TOP TEN TIPS for getting started with SWR

6.  Know what you need to read and what can wait.

Put aside the Wise Guide for now; you’ll start in Spell to Write and Read.

Don’t try to read the entire SWR book! Many people get bogged down thinking they have to read the entire book before starting to teach their students. Doing this will only overwhelm you. The SWR book is designed for you to read a little and then practice that. Read a little more and then do that. This models the way we will teach it to our students. Reading the entire book is like trying to read the dictionary all at once before you can start speaking English.

How much you need to read at the beginning will depend entirely on the age of your students:

  • Preschool or Kindergarten: Steps 1-6
  • Beginning reader in 1st or 2nd grades: Steps 1-12
  • Advanced student 2nd grade or above: Steps 1-12

Note:  2nd graders can benefit from using the Black Learning Log, but they may not complete all of an assigned Reference Page. The SWR Lesson Plans will help guide you through this.

Understand how and what to read.

The SWR book is arranged sequentially but also so that all the instructions pertaining to a topic are in one place. This is where knowing your student’s level is imperative. If you’re working with a beginning reader, you can ignore everything that addresses an advanced student. Just skip it! Don’t try to read or understand everything at once. Your learning will grow in increments just like that of your students! When you’re ready to deal with a concept at a deeper level, you’ll know right where to come back later. If you’re starting with both levels or with an advanced student only, then you’ll want to read the sections pertaining to both levels.

Read, don’t skim! We live in a quick-fix society. Everything has to be fast, or we move on to the next and newest thing. We’re losing the art of contemplation and deeper thought. SWR is loaded with amazing instruction and tips. Do you want to confuse yourself? Then merely skim through it. Remember, you’re not reading the whole book, so take some time to focus on carefully reading one step at a time.

Start your own Master Teacher’s Log when you get to SWR Step #8.

See Tip 7 in this series for more on this.

Explore important resources.

Tucked in the middle and in the back of the book are some valuable pages. Some of these won’t make sense until you start building your Master Teacher’s Log and working through the Wise Lists. Just glance over them and put a post-it on these pages so you don’t forget that they’re in the book.

  • an overview of how to schedule SWR from Kindergarten-Fifth Grade, including review of Wise Lists, suggested pacing for teaching lists, and placement tips (pp 64-65)
  • an overview of the 12 different reasons for “Extra Attention Think to Spell” words (pp 78-89)
  • sample lesson plans for a student starting at List A (pp 225-226) and at List M (pg 227)
  • the key elements you want to be sure you’re including in your lesson plans (pg 228)
  • a one-page overview of all the SWR markings which reinforce spelling rules (pg 220)
  • a list of the phonograms that matches the order of presentation on the Phonogram CD (pg 221)
  • a list of the 29 spelling rules (pg 222)
  • samples of the Reference pages, as they would look at the end of the year for two different students using the Primary (pp 207-211) and Black Learning Logs (pp 207, 212-219)


Next Tip 7