Contact: Peter Bowers  PO Box 295 Wolfe Island, ON, Canada  K0H 2Y0

Phone: (613) 385-2084 


WordWorks Newsletters & Resources

Click HERE for this Newsletter sparked by a blog post by a pre-school teacher at the Nueva School that provides such a rich account of early SWI instruction. I add multiple stories of instruction of the interrelation of morphology, phonology and etymology in the early grades

Click HERE for this Newsletter sparked by a blog post by a pre-school teacher at the Nueva School that provides such a rich account of early SWI instruction. I add multiple stories of instruction of the interrelation of morphology, phonology and etymology in the early grades at Nueva and many other schools. I also address the research supporting this practice and invite researches who remain skeptical of this instruction to come and study with us!

Click HERE for this Newsletter sparked by a blog post by a pre-school teacher at the Nueva School that provides such a rich account of early SWI instruction. I add multiple stories of instruction of the interrelation of morphology, phonology and etymology in the early grades at Nueva and many other schools. I also address the research supporting this practice and invite researches who remain skeptical of this instruction to come and study with us!

Click HERE for an inspiring story from a tutor that illustrates the fact that far from inhibiting the learning of grapheme-phoneme correspondences, studying these conventions within the context of morphology is a necessary condition for making sense of how grapheme-phoneme correspondences work.

Videos of Pete teaching full class lessons

Click here to see videos Dan Allen posted on his blog of my lessons with students in Grade 1 - 5 classrooms and with teachers during my visit to the Zurich International School.

Click here for a document with background on each video and related resources. To help you get started with my teacher resource book, see the first video in which I teach from the first lessons.

The screen shot at right is from my visit with Dan’s students!

Revised <sign> Lesson in “Teaching How the Written Word Works”

I have posted a pdf at this link on Real Spellers with a revised <sign> lesson after learning that what I had presented as an <-ify> suffix can be analyzed further. That pdf shares the evidence that convinced me to make this change. I also use this learning experience to share a key feature about matrices and word sums.

Books printed after May 2013 already include the revised lesson. You know you have the revised version if you see on <ify> suffix on the <sign> lesson on page 8. Even if you have the revised version, I recommend you download this pdf to gain from the explanation that helped me understand why this revision was needed.

Copyright Susan and Peter Bowers 2008

Structured Word Inquiry:

(Scientific Word Investigation)

“Word Scientists” look for the deepest word structures that make sense of the greatest number of words.

Click HERE for background on SWI.

Marcia Henry on WordWorks:

“Pete & Sus Bowers are great ‘wordsters’ who provide teachers with an in-depth understanding of the English language.  Teachers can gain so much practical knowledge  from their teacher resource book, "Teaching How the Written Word Works" and their impressive and informative online WordWorks newsletter.  I'd love to attend one of their workshops!  Observing classrooms of teachers who have worked closely with WordWorks was a highlight of my visit to Kingston. Students were so involved and fascinated by investigating words. How fortunate they are to have wordsmiths like Sean Lonergan and Skot Caldwell as their teachers!”

Marcia Henry is past president of The International Dyslexia Association

and former director of the Center for Educational Research on Dyslexia at San Jose State University


sign + al → signal

re + sign → resign

de + sign + ate → designate

sign + ate/ + ure → signature

do + es → does

do + ne → done

do + ing → doing

go + es → goes

go + ne → gone

go + ing → going

Making sense of how words work by investigating morphology, etymology and phonology.

English base <sign> from Latin root signum

"mark, token, indication, symbol”

Applying the Principle of Backwards Design from UbD to Structured Word Inquiry

Click here for a WordWorks article on developing

enduring understandings of how the written word works.

"This article by Pete Bowers makes some interesting connections between UbD, Real Spelling and the development of critical thinking skills in students."

Bill and Ochan Powell - Education Across Frontiers


Resources for Spelling-Out and Writing-Out Word Structure with Word Sums

REVISED (May 25, 2018)

  1. BulletA free WW resource: “Spelling-Out Word Structure”

  2. Click here for information on spelling-out word sums including a free pdf guide for teachers who want to use this process for learning, instruction and assessment.

  3. BulletSpelling-Out Word Structure: Targeting Central Concepts, Assessment & Instruction

See a new article and video addressing these ideas all building on a practical lesson growing from a Grade 1 student’s question, “Why is their an <h> in school? You don’t hear it.”

Click here for a video of an on-line Skype session addressing this topic with Grade 2 teachers and an article addressing how this topic links to the UbD.


Upcoming 2019 Workshops

  1. BulletJune 17- 21: San Francisco

  2. Annual SWI Nueva Institute!

  3. Three options: 2-day intro, 3-day advanced, or full 5-day workshop

  4. Click HERE for details

  5. BulletJune 24-25: Fort Vermilion School Division (north of Edmonton) 2-day teacher workshop.

  6. BulletJuly 9-12: Melbourne Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) Annual Conference

  7. Pete is presenting a Keynote Address at the main annual literacy conference in Australia. Other presenters on SWI topics include: Lyn Anderson & Ann Whiting (Caught in the Spell of Words) Fiona Hamilton (WordTorque) and Julie Shepherd.

  8. BulletJuly 13: Melbourne -- full day SWI workshop ALEA Post-Conference led by Pete. Special guests Lyn Anderson & Ann Whiting (Caught in the Spell of Words) and Fiona Hamilton (WordTorque).

