Sign up for our email list!

Find out more about new products & seminars, and get a discount for your first order.
First Name
Last Name
Zip Code
Email address


Tools in Your Books – Part 2

Posted by:

Did you miss Part 1 in the Tools in Your Books series? Read it now.

There are some pages in your Spell to Write and Read text that you might have overlooked. Let’s examine these today.

“Think-to-Spell” Explained

Even though the explanation for Think-to-Spell is within Step #12, I have my seminar students put a tab on this part because it’s so important.

There are twelve situations in which we need to give “Extra Attention” to some words that just don’t sound like they’re spelled. In fact, if we try to teach spelling solely on the way words sound, we’ll run into problems pretty quickly. How do we help our students lock onto the spelling of words when our normal speech is so different? Think-to-spell to the rescue!

To understand this amazingly helpful tool, you’ll need to read pp. 78-89 several times. Even then, you’ll need to come back and digest it again. Put a tab on or bookmark in this part of your book and read it carefully. Our handy SWR Bookmark includes all twelve of these situations on one side and the spelling dictation pattern on the other side.

Watch one of our Endorsed Trainers, Heidi Thomas, on our Endorsed SWR YouTube channel. She uses this tool when dictating spelling words to her students.

Advanced Phonograms

Next, let’s look at SWR Step #38 Teach Advanced Phonograms. Many times I’m asked, “You mean there are ADVANCED phonograms?” Yes, they’re outlined for you in Step #38.

You will start teaching these at List N-2, so even your 2nd grade student will start learning them.

Look at the Preliminaries section of each Wise List (top left of each two-page spread in the Wise Guide) for when to introduce which one.

Although the advanced phonogram cards are not required, having them is very helpful so that you can get regular review. Once I teach an advanced phonogram, I like to include that card in the “learned” stack of phonogram cards for that student or group of students, and then we get consistent review for it.

Senate Hearing Speech

Why is SWR so effective for teaching literacy? Wanda was asked to make a presentation in 2001 before the Oregon Senate on the issue of Literacy. It is very helpful for understanding why SWR stands out as a program with results and what to avoid when looking for a phonics program.

You can find this speech in Appendix A of your SWR book. Invite inquiring friends and relatives to read this speech in order to understand what you’re working to accomplish as you pursue a solid foundation in Language Arts with your students. Since you don’t want to part with your copy of SWR, direct them to a digital copy on our web site.

Diagnostic Tests

If you’ve worked your way through the first 11 steps in SWR and are teaching a student with some spelling skills, then you’re familiar with the Diagnostic Test in Appendix B.

You can download a digital version of the diagnostic test form, instructions, and the first diagnostic test (1 of 8) from our web site. This is especially helpful for those wanting to test their students and determine placement in the Wise Lists before even getting their Core Teacher’s Kit.

Another gem hidden on our web site is a one-page informational handout called “Understanding the Diagnostic Test” which discusses how the results of this test play a role in assessing your student’s progress throughout the year. You can download it from the linked page as well.

Sample Reference Pages

What are the Reference Pages in each Learning Log, and what should they look like after you’ve been working through the year with SWR? Take a look at Appendix C in the back of your SWR book.

Wanda has included sample pages for both the Primary (pp. 208-211) and Black Learning Logs (pp. 212-219) there for you. Keep in mind that these are just samples, and your logs will very likely look different because of where you start in the Wise List and the particular lists you cover that year. You never want to teach from these sample pages. Instead, they give you guidance for working on these pages.

The samples for the Black Learning Log are from the “build-from-scratch” version, not from the formatted log which we HIGHLY recommend. Adapting to the formatted version is not difficult.

Also, there are several pages that are included in the formatted Black Log that are not covered in SWR. You can download a copy of the Answer Key for these extra gems on our web site.

Markings Explained

SWR uses a special marking system to help the student analyze the spelling words and to remind him of the rules and phonograms being used in them. They’re a lot of fun, and yes, YOUR student can easily learn how to mark the words as you teach the Wise Lists. In fact, so can you!

Have you ever wanted to see an overview of the markings and why and when they’re used? Well, Wanda thought of that, too! See Appendix D on SWR p. 220 for a one-page overview of the markings.

Spelling Rules and Phonograms

On the topic of one-page overviews, you’ll find a list of all 70 phonograms and all 29 spelling rules on SWR pp. 221-222. These pages are so important, they’re also found on Wise Guide pp. 239-240 AND on a two-sided page in your Spelling Rule Cards packet. I always keep a laminated version of the rule card page with me while I teach so I can quickly look at a rule or a tip about the phonograms.

Common Prefixes and Suffixes

Your SWR Appendix D also includes two great lists: Common Prefixes on p. 223 and Common Suffixes on p. 224.

Did you know there are Reference Pages in the Black Learning Log where you can record words you’re learning that use these word parts? Download the Black Learning Log Answer Key for more help on building these extra pages.

Sample Lesson Plans

Your SWR Appendix E includes Sample Lesson Plans for a Primary student just starting SWR at List A (pp. 225-226) and for an Advanced Student starting at List M (p. 227).

Note: These sample plans are just an outline for how to schedule your lessons and are not to be confused with the SWR Lesson Plans due to be released soon.

Key Elements to a Lesson

Also included is a one-page overview of the Key Elements you want to include when planning your SWR lessons (p. 228). For a more detailed explanation of this page, see our blog post called, “Ten Tips for Lesson Planning with SWR.”

Diagnostic Spelling Scale Graph & Cursive Tips

Appendix E contains two more pages you’ll want to examine.

On p. 229 (not numbered) is a SWR Diagnostic Spelling Scale Graph that you can copy (or download here) and use to keep track of your student’s diagnostic test scores. When I use this for my students, I mark the actual score with one color pencil and the “mastery” or “tension of learning” level (see SWR p. 198) with another color. Over the course of eight tests I can see that student’s progress.

On p. 230 you’ll find a guide to help you when teaching cursive letters.

Note: Older versions of the SWR book will not have these two pages.

Dictation Dialogue

Have you seen the inside back cover of your SWR book? You have a one-page color overview of the dictation process explained in Step #12.

The teacher’s column of this page is on one side of our handy SWR Bookmark.

Read Part 3 in the Tools in Your Books series.


  Related Posts
  • No related posts found.

Signup for our email list!

Find out more about new products & seminars, and get a discount on your first order.
First Name
Last Name
Zip Code
Email address
Secure and Spam Free