Spelling MY Way: Sorting and scheduling

I am thrilled with the response to this little WTW series. Though I want to stress, you do not have to USE Words Their Way to meet the needs of your students. You just need to match the level of speller to the correct stage. Just throwing that out there! I know not all schools are lucky enough to have the program, but we can all easily differentiate spelling.
That said; I want to share my schedule and types of sorts I use. I am very set when it comes to what sorts are done when. I think I have finally found a routine that works for me and benefits my students. In just 10 minutes per day or less, I cover spelling instruction. We all have 10 minutes! Somewhere….
There are two types of sorts: open and closed. Same line of thinking as open-ended and close-ended questions. Open sorts are more exploratory. Give them words or objects and let them figure out a way to sort based on common features. Closed sorts are directed. You give the rule, they sort according to that rule. Within closed sorts, WTW names 3 types: alphabetic {long vs. short, etc.} Pattern {oi vs. oy, etc.} and meaning {parts of speech, homophones, etc.} In 2nd grade, the majority of our sorts are alphabetic or pattern based. The further advanced the speller, the more meaning driven word study becomes.
OK, fun with sorting! Like I said, we sort daily. Here is my schedule and a little explanation.

Monday-Copied word cards are on student desks when they enter. I copy them on Friday afternoons. If I was more on top of things, I would have sets already made for the year! Students cut them out and place in word bags.
After everyone arrives, we all get out our cards and lay out the “headers”. Students do an open sort. I walk around and help. Later, during guided reading, I meet with each group and do a group sort with one student’s words. I pass out all the words, lay out the headers, and we take turns saying the word and putting it in the correct column together.
Tuesday-another group sort in small groups with my assistant or myself at the beginning of their guided reading group.
Wednesday-Speed sort as a class. I put the Online Timer on the screen and say START using the large stopwatch feature. As soon as they finish, they record their time on an index card kept in the word bags. We do this 3 times. They are only racing themselves.
Thursday-Speed sort as a class again
Friday-We do No Peeking, or blind sorts. Students find a partner. They exchange word bags {if they are in different groups}. Student 1 calls out the word from the card, student B spells it. If it’s correct they get the card to sort. If not it is put back in the rotation. It’s great practice for the test!
If possible, we sort at the beginning of each guided reading group time.
What are all these sorts that I’m talking about?
Speed Sort
The sorting of words is timed, and repeated until the time it takes to sort the words correctly improves at least twice. Times are recorded in the Word Study Notebook.
Blind Sort or No peeking
This sort is good practice for the actual test. A partner is needed to read each word from the list. Words must be spelled and sorted correctly in the Word Study Notebook without looking at the words.
Written Sort
Word cards are sorted, and the finished sort is written down in the Word Study Notebook.
Buddy Sort
Same as a written sort, but done with a partner who has an answer key.
Here's a little video

This may all seem impossible. I am the first one to admit it has taken me 9 years to get here. Since I have taught 2nd grade, it just clicked into place! No class changing pressures I guess. But there are some things I do that have made all this possible. You can take it or leave it!
•I do not do guided reading On Mondays. I only meet with spelling groups.
•My reading and spelling groups are often the same. If a student’s spelling level does not correspond with their reading level, they leave the group after we have sorted that day and return to Daily 5.
•I use Ziploc bags for word bags. I have them In the supply center, with index cards, that they have access to if they need a new bag. I have also duct taped the edges of the bags in the past.
•I send home a sorted word list on Monday (freebie template below!). It is sorted into the columns that they are expected to know for the test. I do not assign spelling homework. I leave this up to the parents. Our in-class sorting is enough for me.
My next post will be about organization. Heidi from Second Story Window has graciously agreed to do a guest post! Can’t wait. She's got some awesome ideas!
I also wanted to share all this in one place. I whipped up a little word sort resource pack you can use with any spelling program! It has cards with directions for different games to put in centers, teacher reference page, spelling test templates, anchor charts (that are super dooper cute), and lots of advice, tips, scheduling, etc.
word sort
sb_15  sb_16
Click below for a Word Doc spelling list template. Until later!


  1. Great stuff!!! :) Really useful!

    Just diving In

  2. This was a very informative post. Thank you. I have placed your packet in my cart on TPT!
    Where Seconds Count

  3. I have a question - do you give spelling tests?

    1. I sure do-I have to! I will be posting on that as well. Stay Tuned

  4. This is wonderful!! I have started WTW this year and I love all your helpful tips! I'll be sure and check back for any further updates, but just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate this!!

  5. This is awesome! I'm going to start this too. Thanks


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