Latest news:

Bonnie Campbell Hill Award Recipients

2015 WA State Literacy Leader Award
Click here to download the flyer.
Click here to download the application form.

2015 National Teacher Leader Award
Click here to download the flyer.
Click here
to download the application form.

Citation: Brand, Max. (2004). Word Savvy: Integrating Vocabulary, Spelling, and Word Study, Grades 3-6. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Title: Word Savvy: Integrating Vocabulary, Spelling, and Word Study, Grades 3-6
Year: 2004
Publisher: Stenhouse
City: Portland, ME
Medium: Book
Author(s): Brand, Max
Grades: Third Grade to Sixth Grade
Category: Teaching Spelling Teaching Vocabulary Introducing Word Study Word Study
Annotation: “I absolutely hate spelling tests. They pour stress all over me” (p. 16). This is a quote from one of Max Brand’s students at the beginning of the year as he surveys their understandings and feelings about word study. If you are an intermediate teacher, you don’t need a word study program; you just need to buy and study Word Savvy. Max’s goal over the course of the year is “for students to become word-savvy—to develop an understanding of how words work within the context of reading and writing, and to become excited about words as they learn to manipulate them in playful ways” (p. 4). He accomplishes this goal with a daily word study block of 15 minutes, as well as word study integrated throughout the rest of the day, covering all the areas of word knowledge -- decoding, vocabulary, and spelling. Even though he plans for this instruction, Max reminds us that we need to be responsive to our students’ needs as determined by our ongoing assessment.

During the first weeks of school, Max develops this “word-savvy” in his students by establishing some routines, teaching some quick lessons, and beginning the use of word study notebooks. He has learned that the greatest opportunities in those weeks occurred in a short word study block, during the daily read alouds, and in content area learning time. On pages 27- 35, he shares an overview of a six-week plan for each of these instructional times, along with activities, goals, and suggested read alouds and content area books. You will appreciate the detailed explanation in Chapter Three of the first four weeks of school, ranging from name explorations, to word sorts, along with five explicit plans for a few of the lessons.

In the next four chapters, Max addresses the use of word walls and covers the specific areas of spelling, general vocabulary instruction and content area vocabulary. Within each of these chapters, he shares some rationale and overview of the specific topics and provides detailed lesson plans. In Chapter Eight, Max paints a picture of what instruction would look like in which word study is integrated throughout the day. By following his road map, you will soon begin to recognize a different attitude in your students about word study and eventually notice an increase in their proficiency and strategic approach to spelling, vocabulary, and decoding.

In chapter six of "Word Savvy" Max Brand describes how he teaches vocabulary in content area instruction in fun and engaging ways. Many of the words that students will need to understand in math, science, and social studies often begin with a discovery phase in Max’s intermediate classroom. His students read texts that build their background knowledge and record unknown words in their word study notebooks. Their conversations about vocabulary are interwoven with their content area discussions and discoveries. Max uses his read alouds, graphic organizers, and conversation to provide opportunities for students to use their new vocabulary in meaningful contexts. In the following chapter, he shows how he builds students’ interest in words through though the use of word walls and anchor charts for high-frequency words, interesting words, and content area vocabulary. He writes, “through the variety of words and writing on the wall, the students had developed into a community of learners who were interested in words” (p. 150).