Further Resources

Welcome! If you’ve read my new book Beneath the Surface of Words and have come here looking for more information, be aware that I haven’t updated this page yet. What’s here is accurate, but there is more to come. I’ll send out a notification once I get it updated, so follow this site if you’d like to receive notification.

Webinars through the International Dyslexia Association, Upper Midwest Branch.

Click title of any webinar to go to a page with the recorded webinar and link to handouts.

Discovering the Sense in English Spelling -Timothy Houge, PhD and Sue Hegland – Dec 2017
An overview of the some of the foundational patterns in our completely coherent English writing system, along with examples from dyslexic and non-dyslexic student work.

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.

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 Doug Harper 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 Neil Ramsden, 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 free site was also created by Neil Ramsden. 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:

Spellinars with 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 Spellinars with Real Spelling link above.

There is a contact email there to sign up for a Spellinar.  I think the best place to start is with Latin 1.

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 by clicking here.

Dyslexia Training Institute
Kelli Sandman-Hurley and Tracy Block-Zaretsky, 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 who also does training in Chancery Script and SWI. She also writes a wonderful blog at her site.

Language Insights
A team of experienced teachers and trainers providing training on implementing SWI 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

Lisa Barnett

Skot Caldwell

Skot Caldwell archived

Ann Whiting archived

Lyn Anderson archived

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