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Word Matters

Word Matters

Teaching Phonics and Spelling in the Reading/Writing Classroom

By Irene Fountas, Gay Su Pinnell

Word Matters presents essential information to help children learn about letters, sounds, and words. The central goal is to teach children to become readers who can take words apart while reading for meaning, and writers who can construct words while writing to communicate. 

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In 1996, Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas presented Guided Reading, the most comprehensive guided reading resource ever published. Hailed for its practical, systematic approach, the book showed hundreds of thousands of teachers how to address the needs of the whole classroom as well as individual readers. Now, with the publication of Word Matters, Pinnell and Fountas offer K-3 teachers the same unparalleled support, this time focusing on phonics and spelling instruction.

Word Matters presents essential information on designing and implementing a high-quality, systematic literacy program to help children learn about letters, sounds, and words. The central goal is to teach children to become "word solvers": readers who can take words apart while reading for meaning, and writers who can construct words while writing to communicate. Where similar books are narrow in focus, Word Matters presents the theoretical underpinnings and practical wherewithal of word study in three contexts:

  • word study that includes systematically planned and applied experiences focusing on the elements of letters and words
  • writing, including how children use phoneme-grapheme relationships, word patterns, and principles to develop spelling ability
  • reading, including teaching children how to solve words with the use of phonics and visual-analysis skills as they read for meaning.

Each topic is supported with a variety of practical tools: reproducible sheets for a word study system and for writing workshop; lists of spelling minilessons; and extensive word lists, including frequently used words, antonyms, synonyms, and more. Armed with these tools—and the tried-and-true wisdom of Gay Su Pinnell and Irene Fountas—teachers can help students develop not just the "essential skills," but also a joyful appreciation of their own literacy.

Additional Resource Information

(click any section below to continue reading)


I. A Quality Literacy Program: Supporting Young Word Solvers
1. Eight Principles of Literacy Learning
2. Designing a Quality Literacy Program 
3. Becoming a Word Solver 
4. A Dynamic Classroom Environment for Word Solving
5. Interactive Word Walls and Charts
II. Understanding Language and Words
6. What Teachers Need to Know About Language 
7. Building on Early Learning
8. What's in a Word? Phonological and Orthographic Awareness
III. Word Study: Investigating Letters and Words
9. What Children Need to Know About Letters and Words
10.Assessing What Children Know
11. Word-Solving Strategies: Organize to Teach
12. Teaching for Print and Sound Knowledge
13. Word Explorers: Teaching for Strategies That Promote Active Inquiry
14. A Comprehensive Word Study System
IV. Inside Reading and Writing: Learning About Letters and Words
15. Interactive Writing: Developing Word-Solving Strategies
16. The Writing Workshop: Support for Word Learning, Mary Ellen Giacobbe
17. Reading Instruction: Systematic Observation and Teaching for Word Solving
18. Guided Reading: Powerful Teaching for Word Solving
V. Thinking Comprehensively About Word Matters
19. Establishing Benchmarks for Progress
20. Thinking Comprehensively About Word Solving
1. Alphabet Books 2. Books for Word Play 3. Alphabet Linking Chart 4. 100 High-Frequency Words 5. 500 High-Frequency Words 6. Words with Consonants (initial and final)  7. Words with Consonant Clusters (initial)  8. Words with Consonant Clusters (final)  9. Words with Consonant Digraphs (initial)  10. Words with Consonant Digraphs (final)  11. Words with Double Consonants  12. Words with Short Vowel Sounds  13. Words with Vowels and "r"  14. Words with Silent "e"  15. Phonograms 16. Multisyllable Words  17. Words with Silent Letters  18. Contractions 19. Compound Words  20. Affixes 21. Prefixes  22. Adding Endings  23. Synonyms  24. Antonyms  25. Homographs  26. Homophones 27. Plurals  28. Spelling Demons  29. Shortened Words (Clipped Words)  30. Onomatopoeic Words 31. Greek Roots  32. Latin Roots  33. Portmanteau Words  34. Possible Minilessons  35. Process Interview: Reading  36. Process Interview: Writing  37. Have a Try  38. Word Strips for Spelling Dictionary  39. Word Search  40. Crossword Puzzle  41. Words to Learn (3 samples)  42. Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check Study Sheet (2 samples)  43. Buddy Check Sheets (3 samples) 44. Making Connections (2 samples) 45. My Finished Writing  46. Topics I Can Write About  47. My Proofreading List  48. Frequently Used Words  49. What I Know About Writing Words  50. Words I'm Learning How to Write (A Personal Word Wall) 51. Writers' Workshop Guidelines 52. Word Study Board Icons

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