This session has been completed.

Structured Word Inquiry (SWI): Introductory Workshop

Facilitator(s): Peter Bowers
Date:October 09, 2019
Time:9:00 am – 3:30 pm
(includes lunch, which is not prepared in a nut/gluten-free environment)
Location: Edmonton (ERLC Office at Elmwood School)
Room 17/18, 16325 - 83 Avenue
Google Map
Course code: 20-LI-037

Target Audience

Teachers (Grades K to 9); Instructional Coaches; District Leaders/Consultants

Also Recommended For

School-based Administrators

About this learning opportunity

Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is an approach that allows teachers and students to study the English spelling system using a combination of etymology, word structure, word relatives and graphemes.  This approach is different than focusing on phonetics to teach spelling. Instead, the emphasis is on connecting word origins to word meaning that can provide clues to help students understand spelling rules and reading for meaning.

This introductory workshop is intended for teachers of any grade and ability. This  introductory session is ideal for teachers without prior knowledge of SWI, or for those who may benefit from a refresher course for SWI foundational knowledge. This session includes an introduction to:

  • Basic underlying principles of how the structure English spelling system
  • The “4 Questions of Structured Word Inquiry” to guide spelling investigations at any grade level and to understand the interrelation of morphology, etymology and phonology that drives English spelling

This hands-on workshop will use lessons Dr. Bowers regularly uses in K to 12 classrooms to help teachers get started in investigating English spelling in their own teaching contexts. Participants can learn how to draw concepts and terms from content areas from and use SWI lessons as leverage for students to learn content area vocabulary, to decode and spell words in any grade,  and to deepen their understanding of literacy strategies to use during reading.

This session addresses the LQS competency #2: Modeling Commitment to Professional Learning

This session addresses the TQS competencies

  • #2: Engaging in Career-Long Learning
  • #3: Demonstrating a Professional Body of Knowledge

This learning opportunity is being subsidized through funding from Alberta Education.

About the facilitator(s)

Dr. Peter Bowers is the founder of WordWorks Literacy Centre and a passionate educator/researcher from Wolfe Island in Ontario, Canada. Near the end of his 9th year as a classroom teacher, he attended a 45 minute workshop by Real Spelling. From that point on, he and his Grade 4 students became word scientists who rejoiced in making sense of making sense of the spelling-meaning connections of words. After seeing spelling transform from a frustratingly irregular system students had to memorize into a fascinating domain of scientific inquiry, Pete started his graduate work at the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario to test the effect of this instruction. He has earned his PhD and since published a meta-analysis of research (Bowers, Kirby, & Deacon, 2010) which shows that teaching about the morphological structure of English spelling benefits elementary students and even more noteworthy -- counter to decades of untested assumptions -- this instruction brings the largest benefits to younger and less able students. Since 2006, through the WordWorks Literacy Centre, Peter has worked with teachers and students around the globe to help them bring scientific inquiry about the written word, also known as “structured word inquiry” (SWI) (Bowers, & Kirby, 2010) to K - 12 classrooms. The question of morphological instruction and specifically SWI, has become a particularly focused question in current research sparked by articles in major journals Bowers & Bowers (2017, 2018), chapters (Kirby & Bowers, 2017, 2018) and even a recent article in the Washington Post (Bowers & Bowers, 2019). (Click HERE for information and links to some of this research.) In addition to work with schools and districts around the US, Canada and the world, he has been invited to present keynotes prestigious conferences around the world including the main annual educational conference in Australia (ALEA, 2019) and the annual Literacy Conference hosted by the Hong Kong International School (2020).

Twitter: @borneo_pete