the speed sort and going on word hunts. This chapter was packed ( as they all are) with great ideas!
Chris Weaver

I would like to implement the idea of removing words we know from the word wall, and then I would hold the children accountable for these words. Of course, I wouldn't remove the words until most had mastered them. I would like to add a special place for these word, so we could keep a count as to how many words we know. It would be a great thing to tell parents about; plus, students could write with and about all of these words. I also like Diller's suggestions for reading, singing, etc. the ABC charts. We have so many of these charts, if we share them we could have a new one each month for this center. I also think the ABC books ideas is GREAT. I like her suggestion about using stickers to coordinate with sounds. What a fun idea. Jan Prophet -- PreK-6

I think it would be fun to start off the year creating a ABC chart together to be used. The students could help look for pictures in magazines or draw something if we can't find a picture for that letter. I think they would take pride in using it all through the year. I love the sorting words idea because there are so many ways to sort words. I would start off the year easy with sorting words with the same beginning sound and work into word families, suffixes, the number of syllables a word has, nouns, adjectives, long or short vowels, and many other ways. I like the idea of putting words in ABC order and the idea of starting with the names of the students would be a great activity to do together the first week of school (modeling already). Illustrating words is a great way to see if students are really understanding the meaning of the word. This works well for ELL students. Word hunts look like a simple, fun, creative way to make looking for certain types of word a joy. I would like to create some simple word cards to use for a game of concentration to match the important concept being taught with the story we are sharing.
I have a word wall already, but I was amazed at the number of ideas I have learned in this book to make it even more interactive. In our new Sitton spelling book each grade level is responsible to learning certain words and spelling them corrrectly every time they use them. Diller's idea of removing words after everyone, or most everyone has learned them and having a celebration is a great idea. I also like the idea that you could keep these words in a library pocket just in case someone wanted to check it some time. Another new idea about the word wall was changing how the words are ordered on the word wall like making it a chunking word wall once in a while.
Word sorting using magnetic letters on the teacher's desk was just another way Diller uses resources that teachers already have for a creative task. She also takes simple game ideas like Hangman to learn new vocabulary which I plan to use often. Diller goes on to take the word sort game one step further by playing speed sort which I think the students will enjoy.
I like the I can...for each grade level, but I noticed some of the second grade activities can also be done at first grade. The final special note I would like to make is on color coding words. I like her system on page 87. The folder idea on that page was also a great idea and so simple to create. Lisa Hahn (1st grade)

Ideas from Chapter 6, Word Study Work Stations from Practice With Purpose.
Since I teach reference skills, I’m always looking for ways for students to become more familiar with the dictionary. Playing Scrabble is a great idea and I plan to use that.
This year I purchased a series of books on language and parts of speech by Ruth Heller. These would work great in centers that focused on a specific type of word each week. For example: after reading the book Behind the Mask : A Book About Prepositions, students could make signs demonstrating prepositions, or make pages to product a class book to share.
Another example is the book Fantastic! Wow! and Unreal! : A Book about Interjections and Conjunctions. They could make signs for a younger class to post in their writing center.
Linda Carr PreK – 6th Grade

After reading this chapter I may not use my window shade word wall this year, or I might use it as my MATH word wall. I believe making my word wall more interactive as suggested by Diller will be more beneficial for my students. This can be accomplished easier using one of my magnetic chalk boards or I may relocate my 2-four drawer file cabinets side by side so students can use them as an interactive word wall. I'm still thinking this one through. 2 file cabinets may not be large enough. I could place them near my word wall and allow students to do 'sorting' on the file cabinets.
My students have loved using dictionaries in the past, probably because I/we often looked up words we weren't sure how to spell. I like Diller's idea of having a variety of dictionaries & thesauri. (I've never seen this plural spelling before.) I am trying to design my room arrangement so Writing and Word Study Stations can be near each other so students can share dictionaries until I can get enough for both centers. If I model & role play my expectations... Does anyone think this will work or am I asking for "trouble"?
I've done a lot of word work and word sorting in the past. I just had the students complete the activity. From now on I will have the children also READ the words. After all our main goal is to develop better readers, writers and spellers, NOT just "work sheet completers". I like Donald Bear's question re: accountability, "What is the child using but confusing?"
Things I MUST remember:
  • modeling the game, activity/skill before placing it into the station is vital.
  • differentiate!!
  • don't overwhelm with too many activities. However, there must be enough choices.
I love the School Bell link below. THANKS for sharing!!
Lois Schultz - First Grade

In Practice With Purpose ( the Intermediate Version of Dillers book ) she offers a huge number of ways to keep a word study work station varied and interesting. She recommends actually having 2 word study stations. I think that I will want one station for word sorting activities, and another for variations of word wall activities, dictionaryactivities, vocabulary and word investigations. I like her ideas for using content words in a station, as well. Diller has made me rethink my word wall. At this time it is basically a spelling reference. I will need to make it more easily reached, if I am to use it more effectively by changing and removing words as they are mastered.

