Strategy

Word Sorts

UDL 2.2 UDL 3.2 UDL 5.3

Word Sorts are hands-on spelling and vocabulary development activities that involve students grouping a set of words into specific categories (e.g., by spelling patterns, vowel sounds, etc.). Word Sorts can be teacher or student-directed and help students focus on essential features of words, such as sounds, structure, meaning, use and parts of speech. First, a teacher introduces the list of words and students discuss and identify the highlighted skill. Next, students receive and cut apart a set of the same words to begin making discoveries and generalizations through a variety of sorting activities and games. Common Sorting Activities:
- Basic Sort: Students group words based on patterns they notice or given categories.
- Speed Sort: Individually or competing with a partner, students sort words as quickly as possible.
- Blind Sort: Working in pairs, one student reads a word aloud and the other chooses where to place it.

Ready-to-Use Resources

Decoding Tool

CVC: Word Sort Cards

A set of cards with CVC words (e.g., cat, sit) to use during word sort activities. Print and copy the cards, and consider laminating for multiple uses.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 2 pages


Decoding Tool

CVCe: Word Sort Cards

A set of cards with CVCe words (e.g., gate, bite) to use during word sort activities. Print and copy the cards, and consider laminating for multiple uses.

Grade K, 1, 2 · Reading · 2 pages


Decoding Tool

Blends: Word Sort Cards

A set of cards with words that contain consonant blends (e.g., blow, frog) to use during word sort activities. Print and copy the cards, and consider laminating for multiple uses.

Grade 1, 2 · Reading · 1 pages


Decoding Tool

Digraphs: Word Sort Cards

A set of cards with words that contain common digraphs (e.g., chip, math) to use during word sort activities. Print and copy the cards, and consider laminating for multiple uses.

Grade 1, 2 · Reading · 1 pages


Decoding Tools

CVC: Word and Picture Cards

A set of picture and matching word cards for CVC words (e.g., cat, sit). Print and copy the cards, and consider laminating for multiple uses.

Grade K, 1 · Reading · 1 pages


Decoding Tools

Word Sort Activities

A list describing several word sort activities. Use these activities to reinforce reading skills and help students recognize spelling patterns.

Grade K, 1, 2 · Reading · 1 pages


Implementation Tips

Examples of Word Sort Lists
Access a variety of Word Sort lists and templates by clicking [[http://www.carlscorner.us.com/sorts.htm|here]].
Pre-teach Sorting Activities
Designate time to introduce and model how to participate in each type of Word Sort activity (e.g., speed sort, blind sort, etc.) before having students engage in the activities independently.
Quick Daily Routines
Implement daily Wort Sort routines like the one below to strengthen students’ understanding of the target skill:
Monday -- Basic Sort: Cut out words, read, and sort
Tuesday -- Speed Sort: Sort as fast as you can and try to break your record
Wednesday -- Sightless Sort: Partner reads the words aloud as you direct sorting
Thursday -- Word Hunt: Look for words from Word Sort list in books
Friday -- Writing Sort: Partner reads the words as you write them in categories
Bonus: Write at least five Word Sort words into complete sentences
Timers
Offer timers to allow students to track how long it takes them to conduct a speed sort of their particular Word Sort cards. Students can track how long it takes them to read the words, or how long it takes to categorize them. Teachers can inspire students to improve their times by providing a recording log and encouraging them to break their own records.
Word Games
Provide enrichment after students participate in a variety of Word Sorts. Students can continue to apply their understanding of word formation and word families by playing games that allow them to build new words (e.g., simple board games, Bingo).
Graphic Organizers
Give students a graphic organizer (e.g., paper with pre-made columns or boxes for sorting) to help provide structure for tactile learners.

Examples

Differentiated Practice
To support students with varied spelling and phonics knowledge a teacher differentiates Word Sorts during a word study block. The teacher prepares multiple Word Sort lists based on students’ needs and allows students to engage in sorting activities with a partner or individually with their assigned word list. As students work in groups or independently, the teacher highlights new spelling patterns and introduces new Word Sort lists, rotating to teach a different group each day of the week.
Whole Class Warm-Up
Each week, a teacher introduces a new spelling pattern to the class. The teacher selects several words demonstrating the pattern, prints them on cards, and attaches them to the whiteboard using magnets. Two student volunteers are invited to sort the words into categories while the rest of the class provides suggestions. After the words are sorted all students record the words in their word study notebooks. Each day, the teacher adds a few more words with the same pattern to the set of from the previous day and new students are selected to sort them on the board.
Small Group Instruction
During independent writing time, a teacher pulls small groups or individual students to practice a Word Sort around a spelling pattern that the students are struggling with in their writing tasks (e.g., long-e words). The teacher provides Word Study lists with words that highlight this pattern (e.g., keep, seat, read, need, me, bee) and students group words based on the patterns they notice. The teacher then highlights the different vowel combinations that create the long-e sound and students list the words in their writing notebooks to refer to during future writing tasks.

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