Frequently Asked Questions about Working With Words Block - Go Back

Why is so much time spent on the Word Wall words each day?

Many of us learned to read through an approach called the "look-say method" of reading. If you had the Dick, Jane, Sally reader years ago, you learned to read by first learning high frequency words. We still value that today, but we don't think it's the only approach we should use. But, for about 10 minutes daily, students will be exposed to high-frequency words. What a gift! What we're doing is making what we can about reading easier for our students. Then, the students will be left with less to "cope with" as they read and can turn their attention to the difficult aspects-decoding big words and gathering meaning from text.

When do I start introducing the Word Wall words?

In first grade and some second grade classes, teachers start the year with the children's names to teach and review the letters and sounds. In those classes, it might be 5-6 weeks before you'll leave the name activity and start introducing the "formal" Word Wall words. In other classes, the year starts with the Word Wall words. Usually, we introduce about 5 per week from the beginning of the year until mid-April (when we pay our taxes). That's when we stop introducing new words and start drilling and reviewing the ones we've studied all year.

Why don't 4-Blocks teachers send home traditional lists of spelling words?

Because having students memorize long lists of spelling words wasn't getting us where we wanted to go! Personally, my students always memorized the lists of words, aced the test on Friday, and then returned to school on Monday to misspell the same words again! What was happening was that students were memorizing the words and storing them in their short-term memories. After the test, the words were tossed from short-term memory banks. In Four Blocks, we've decided that it's far more important to teach students HOW to spell than to teach them WHAT to spell. We'd rather teach them a word chunk and how to make their knowledge of the spelling pattern of that chunk or the meaning of that chunk work for them. If you can spell best and you recognize that it has the est rime pattern, then you don't have to memorize vest, crest, test, rest, zest, etc. when you need one of those words.

Won't parents think that we're just making it easier for students when we don't have them memorize spelling lists?

We really need to educate our parents so that they will understand what we value. We must have them realize that we're really expecting more of their children. We've raised the level from the lowest of Bloom's Taxonomy-rote recall-to the higher level of application.

How often should I do Making Words?

Some teachers do Making Words weekly during the second segment of the Words Block. It's not necessary, though, to do it with that regularity if you and your students prefer other activities that have the same results. There are hundreds of activities that are appropriate to use during the second segment. Choose any that will help students learn more about spelling and decoding that are also consistent with the Four Blocks theory of decoding and spelling.