Structured Word Inquiry


Structured Word Inquiry

Pete Bowers, PhD

February 2015

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About the Webinar:

Dr. Pete Bowers’ work is focused on using scientific inquiry to investigate an ordered system — English spelling. The spellings of words in English often seem impossible to understand, but they actually make sense. This webinar is an opportunity to see “Structured Word Inquiry” in action.

About the Presenter:

For most of his ten years as an elementary school teacher in international schools and in Canada, Pete Bowers shared the common view that English spelling is highly irregular and full of exceptions to be memorized. In his 9th year in the classroom, he and his Grade 4 students started to make sense of the spelling system when they began working with a resource called real spelling. Instead of studying lists of words, or spelling patterns with countless exceptions, they used scientific inquiry to investigate the underlying structures and conventions that link related words with consistent spelling despite changes in pronunciation. They discovered meaning connections between words they had never considered before, deepening and expanding their vocabulary in the process. Most importantly, through investigations like this the class became a team of engaged word scientists. A surprising spelling was no longer experienced as another frustrating “irregular” word to memorize.

This revelatory classroom experience inspired Peter to begin his graduate work. His Grade 4/5 morphological intervention published in the journal Reading and Writing (Bowers & Kirby, 2010) tested the effect of this instructional approach they called “structured word inquiry” and found positive effects on vocabulary learning.

Dr. Peter Bowers’ workshops and presentations are engaging, practical sessions that model structured word inquiry classroom activities. He has been an invited presenter at IDA National conferences, and has contributed to their publications as well.

 

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