An Exploration of Words Their Way

Alison Leveque, Fordham University


This case study explores the introduction of a word study approach, Words Their Way (Pearson Education, n.d.), into 3 second-grade classrooms in the northeastern United States. Although phonics and spelling have been studied separately within classrooms (Cutler & Graham, 2008; Fresch, 2007; Graham & Santangelo, 2014; McCutchen et al., 2009; Vaughn et al., 2008), few studies have viewed word study and the professional development opportunities from its teachers. Teacher interviews and classroom observations allowed me to view different aspects including the advantages and challenges, its incorporation in their classrooms, the support provided with its introduction, future professional development, and teacher perceptions of student growth. Strengths highlighted included the ability to differentiate, student connections in their writing, and a common definition of word study. Several challenges were noted: a lack of background knowledge given to teachers, a struggle with the initial assessment tool for grouping students, the practicality of the approach in their classrooms, difficulty with supporting all learners, and frustration with the online component. Teachers, overall, felt unprepared at the beginning and had a continued desire to learn from the creators. The teachers naturally created a learning community to develop and support each other. There was not a consistent view about student growth. These findings highlight possible future professional development opportunities within the school and a possible framework of mentorship for other schools to learn and grow.

Subject Area

Education|Elementary education|Reading instruction

Recommended Citation

Leveque, Alison, "An Exploration of Words Their Way" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28317728.