Research and Validity

The following third-party research was conducted by the Center for Research and Educational Policy at the University of Memphis and forms the foundation for the spelling inventories in Words Their Way.

 

NCII Certified

Words Their Way is now listed as an Instructional Intervention Tool on the National Center on Intensive Intervention at American Institute for Research (NCII) website!

NCII Certified
 
 
 

Research Base

The developmental model of word study is grounded in research of the English spelling system and of learners’ developing knowledge of this system.  English spelling is more logical than traditionally believed (Henderson & Templeton; Johnston; Templeton; Venezky).  Over time, learners develop understanding of this logic through the examination of sound, pattern, and meaning in spelling.  Insight into the developmental nature of spelling development began with the landmark work of Charles Read and Edmund Henderson and his students at the University of Virginia (Read; Henderson; Henderson and Beers).  These early studies, together with the continuing work of Henderson’s students and of other researchers, provide the foundation for an approach to word study that is developmentally grounded and pedagogically solid (Bear, Intervenizzi, Templeton & Johnston; Templeton & Bear; Invernizzi & Hayes).  In English as well as in a number of other languages, learners follow a developmental progression that builds on the progressive understanding of letter-sound relationships, within-word and between-syllable patterns, and meaning.

A summary of the research behind the Words Their Way: Word Study in Action developmental model - a program that builds foundational skills including print concepts; phonological awareness; phonics and word recognition, fluency and vocabulary:

Research

 

Findings

 

Put into Action with Words Their Way

 

Berninger, Abbott, Nagy, & Carlisle; Ehri; Henderson & Templeton; Hughes & Searle, Invernizzi & Hayes; Leong; Schlagal; Seymour; Taft; Templeton & Bear; Templeton & Morris

 

Most learners acquire knowledge of orthography following a predictable profession from sound or alphabetic structure through pattern and meaning.

 

At each level of Words Their Way in Action- The Developmental Model, the spelling patterns and the words selected to represent them correspond to students’ level of understanding. In addition to pattern, word selection is based on frequency of occurrence and degree of word familiarity.

 

Clarke; Beers & Henderson; Ehri & Roberts; Flanigan; Henderson; Invernizzi, Justice, Landrum & Booker; Oulette & Senechal; Read

 

Emergent and Beginning Readers’ learning of letters and use of that knowledge through spelling reflects a systematic logic and should be encouraged by teachers. These early spelling efforts are powerful contributors to the development of phonemic awareness.

 

Emergent and Early Letter Name sorts and activities support and extend children’s dawning understanding of beginning and ending consonants as well as a concept of word it text, a critical benchmark in the development of full phonemic awareness.

 

Bear, Templeton & Warner; Morris, Nelson & Perney; Morris, Blanton, Blanton, Nowacek, & Perney; Sterbinsky; Townsend, Bear & Templeton; Townsend, Bear & Templeton; Townsend, Burton, Bear & Templeton

 

Well- constructed qualitative spelling inventories are good predictors of students’ reading proficiency and vocabulary knowledge.

 

Initial and ongoing assessments in Words Their Way determine the most appropriate patterns and vocabulary words each student should examine.

 

Berninger, Vaughan, Abbott, Brooks, Begay, Curtin, Byrd & Graham; Bourassa & Treiman; Ehri & McCormick; Graham, Harris & Chorzempa; Hayes; Invernizzi, Rosemary, Juel, & Richards; Iversen & Tunmer; Joseph & McCachran; Kirk & Gillon; McCadliss, Beck, Sandak & Perfetti; Morris, Blanton, Blanton, Nowacek & Perney; Santa & Hoien; Santoro, Coyne & Simmons; Scott; Templeton; Worthy & Invernizzi; Zutell

 

Providing word study for below- level students that is match to their developmental level is significantly more effective than attempting to support those students’ learning of on-level words and patterns. This hold for learning disabled students as well.

 

Initial and ongoing progress monitoring provides support for appropriate and effective differentiation of word study for students.

 

Abbott; Joseph; Juel & Minden-Cupp; Weber & Henderson; Santa & Hoien; White

 

Word sorting activities provide more engaging as well as long-lasting learning than traditional approaches to spelling. Comparing and contrasting single-syllable words according to letter/spelling patterns strongly supports the connections among sound and spelling. These connections in turn support more automatic application to spelling and reading words.

