January 22, 2018

Writer’s Workshop and Spelling

Writer’s Workshop & Spelling

This year, the intermediate classes are using a curriculum designed by Lucy Calkins that places a huge focus on the student as a lifelong writer. So far, we have completed six mini-lessons about how to learn more about ourselves as writers, strengthen our ability to write narrative texts based on real life stories, and solidify our ability to write in an organized and neat format. In the primary classes, the term “small moment” is used a lot to describe how students are encouraged to take a small moment of their life and describe it in great detail. We’ve continued using that term in the intermediate classes and so far, topics written have included mixing sour cream and salsa to create “Sour Salsa”, the odd and questionable behaviors of our close cousins and friends, eating ribs from our favorite restaurants, camping, video games, pets, and, of course, doughnuts. Simply put, it’s been terrific.

This week we started our weekly spelling!!!!!!!!! WOO HOO!!!!! GOOOOOO SPELLING!!!!!!! S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G!!!!!! WHAT’S THAT SPELL!?!?!?!?!! Homework, that’s what it spells. The spelling program that we use in the classroom, developed by Kathy Ganske, is based on the spelling development of the individual child. There are multiple groups of words that students are studying based on their spelling development. While some students might need help solidifying their spelling of CVCV words (consonant, vowel, consonant, vowel) like made or pale, another student might need to practice spelling words that have double consonant patterns like spilling or tripping, while other students might need practice solidifying their spelling of words that end in -ence or -ance. Every Tuesday, students will be assessed on the words that they have studied using a 10 problem quiz. Students will be required to study anywhere between 18 and 22 words every week. Every Tuesday, they will be asked to spell 10 of those words on a quiz before they are assigned the new group of words that follow that same spelling pattern. After anywhere between five to 10 weeks of spelling words that use the same spelling pattern, students will begin studying words that have more complex spelling patterns. If I had a dollar for every time I just typed the word pattern or solidify, I’d be able to put a down payment on a new car.

I sent the words home today to give families more time to practice the words after we get back from our field study to Central Oregon. Words are to be kept in the small envelope that has “Ways to Study Your Spelling Words” glued on the front. Before students leave class, students cut up their words, organize them into specific spelling patterns, and have to explain to me how these words are spelled before they can practice spelling them with a peer or individually.

Next Tuesday, your child will be quizzed on their words before they are assigned their next group of words. Below are some tips on how your child should practice their spelling words:

Ways to Study Your Spelling Words

  • Write each word ten times, once a day.

    • Say them out loud as you write them!

  • Take a practice spelling quiz once a day

  • Spell each word out loud five times, like a Spelling Bee, once a week

  • Have a family member quiz you on how to spell them every day

  • Write each word in a Writer’s Workshop journal entry at least once a week

  • Write each word in a Reader’s Workshop journal entry at least once a week


  • Look for these words and similar words in your Reader’s Workshop book


As always, please contact me with any questions, if you need clarification, or if you have this week’s winning lottery numbers.

Mr. B

Dan Barnard About Dan Barnard

Dan Barnard hails from the Green Mountain State of Vermont where he grew up skiing, biking, and exploring the nooks and crannies of the woods. He learned to drive on his parents' station wagons, learned to ski at Smugglers' Notch, and developed a love for traveling by participating in school trips to France and New York City. He worked in many jobs ranging from ski instructing to babysitting to an after-school program that helped him decide he wanted to be a teacher.

He enrolled in Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts and earned a BA in Humanities with a focus on history and a concentration in Elementary Education. After working for two years in a suburban Boston community as a fifth grade teacher, he decided to move west to discover the beauty and bounty of Oregon. He worked for four years as a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teacher in Mosier, Oregon. While working in Mosier he enrolled in graduate school at Portland State University and earned a MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.