Whether that looks like spelling words, phonemic awareness or something else isn't the point. Word Work can differ from classroom to classroom and still be effective. There isn't one activity that is the perfect way. I also know, there's not a single teacher out there who plans activities not caring if students remember the learning long-term.
So knowing we care deeply about our students' long-term retention, how do we increase the odds of our students remembering what they practice in Word Work? From my experience, here's what I know works really well.
Make it sensory. The more senses we use the better the memory is embedded.
Make it fun. Studies show that fun, silly and/or surprising things wake the brain up and draw attention to what's right in front of us.
Make it active. Movement [appropriate to the task] helps people of all ages get new learning to stick in their long-term memory.
Alrighty... here's my [scary] advice. Are you ready?! DITCH THE WORKSHEETS and try something new. Seriously. Think about what you're really trying to accomplish with word work and design activities around those objectives, not around adding a grade to a grade book.
I don't have a need to grade every bit of practice my students do and neither do you. Just let go of the worksheets and allow students to practice without pressure. Do a quiz periodically, or better yet, check for retention where it really matters... in their writing.
Need a few ideas? Grab my list of worksheet free, low prep Word Work Activities here. It's FREE!
Got some great activities? Please share. What are your students' favorite word work activities?