 

Beginning with Emergent learners and continuing through the Letter Name- Alphabetic and Within Word Pattern developmental levels, word sort or categorization activities each week provide hands-on and minds-on opportunities to examine words, phonics, and word patterns from a variety of perspectives, leading to the necessary breadth and depth of orthographic understanding

 

Carlo, August, McLaughlin, Snow, Dressler, Lippman, Lively & White

 

Comparing and contrasting two- syllable and multisyllabic words according to syllable patterns or meaning-based units strongly supports connections among sound, spelling, and meaning. These connections support more automatic reading and spelling, as well as the learning of meaning of unfamiliar words encountered in print.

 

For students at the Syllables and Affixes or Derivational Relations developmental levels, examining vocabulary words from a variety of perspectives over one or two weeks develops understanding of more advanced orthographic patterns as well as morphological analysis strategies. These understandings in turn support the development of vocabulary knowledge.

 

Bear; Berninger, Vaughan, Abbott, Brooks, Begay, Curtin, Byrd & Graham; Carlisle & Stone; Conrad; Ehri; Ehri & Wilce; Gill; Johnston; Nunes & Bryant; Zutell; Zutell & Rasinski

 

There is a reciprocal relationship between reading or decoding words- identifying them in print- and spelling or encoding words in writing. Orthographic knowledge significantly predicts beginning readers’ acquisition of sight words and the development of fluency.

 

At each level, words that represent appropriate developmental features support the growth of students’ underlying orthographic knowledge, which in turn is applied in the decoding of unfamiliar words. Activities will engage students in applying this knowledge in context.

 

Bowers & Kirby, Carlisle; Derwing, Smith, & Wiebe; Ehri & Rosenthal; Fowler & Liverman; Henry; Larkin & Snowling; Larsen & Nippold; Nagy, Diakidoy & Anderson; Nunes & Bryant; Reichle & Perfetti; Rosenthal & Ehri; Templeton; Templeton & Scarborough- Franks; White, Power & White

 

Orthographic knowledge facilitates vocabulary knowledge through spelling- meaning connections or morphological analysis

 

Beginning in the Syllables and Affixes stage and expanding considerably in the Derivational Relations stage, activities engage students in exploring the process of vocabulary word formation involving affixes, bases, and roots.

 

Bear & Shen; Bear, Templeton, Helman & Baren; Carlo, August, McLaughlin, Snow, Bressler, Lippman, Lively & White; Helman

 

In developing understanding of the relationship between print and spoken language, learners in most languages follow the same progression: sound to pattern to meaning. With appropriate support, guidance, and pacing, English learners are able to apply their knowledge of word structure in their home language to the understanding of word structure in English.

 

Alternate or additional sorting activities and vocabulary development, together with teacher tips, are provided.

 
 

Research

Berninger, Abbott, Nagy, & Carlisle; Ehri; Henderson & Templeton; Hughes & Searle, Invernizzi & Hayes; Leong; Schlagal; Seymour; Taft; Templeton & Bear; Templeton & Morris

Findings

Most learners acquire knowledge of orthography following a predictable profession from sound or alphabetic structure through pattern and meaning.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

At each level of Words Their Way in Action- The Developmental Model, the spelling patterns and the words selected to represent them correspond to students’ level of understanding. In addition to pattern, word selection is based on frequency of occurrence and degree of word familiarity.

 

Research

Clarke; Beers & Henderson; Ehri & Roberts; Flanigan; Henderson; Invernizzi, Justice, Landrum & Booker; Oulette & Senechal; Read

Findings

Emergent and Beginning Readers’ learning of letters and use of that knowledge through spelling reflects a systematic logic and should be encouraged by teachers. These early spelling efforts are powerful contributors to the development of phonemic awareness.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Emergent and Early Letter Name sorts and activities support and extend children’s dawning understanding of beginning and ending consonants as well as a concept of word it text, a critical benchmark in the development of full phonemic awareness.

