Professional Development

Using Structure Word Inquiry as a Framework

This framework, which follows the hierarchy of investigating words using Morphology first, then Etymology, then Phonology, will be explained and practiced. SWI uses four questions to guide inquiry, all which will be outlined, demonstrated, and worked through.

Understanding Old English, Latin(s), French and Greek

The focus in this topic is to begin to identify and understand languages of origin (often more than one), and what this can do to give students insight into spelling, meaning and history.

What is a Grapheme?

Many teachers believe that they have an understanding that a grapheme is a letter, which is true, except when it isn’t. This topic clarifies for teachers and then for students to understand not only what IS a grapheme, but what role it plays within a word.

“Sight Words” and the Truth That There Are No Exceptions

The truth about “sight words” is that they are English words that single-sound single-letter correspondence can not explain. But what if these words COULD be explained and could even fit into our writing system as easily as what teachers call CVC words. This focus will free teachers from the guilt of saying “you just have to memorize these” and give them resources to be able to free their students from the guilt of continually making errors with them.

Historical Grapheme Connections

This study will reach deeper into the history of English and look at examples of related graphemes (such as <igh> and <c>, night~nocturnal) and will have teachers recognizing the possibility of connections they are not yet aware of through the study of word families and denotations.

Differentiations and Classroom Implications: Phonology vs. Phonetics & Stress-timed vs. Syllable-Timed

This topic will build the understanding that phonology is a phenomenon that is “all in your head”, and very different than phonetics. Discussion will clear up misconceptions and implications to phonemic awareness. The second piece in this topic of stress and syllables will address stress in English, how it affects pronunciations and grammar, and how you can help students better understand it to apply in their writing and spelling. A focus on Function and Content/Lexical Words will be included.

A Brief History of English

The rich history of our language and dates associated with major changes will be addressed here. Viking incursions, prestige dialects, vowel shifts and more can be included within this topic. The purpose is to give educators a taste of the complexity of our language and the great history that can be unearthed in every word.

The TRUE magic of <e>

For decades teachers have been giving the letter <e> magical powers, hopping or jumping over a consonant to change a vowel sound. But what is <e> does much much more than changing the quality of a vowel? What if it is ever present, potentially surfacing in more words than imaginable?

Silent Letters

Silent letters have plagued teachers and students alike. But not all silent letters are created equal. This topic will focus on silent letters that may or may not surface (such as the <g> in <sign> or the <p> in <pteradactyl> or the <w> in <two>) and their purpose within their families and the writing system. This study causes many “Aha!”s and sighs of relief from students and teachers.