The new school year has begun at The Nueva School where I am the SWI Coach, and already stories about words have been flying my way. The third grade teachers introduced a project on the first day to help their students build a deeper sense...
Structured Word Inquiry (Bowers and Kirby, 2010) is a way of working with language to show that spelling makes sense. In fact, our spelling system is so logical and well-ordered that it can be investigated and understood through scientific inquiry.
We all know that “sound it out” only works part of the time. This means that it is not a reliable method for determining the spelling of a word. Instead, when using SWI, we start by asking, “What does the word mean?”
Homophone pairs are some of the words that make us think English is a confusing and frustrating language to spell. If we start by thinking about what a word means, we may find that we already have the information we need to understand a spelling.