Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Word Spree: What and Why

One of the first writing assignments I have my students do at the beginning of the school year is something called a word spree.  A word spree is a short, 10-minute assessment that checks students' abilities to recall words they already know by heart. . . or in more professional terms. . . how many words they can control with automaticity.  (Automaticity comes from the word automatic and refers to the ability to do things without occupying the mind, without thinking about them.)  To do a word spree, all you need is a blank piece of paper and something to write with.

How To Do A Word Spree

  1. Look around the room.  Cover any words you have hanging on the walls, so the children cannot copy them.  
  2. Depending on the needs of your class the students can use notebook paper, handwriting paper, blank copy paper, etc.  They can also use empty pages in their writing notebooks.
  3. Have the students put their names and date on the top of their paper.
  4. On your mark... get set... go!  Give the students 10 minutes to fill their pages with as many words as they can think of.  They can use sight words, names of friends and family, rhyming words, etc.  Do not provide any assistance other than to remind them about the different types of words they can use.
  5. Some students like to read their word sprees to the class when they are done.  Call on any volunteers to share their lists.  Praise their attempts.  Do not draw attention to any words they may have misspelled.
  6. Optional step: After the volunteers have read their lists to the class, you may give the class an extra five minutes to write down more words.
  7. Collect the word sprees when everyone is done and file them away for the end of the school year.  You don't need to correct them unless you really want to.
  8.  At the end of the school year have the students complete another word spree.  Hand back their original word sprees and have them compare what they thought they knew at the beginning of the year to what they know now.  Be prepared for their smiles and giggles!
Word Spree

How Can Word Sprees Help Me?

A lot of information can be gathered by looking over your students' word spree, should you decide to correct them.  For example, you can learn about a student's handwriting skills, vocabulary word usage, awareness of phonetic patterns, ability to rhyme, etc.  These word sprees can also be used to create spelling groups and to determine which spelling words to add to spelling lists.

Word sprees can be used with or as a replacement to baseline spelling assessments.  Do you use any sort of baseline spelling assessment with your class?  If so, what do you use that works well for you?  Feel free to tell us about it in the comments below!

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