Sunday, July 22, 2012

Chunk Challenge Spelling Resource

Hello Everyone!
I have had several e-mails asking how I teach phonics, spelling, wordwork etc.  Our word work program is always a work in progress, but I am happy with where we are right now.  Spelling is a developmental curriculum area, so just like our reading and math, we believe that we need to meet our students where they are.  Rather than giving all of our students the same list of words to practice, and giving them a spelling test on Fridays, we have our students choose their own words. We choose 2-3 "chunks" each week from which to develop and grow word knowledge.  We teach the phonics rules through the chunks, use the chunks in reading, Daily 5 word work, poetry, etc. After brainstorming as many words as we can think of that have those chunks, our kiddos  begin selecting their own words.  We encourage our higher level kids to choose more difficult words, and at the same time our striving learners to stick with the more basic words.  On Fridays, we have our Spell Check.  Students have a folder in which they store all their recording sheets.   We pronounce the chunk one at a time, as the kids write the chunk and three words that include that chunk. 
 We also have opportunity for kids to work on "Words To Know" or the sight words that we expect our first graders to be able to write with automaticity by the end of the year. We choose about 3 words each week for the kids to practice.  Check for mastery happens during our Spell Check and during writing conferences during the week.
I truly believe that when students are given the power to choose their own words, the level of committment and ownership we see in our students and their work is unsurpassed. 
I have already posted about word work during Daily 5, but if you missed it you can click here .

The next few pics are sample of my chunk challenge unit.  It will give you an idea of how you can easily get started. The pack contains letters to parents, brainstorming recording sheets, lists of chunks and "Words to Know," a Spell Check recording sheet, a poem about spelling, Anchor charts and other things.

I also wanted to include some editable pages with this unit, so you could integrate the unit into your program.

I would love to hear how you are teaching spelling, phonics, word work, etc. in your classroom.  Let's work together to give our kiddos the best!



  1. This is a great way to differentiate. I always struggle with how to give different spelling tests with different lists. This does the trick. Thanks!
    Cialini Chat

  2. I just love your materials and have used so many in my class. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Stop by my blog First Grade and Fearless to pick it up!

  3. Thank you Nancy for all your great work. I always look forward to your "joyful" posts!
    The Caffeinated Classroom

  4. Thank you so much. You are so wonderful for offering these for free. One of our first grade teachers makes our spelling pages that include various sight words. They write them 3 times each, use them in a sentence, then study for the test. I really want to incorporate something more fun. This is great. Thanks again for sharing.

  5. You are so awesome! I have printed out so many of your materials and cannot wait to use them! I love this philosophy of teaching spelling. We are starting Words Their Way at our school and I think this just might fit in perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing!!! Marcella

  6. This is all AMAZING!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    -A struggling (but not quite as much now) second-year teacher :)

  7. Wow, thanks so much! This is exactly what I have been trying to do with my spelling, but just couldn't get it to work. I can't wait to start :) You are so giving to offer your ideas to all of us for free. Thanks again!!

  8. Hi there! I have to say that you help me so much with all of your blogs and ideas! Thank you! I have a question about the chunks. How many words do the kids choose for "their" list? Do they practice the whole list all week? On test day, do they know to write just "their" words? I really want to use this in my class but just want to make sure I understand it. Thank you!

  9. Hi Krissysue,
    Thank you for your sweet comments! After brainstorming in class, the kids take their lists home and work with parents as they choose the words they want to especially work on. During the week at school (during word work time) they will practice using the chunks in many words, but on Friday for our Spell Check, I say the chunk and one word. They will write two more. Some kids choose to think of their own three words. Sometimes I need to give little hints of words that fit our chunk for those who have forgotten what they were going to write. Then I list off the "words to know" This approach gives each learner the opportunity to work on his/her own level. I love it and have been doing it this way for many years. Let me know if you still have questions.

  10. Nancy I can't begin to thank you for your blog. I'm a first year teacher and many times overwhelmed by the learning curve from what I learned to teach verses reality. I have tried to follow the curriculum for spelling and missing the boat with about half of my students. I'm going to try and implement this for the third semester. Please keep up your blog - it is life saving! Michelle

  11. Thank you so much, I just found your blog, I love it. My son is a 1st grader in the Oregon school district. I was shocked when he never had homework and even more shocked to know they don't even do spelling! He doesn't have spelling lists or test or anything. So thank you for your site, I will have to work with him at home... and move to a state with a better system.


This blog is for fellow educators, parents, and friends! I love reading and learning from your comments! Please share your thoughts!