Another idea that I plan to adopt is the use of a notebook devoted to Word Study. She suggests using sticky notes to mark divisions within the notebook. Suggested divisions can be Interesting Words, Word Play, Spelling Patterns, and Content-Area Words. These would be used for group activities, as well as taken to the word study centers. I know that I can get notebooks at Target when school supplies go on sale, for ten cents each, if this means I'll need more than what students bring with their school supplies. These notebooks can be collected periodically and assigned a grade. This would help keep students accountable.

Terri Warrem - 3rd grade

I sometime forget that I still need to teach my fourth graders word skills. Even my high readers need to work on this skill. I would like to try using some of the games that Diller suggested as a word work station. I think that doing this will make it more fun for my students. I would like to use a word work station to tie in the science and social studies curriculum. One way that she suggests is by having a content area word wall. I have never used a word wall and think that it would be an added resource for my class. I would like to use it to have my students keep track of important words. They could add the words to their journals as well and then hints for their meaning. I can see how prep for this station could get to be a lot and I would like to keep it as simple as possible. I am not sure that this would be my first new station to add, but I think that once my students and I get the hang of having multiple stations in the classroom, I could add this one.
Reagan Tofflemire-4th TSE

Resources and Ideas I currently use for an ABC / Word Study Work Station:

Here are just a couple of ideas - I bought a game called Zingo the kids loved this year. It had pictures and words on plastic bingo like chips and was played like bingo. Every level of kids loved it! I have also do word hunts in newspapers with a yellow highlighter. They love the newpaper because they think it is so grown up! I have used an Auqa-Doodle to write sorted words on it. It comes with a water pen! After it dries up you can use it again and again!
Chris Weaver

We have always done word families with letter tiles. We build a word and then we build new words in the same family. Next we choose 4 words from our word families and we draw about them. We also write a sentence about the word, or we just write the word if that is our learning level. We have always read LOTS of ABC books and written our own ABC books, but I like her ideas about writing these books too. Jan Prophet - PreK-6

I have done a lot of word wall and word study activities in the past. We have had students add words and or pictures in their own dictionary and this was helpful especially for the ELL students and lower level students. When we read our main story we work in a large group looking for certain types of words like compound words, contractions, and others and write them on the board. If sorting needs to be done we have done them together on the white board with different colored markers. I would like to still do that at the beginning of the week, but then have them go on a word hunt either in a center or in pairs to see if they could still do it on their own. By the way Chris, I have Aqua-Doodle at our house not being used and this would be a great idea to bring to school and use. Lisa Hahn

I make crossword puzzles and word searches that reinforce vocabulary from curricular areas.
Students suggest unfamiliar,interesting, or unusual words to post as we encounter them.
Students make ABC books on different themes.
Older students use words and their definitions to make a Jeopardy-type game to be played by the entire class
Linda Carr PreK – 6th Grade

My first graders have cut apart and glued their spelling word list in ABC order each week. Then they write them in their own Spelling Dictionary. (beginning around Christmas.) With Sitton spelling this may change.
I give the class scrambles words, they cut them apart, (ONE word at a time), manipulate the letters to unscramble them. Glue & rewrite each word.
After many word sort activities I give partners or small groups a list of words. Each group is to decide how to sort them. Then, How many different ways to sort the same group of words?
Elokin boxes
I use cookie sheets with magnetic letters
Kids love word searches- Make your own for free at edHelper or Discovery Education See links below.
Lois Schultz - First Grade

I have a math Jingo, which stresses math vocabulary. I will need to look at that to see how I might use that as a center. I have made crossword puzzles to review vocabulary, and made flash cards for content area vocabulary. We have made ABC books to publish what we've learned, following researching a topic. I have used newspapers and Weekly Readers to do different kinds of word searches.
Terri Warrem - 3rd

I would like to integrate the Sitton Spelling activities into this Word Study workstation. In each of our Sitton Spelling units is the "Build Spelling and Language Skills" section. This is where there are 6 different activities listed on little apples. I think an easy fit for the Word Study station would be the "sort it" apple activity where the students are given a list of words and they need to decide how to sort the list by their own idea of how to sort. I also think the "find it" apple would work well at this workstation. I think possibly I could write these spelling activities on a large whiteboard at the workstation and then let student pairs work on completing the activities on a small whiteboard together. Barb Brown, 6th-TSouth

Some of the ideas other people have posted, I plan on using also. Moving my file cabinets so students can use it for the magnetic surface is a great idea. I agree also that using some of the Sitton activities is a wonderful extension. I have lots of magnetic picture sets for vowels, consonants, etc. that would work great here. I appreciate the many ideas Diller has given in the chapter to keep this station going.
Leanna Payne
1st/2nd grade

I do some of these ideas already, just not set up as a work station. We do ABC books, word illustrations, homophone drawings, and a variety of vocabulary and reference skill games. I also do a scavenger hunt with the newspaper. I would like to continue all of these with the work stations.
In the past, we have not focused on spelling at the middle school; however, this next year I do believe we will be incorporating spelling into our curriculum in some fashion. I would like to use a work station for this as well. Sheri Fleming--MS

I agree with Terri that having two word study stations might be a really good idea. Since the overview of Sitton spelling, I have begun to think differently about my commercial word wall. I may try to use those words in a portable dictionary format with either a card file, or binder. They can be used for sorting, alphabetizing, or word wall activities from the Month by Month Phonics program from Cunningham & Hall. Sitton spelling offers so many terrific ideas for word study that will be simple to incorporate in a center after they are used in whole group instruction. I also think students enjoy testing each other on spelling words with whiteboards or small chalkboards. That would be easy to put together.

