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Scaffolding the Word Sorts (Spelling 1 Tutorial #3)

Word Sorts for Spelling in 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade

Scaffolding the Word Sorts (Spelling 1 Tutorial)

If you’re moving into the spelling units, you will find a very challenging activity: timed and open word sorts. These word work activities show in the days marked as “spiral review”. Here’s what you need to know to help your students.

Challenges in the Spiral Reviews

The timed and open word sorts are challenging for grades 4-5. That’s right! Word study is challenging for these upper elementary students too…and much needed.

If you’re teaching 2nd and 3rd graders, they will need additional scaffolding for the timed word sorts.

Provide Scaffolding to Meet Your Students’ Needs

The simplest scaffolding to provide is also the least supportive. Clarify the directions. Simply show students how to set up the T-chart and remind them that they will have to figure out the spelling patterns in this open sort.

The open sort can be completed a number of ways. Students can set up their columns with initial blends versus initial consonant digraphs. Students could also just pick different consonant blends.

However, the warm-ups in Spelling 1 really focus on consonant digraphs, so the target for the columns is sh and th.

Close the Word Sort

If your students need additional scaffolding, you can close the word sort. Show them a T-chart before the spiral review and tell them the columns are sh and th. Then allow them to set up the T-chart before beginning the warm-up.

This changes the activity from an open sort to a closed sort. It also lowers the level of complexity.

In addition to fully closing the word sort, you could do a partially open word sort. This is when you only give one of the columns. This works really great for grades 3-4. To do this:

However, many students in grades 2-3 will need less complexity, so they can focus on the learning the word knowledge. You can remove complexity by providing the T-chart with the columns labeled.

With the right support, any student can be successful. In word study, scaffolding is provided in a variety of ways, I’m sure you can think of other ways to provide scaffold. Please comment below and share.


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