1. Look for what students use but confuse: use Vygotsky's ZPD when planning your word study instruction. By analyzing what students use but confuse, you can better plan lessons that will be more effective for your students' learning.
2. A step backwards is a step forwards: once you have figured out where your are, take a step back and build a firm foundation. When setting up your word sorts, use a new concept with an old one for contrast. It is important that students experience success when first starting word studies,m or else they will get frustrated and disillusioned.
3. Use words students can read: this is obvious friends. If your students can't read the words, how can you expect them to sort them? Get words from books that students are reading in class that will be familiar to them.
4. Compare words "that do" with words "that don't": contrasts are essential to students' building of categories. Use student errors to see which contrasts will help them the most. ex: words that double the consonant letter before adding ing (hugging) vs words that do not double (reading).
5. Sort by sound and sight: use pictures and word sorts. Students examine words by how they sound and how they are spelled. both sound and visual pattern are integrated into students' orthographic knowledge.
6. Begin with obvious contrasts: choose very distinctive contrasts to make it easier for students to sort.
7. Don't hide exceptions: students will find these exceptions and you must explain them.Many exceptions may form their own pattern that you can help them learn.
8. Avoid rules: rules have many exceptions and are hard for children to grasp. also, they are disheartening to students because the exceptions will make them feel like they did something wrong. let students discover patterns and make generalizations themselves.
9. Work for automaticity: students need to be able to do sorts automatically and efficiently.
10. Return to meaningful texts: after sorting, let students go back to books they are reading and find other words that work in their sort. this makes it more personal and fun for them.