Another idea I liked was having each student look for new words each week. Recording them in notebooks, or on a paper jar template would be one way for students to expand vocabulary. Synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and homographs could also provide some activities for word study. I purchased a vocabulary activity several years ago, Word Wizard, which consists of decks of cards for synonyms, etc. The kids love it and can use it either individually, or in small groups at a center. I sometimes forget using worksheets like crosswords or word searches, but how simple is that? Another great resource I have used is found on the ESSDACK website. The Florida Center for Reading has terrific vocabulary activities that you can download and print.

Karen Burkholder, 3rd grade

Although I don't use Literacy Work Stations, I have used many of the activities mentioned in the ABC/Word Study Work Station. I usually have students sort letters throughout their Reading Recovery Program. I want them to be fast and fluent in recognizing features of letters and finding letters that are similar and different. I have a Word Wall in my room with high-frequency words for the students to practice. We often do Word Sorts and word building using magnetic letters, onsets and rimes. We practice making words with word families or decoding words by finding chunks and familiar parts. It is easier for children to see this if they can manipulate magnetic letters. - Dee Orth-Reading Specialist/1st & 2nd - Park Elementary

I have never really implemented a word wall in my classroom. I have had them before, but didn't use it, so I quit putting it up. I will definately be using one this year, but I want it to be interactive. I liked the sorting words activity, illustrating, word hunts and playing word games. I have always liked to teach dictionary and thesurus skills, but there isn't much out there for second grade, so I was really exicted to find some activities for these. I also thought some of the Sitton Spelling activities would fit in really nice with this work station, plus the activities are already created. Lois and Lisa I will definately be picking your brains this next year, so prepare:) Melissa Reed 2nd

After looking over this chapter I am feeling a little more confident in our centers we were using last year. Many of them will fit into this area--Yeah! Some other ideas in the chapter that I am interested in adding are: sorting letters by sticks, circles, etc, word hunts, using abc charts, and speed sorting. We have made several activities that go along with animated alphabet that would fit into this center too. We have memory games and letter scramble games and spelling activities using the animated alphabet words. I am also interested in the word wall. I do not currently have one in my room nor do I have a board that my kiddos can get to to be interactive with so my first goal is to figure out an alternative place to house a word "wall". This station seems as though it may be an easy one to keep ineresting and change up activities regularly. Shelley Orr -- Kindergarten --TS

Peg Scherschligt---K-TS

In the past, I have tried to use word walls with Kindergarten but by the middle of the year I would not use it as often. This chapter has provided many to ways to make the word wall an interactive activity all year long, especially for Kindergarten. I will implement the sorting / making letters, doing abc puzzles along with the abc books and charts. I have used words from the Animated Literacy on the word wall and I will continue to do this. I appreciate the comment about keeping this station simple with limited materials due to the fact that the kindergarteners get very distracted.

I have found many great ideas in the chapter to implement in kindergarten as well as reaffirming ideas that I have already been using in my classroom centers.
Many of the ideas that we already use in the classroom are:
ABC Puzzles, ABC Books, Writing ABC Books, Making Picture Dictionaries, Classroom Word Hunts, Concentration with the Animated Alphabet,
Hangman when intoducing new Animated Alphabet words and drawings, Letter Stamping with Animted Alphabet words.
Many of the ideas I hope to incorporate this year include:
A Word Wall, Sorting letters by features, Sorting letters by beginning and ending letters and number of letters in the words, Sorting words in ABC order, Having the students time sort with a buddy.
I know that I do want to limit the number of choices and vary the materials in each center to eliminate behavior issues.

Janet Van Nort- Kindergarten- Tecumseh South
Chapter 7
Currently I have the students do a lot of letter identification and beginning sound work. With students that are struggling with letter ID I often play letter bingo with them. This makes letter ID fun and forces a quicker pace. But I don’t move it over to an independent center and I could easily! I gathered many ideas from this chapter! I would love to have a word wall that the students could actually manipulate and use in a more hands-on fashion. I think I might be able to do that on my outside door or on my disabled heater vent. I am assuming that you can buy a magnetic word wall for the kindergarten level. I really do need to do more word sorts towards the end of the year when students have a really good handle on high frequency words. This WS seems like it is going to take some time to really put it together and maintain but if you just have to add one thing at a time it seems possible. Leslie White-K-Berryton
Magnetic word wall-small easel type.

Great Websites that Support this Station**

Sadlier-Oxford - A website focusing on phonics and word study for grades prek-6.
School Bell- First Grade Teacher's Site with great word wall and Dolch activities. - This site has MANY word activities to copy and use. Jan P
List of word Books by Ruth Heller
Literacy Connections - creative word study activities