 

Research

Bear, Templeton & Warner; Morris, Nelson & Perney; Morris, Blanton, Blanton, Nowacek, & Perney; Sterbinsky; Townsend, Bear & Templeton; Townsend, Bear & Templeton; Townsend, Burton, Bear & Templeton

Findings

Well- constructed qualitative spelling inventories are good predictors of students’ reading proficiency and vocabulary knowledge.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Initial and ongoing assessments in Words Their Way determine the most appropriate patterns and vocabulary words each student should examine.

 

Research

Berninger, Vaughan, Abbott, Brooks, Begay, Curtin, Byrd & Graham; Bourassa & Treiman; Ehri & McCormick; Graham, Harris & Chorzempa; Hayes; Invernizzi, Rosemary, Juel, & Richards; Iversen & Tunmer; Joseph & McCachran; Kirk & Gillon; McCadliss, Beck, Sandak & Perfetti; Morris, Blanton, Blanton, Nowacek & Perney; Santa & Hoien; Santoro, Coyne & Simmons; Scott; Templeton; Worthy & Invernizzi; Zutell

Findings

Providing word study for below- level students that is match to their developmental level is significantly more effective than attempting to support those students’ learning of on-level words and patterns. This hold for learning disabled students as well.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Initial and ongoing progress monitoring provides support for appropriate and effective differentiation of word study for students.

 

Research

Abbott; Joseph; Juel & Minden-Cupp; Weber & Henderson; Santa & Hoien; White

Findings

Most learners acquire knowledge of orthography following a predictable profession from sound or alphabetic structure through pattern and meaning.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Beginning with Emergent learners and continuing through the Letter Name- Alphabetic and Within Word Pattern developmental levels, word sort or categorization activities each week provide hands-on and minds-on opportunities to examine words, phonics, and word patterns from a variety of perspectives, leading to the necessary breadth and depth of orthographic understanding

 

Research

Carlo, August, McLaughlin, Snow, Dressler, Lippman, Lively & White

Findings

Comparing and contrasting two- syllable and multisyllabic words according to syllable patterns or meaning-based units strongly supports connections among sound, spelling, and meaning. These connections support more automatic reading and spelling, as well as the learning of meaning of unfamiliar words encountered in print.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

For students at the Syllables and Affixes or Derivational Relations developmental levels, examining vocabulary words from a variety of perspectives over one or two weeks develops understanding of more advanced orthographic patterns as well as morphological analysis strategies. These understandings in turn support the development of vocabulary knowledge.

 

Research

Bear; Berninger, Vaughan, Abbott, Brooks, Begay, Curtin, Byrd & Graham; Carlisle & Stone; Conrad; Ehri; Ehri & Wilce; Gill; Johnston; Nunes & Bryant; Zutell; Zutell & Rasinski

Findings

There is a reciprocal relationship between reading or decoding words- identifying them in print- and spelling or encoding words in writing. Orthographic knowledge significantly predicts beginning readers’ acquisition of sight words and the development of fluency.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

At each level, words that represent appropriate developmental features support the growth of students’ underlying orthographic knowledge, which in turn is applied in the decoding of unfamiliar words. Activities will engage students in applying this knowledge in context.

 

Research

Bowers & Kirby, Carlisle; Derwing, Smith, & Wiebe; Ehri & Rosenthal; Fowler & Liverman; Henry; Larkin & Snowling; Larsen & Nippold; Nagy, Diakidoy & Anderson; Nunes & Bryant; Reichle & Perfetti; Rosenthal & Ehri; Templeton; Templeton & Scarborough- Franks; White, Power & White

Findings

Orthographic knowledge facilitates vocabulary knowledge through spelling- meaning connections or morphological analysis

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Beginning in the Syllables and Affixes stage and expanding considerably in the Derivational Relations stage, activities engage students in exploring the process of vocabulary word formation involving affixes, bases, and roots.

 

Research

Bear & Shen; Bear, Templeton, Helman & Baren; Carlo, August, McLaughlin, Snow, Bressler, Lippman, Lively & White; Helman

Findings

In developing understanding of the relationship between print and spoken language, learners in most languages follow the same progression: sound to pattern to meaning. With appropriate support, guidance, and pacing, English learners are able to apply their knowledge of word structure in their home language to the understanding of word structure in English.

Put into Action with Words Their Way

Alternate or additional sorting activities and vocabulary development, together with teacher tips, are provided.