Sunday, March 15, 2015

Organizing Words Their Way Materials

Keeping track of Words Their Way materials will either make or break a teacher. If you have a solid organizational system in place it can become one of your easiest subjects to teach and plan. If not, the program will win and you will end up frustrated. I'm going to share a few organizational tips to hopefully help you make your word study life a little easier. 

A few disclaimers before I begin...

Disclaimer #1 I am an organizational hot mess. I love organization and strive to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Unfortunately, my mind and body are always going in 50 different directions which results in half attempted organizational chaos. I also keep changing grades and rooms. However, I have three things in my classroom that I am organizationally obsessive about-books, digital files, and word study.

Disclaimer #2 This is not "pretty" organization. There are no cute binder covers, labels, signs, etc. This is just true, practical organization. Feel free to beautify it.

Disclaimer #3 I am no Words Their Way expert. I've been using it for about 2 years and this is what works for me after some trial and error. Take it, adapt it, change it-hopefully you'll find something that works for you.

Teacher Sorts
In first grade I am mainly working with Letter Name Alphabetic and Within Word Spellers (red and yellow books) so I have my materials divided by red and yellow. For each sort I have a teacher sort that I use with my small groups. To create my teacher sorts I ran one copy of each sort on colored cardstock, laminated it, cut the cards and clipped the sort together with a micro binder clip (5/32"). This is a great project to pass on to parent volunteers if you are lucky enough to have them! Originally I wrote the number with a silver sharpie but it began to wear off. I ended up cutting a colored circle label in half, wrote the sort number, and stuck it to the clip. Not super fancy, but it serves the purpose.  I use a 24 slot tackle box to hold the sorts. Each slot fits two sorts diagonally. I have one box for my LNA sorts and one box for my WW sorts. Each week I just grab the sorts I need and return the sorts from the previous week.

Teacher Materials
Keeping with the red and yellow theme I have one binder for each stage. I divide the binders into the following sections: teacher materials (background info, additional materials), sorts (master copy of each sort), assessments. Since the sorts are numbered I just keep the materials in numerical order within each section.

Student Materials- Sort Copies
The best organizational purchase I made was an 8 pocket folder to store the weekly sorts in (thanks Target!). I currently have four word study groups so it works perfectly. I labeled the pockets with group numbers and placed a little sticker with the number of students in each group since my groups are flexible and change. Each week I grab the sort masters from my notebook, make copies, and place them in the pockets for each group. I also copy the weekly assessment and place it in the back pocket for each group.

You can copy multiple weeks at a time to store in the pockets if you are one of those people that is really ahead of the game. I usually don't run more than two weeks because I don't want to "basalize" the program. I look at how the groups are doing and decide whether to use the next sort, provide additional practice, or skip ahead.

When I copy the sorts I always run one set at 100% to send home for homework and one set at 85% for the students to use throughout the week. The 85% fits better when they glue it in their word study notebook.

Student Sort Cards
On Monday mornings I place the 85% sort on each student's desk. They are to color the back of their sort and cut it out for morning work. Each student at the table picks a different color to minimize lost word cards on the floor. {FYI-there are still word cards on the floor that no one claims, but it does lessen the number}. Each student has a little container to store their word cards for the week. I found these at the Dollar Tree 10 for $1 and they work great. I've seen other teachers use ziplocs, baby food containers, pencil boxes, etc. Each student also has a word study notebook to use for word study activities.

Student Centers and Games
I prefer to use centers and games that are generic and can be used with any sort rather than sort specific games. Students bring their own sorts to play the games. This allows for differentiation and is also super easy to organize and prepare. I did a post on easy prep word study games at Adventures in Literacy Land. I also like to use dry erase word study games (you can read a post on those here). I usually change my games monthly to keep them fresh. In the "off season" I store the dry erase games in a binder in plastic sleeves in month order. Bigger games and manipulatives are just stored in my monthly teaching boxes. I have a 10 drawer cart that I put the games in for my students to use (but that's another post for another day!).

Those are a few of my Words Their Way storage and organization tips. I hope you found an idea or two to use or adapt. Do you have a favorite WtW organization tip? Leave a comment- I'd love to read it because one day I am going to be one of those uber organized teachers.

1 comment:

  1. These are great tips. I'm glad that I found your blog