Further Resources

International Dyslexia Association, Upper Midwest Branch.  Recorded Webinars —  umw.dyslexiaida.org/webinars/

Scroll through the list to find these webinars with handouts:
Developing Literacy in the Content Areas Through Structured Word Study — Sue Hegland — March 2017.
Discusses value of word study focused on word families with examples showing how this can be applied to content areas. 

Making Sense of “Irregular” Words — Sue Hegland — May 2016.
Provides discussion and examples of many words often considered “irregular” and shows how they make sense.

Insights into “Sight Words” — Gina Cooke — February 2016.
Discusses and critiques traditional definitions of “sight words” and some approaches to teaching them.

Structured Word Inquiry — Pete Bowers — February 2015.
Provides a brief introduction to Structured Word Inquiry.

Websites for Investigating and Learning about Words:

This free site is authored by a single individual who has done extensive research into the etymology of tens of thousands of words. The site is meticulously researched and invaluable for understanding etymology. I use it every day (even when I am not teaching!)

Mini-matrix maker
This site, also free and created by an individual, allows you to create a matrix and print the result.
To get started, click the link under Run Mini Matrix-Maker and follow the instructions to enter your information.
Click the Update button to see your matrix.
From the matrix page, click Print (at the bottom) to print your matrix. (On a Mac, I print/save it as a pdf file.)
From the matrix page, click Matrix Edit to go back to your word sums and make changes.
I always create a word processing file where I store the word sums I use to make a matrix so I can easily update the sums and create a new matrix as my understanding changes.

Word Searcher
This site was created by the same person who designed Mini Matrix-Maker. The Word Searcher allows you to search a database of 60,000 words (or a larger database, if you wish) for all words that contain a particular string or combination of letters. The databases includes both American and British spellings of many words.

Resources for Training and Further Learning:

Real Spelling
If you want to learn about how our writing system makes sense, there is no better place to start than with Real Spelling. This is where I started, and where every other resource listed on this page started.

Real Spelling is the public name for a Cambridge University-educated orthographic linguist who has a deep and unmatched understanding of English orthography. He provides opportunities for scholarship and study about our writing system; this is not the place to go to ask about teaching, pedagogy or anything connected to the idea of “how to teach” this. But if you want to engage in deep scholarship, where the question is more important than the answer, take a look at the website at the Real Spelling link above.

If you click on the Real Spelling Gallery, you will find films about various topics related to orthography.

You can also attend a live Spellinar.  Spellinars are described here, and I think the best place to start is Latin 1.

Gina Cooke at LEX: Linguist~Educator Exchange
Gina’s vocation — her calling — is to be a linguist in education, to offer scientific rigor, clarity, and accuracy in the structure of English for anyone who aspires to study it.

She holds a Master’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative Literature and Logic from Smith College.  She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. (A.B.D.) in English Studies at Illinois State University, the oldest public university in Illinois and one of the nation’s ten largest producers of teachers.

She also has an extensive background in Orton-Gillingham – she is a certified Instructor of Teaching in the Children’s Dyslexia Centers’ Orton-Gillingham program, which is accredited by both the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC), and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). She was the founding director of the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Peoria, and has trained and certified scores of teachers and supervised the instruction of hundreds of students.

If you want to really dig deeply into how our language really works, Gina’s work will challenge and exhilarate you.

Her website is linked above, and you will find references to her work throughout this blog. I’ve studied with her extensively, and am blown away by the depth and clarity of what I learn in every LEXinar I take.

A webinar that Gina did for IDA-UMB, critiquing the traditional view of “sight words,” is listed at the top of the page.

Pete Bowers at Word Works Kingston
The term “Structured Word Inquiry” (SWI) was first used by Bowers and Kirby (2010) to describe the instruction in their instructional study that showed generative vocabulary learning. Bowers has since suggested that the phrase “scientific word investigation” may be a more accurate description of this instruction. His work with SWI has taken him to schools around the world, where he provides engaging, practical sessions that model classroom activities using scientific investigation to learn about the English writing system.

For the school year 2015 – 2016 he was hired as a “visiting scholar” by the Nueva School near San Francisco, as they continued to implement the type of word study described on this site, from preschool through high school.  The Nueva School is a unique school that is a three-time winner of the US Department of Education National Blue Ribbon Award.

Pete is a master teacher who guides teachers and students through the scientific process of investigating language. His website is linked above, and a webinar that he did for IDA-UMB is linked at the top of the page.

You can find newsletters from Pete, filled with stories and resources, at realspellers.org here.


Sound Literacy Site and Blog
Sound Literacy is a very flexible iPad app that can be used for tutoring students. The designer of the app uses it to investigate morphology, phonology and etymology, and she writes great blog posts on her blog.

Dyslexia Training Institute
The founders of the Dyslexia Training Institute provide training on the Orton-Gillingham approach as well as Structured Word Inquiry.

Rebecca Loveless
Rebecca is a Structured Word Inquiry Coach and writes a blog at her site.

Language Insights
A team of experienced teachers and trainers providing training on implementing structured word inquiry in schools.

Real Spellers provides a forum for discussing questions about real spelling.  


Blogs by Teachers Who Are Using This Understanding in Their Classrooms:

Mary Beth Steven

Skot Caldwell

Skot Caldwell archived

Ann Whiting

Lyn Anderson

Lisa Barnett


Please contact me with your thoughts, questions and ideas here.