  9. BulletJuly 30 - Aug 2: 12th Annual Wolfe Island Summer Course!

  10. The course is filling up with amazing folks. Click HERE for information.

  11. BulletOct 17-18: San Francisco -- Pete presenting at the Innovative Learning Conference

  12. BulletOct 24: Chicago -- Everyone Reading Illinois (ERI) Conference

  13. Pete runs a 3-hour SWI workshop

  14. BulletNov 15-16: Switzerland public workshop  hosted by Zurich International School (Details being confirmed now -- Save the Date!)

2020 Workshops

  1. BulletJanuary 16 -17: Winnipeg

  2. Details TBA

  3. BulletJanuary 22 -23: Hobart, Australia

  4. Details TBA

  5. BulletMarch 5-6-7: Bangkok

  6. With Fiona Hamilton (WordTorque) Details TBA

  7. BulletMarch 11-12-13: Hong Kong

  8. On-site workshop with Hong Kong International School (HKIS)

  9. Details TBA

  10. BulletMarch 14-15: Hong Kong

  11. Keynote at 12th Annual Literacy Institute Confernece hosted by HKIS.

Host a workshop?

See this document on possible models, including hosting classroom-embedded workshops. Also see this WW Newsletter for more on this topic.

Note: If you see that I am giving a workshop at a location near you, feel free to contact me to see if I can add a visit to your school on the same trip.

I also do on-line workshops & model lessons via video conference all the time.

Email Pete or call 613 385 2084

Must See Links

  1. BulletA New Hub for Research Related to SWI: Jeff Bowers’ Blog

Click HERE to go to a new blog by my brother Jeff Bowers, a cognitive scientist from the University of Bristol. We have written a number of recent articles related to SWI. You can find that work in this blog (and at the bottom of my About WordWorks page).

More importantly, Jeff does a great job of explaining the context of this research in his blog posts. I highly recommend exploring this page often, and adding your comments to the discussion!

  1. Bullet Scientific Word Investigations in the Classroom & Beyond

Click here for the inaugural post for the new SWI based blog “Caught in the Spell of Words” by the new team of long-time orthographic experts Lyn Anderson and Ann Whiting. This is a brilliant post for both teachers new to SWI wondering about how to get started and teachers with much experience with SWI looking to refine their orthographic understanding and instructional practice. Glorious.
Click here for a video of Nueva pre-school teacher Carolee Fucigna as they create a morphological web on the base <rain>. See how straight froward it is to investigate morphological families with readers and non-readers. 
How can I start?

Click here for a post from Rebecca Loveless on “Word Bag Excitement” that offers teachers a sense of this excellent activity for studying word families modeled on Lyn Anderson’s work. This is a great reference for jumping in. Rebecca’s site has many more posts to explore too.

Click here for Mary Beth Steven’s brilliant recent post “Outer Beauty Attracts, but Inner Beauty Captivates.” This is a wonderful way to compare studying real “word families” compared to words that simply rhyme. Explore her whole blog!

Click here for an inspiring post, “Comprehending Spelling” from Sue Hegland’s excellent blog, “Learning About Spelling”. This is a short, accessible and eloquent case for why we should do the obvious -- teach our written word works.


Tools for making matrices

Free trial versions of matrix making software for morphological analysis available for download

Word Microscope: Tutorial Video & User’s Guide

Click here for a “User’s Guide” for working with this computer tool including links to tutorial films, complementary resources and links to related research. 

Video introducing the new “Mini Matrix Maker”

Watch this video to see how teachers and students can easily create matrices from word sums on Mac or PC computers with Neil Ramsden’s “Mini Matrix Maker”.


About WordWorks

See an introduction to WordWorks and Structured Word Inquiry

(including videos) here

Key Links

  1. BulletRelated Websites

  2. Real Spelling

  3. Real Spellers

  4. Beyond the Word     (Lyn Anderson, AUS)

  5. LEX (Gina Cooke)

  6. Rebecca Loveless

  7. Mary Beth Stevens

  8. Language Innerviews (Scott Mills)

  9. Language Insights

  10. Word Torque (Fiona Hamilton, Bangkok)

  11. Learning About Spelling (Sue Hegland)

  12. Sound Literacy

  13. WW on YouTube

<s> /s/

E.g., sign, signal, assign

<s> /z/

E.g., design, resign,

does, goes

Explore Lyn Anderson’s excellent blog with illustrations and resources about structured word inquiry for all ages at this link .

Lyn has been developing her understanding and practice in this area for over a decade.  Her lessons and ideas  for morphological instruction from the start are just exceptional.

Structured Word Inquiry at

The Nueva School

See the video above for a short video with Pete discussing SWI at the Nueva School.

Click HERE to see the new page on the Nueva School website describing how Structured Word Inquiry has transformed the instruction at this top US private school

WordWorks Literacy Centre

Spelling it like it is!

Nothing motivates like understanding

Two On-line, real-time SWI Courses with Pete in September

Click HERE for a pdf of the document (at right) describing these  upcoming on-line courses.

These on-line courses have proven to be extremely effective. They begin by someone emailing me to organize dates, times and a specific focus (if they have one). Ideally, they find 2-3 others who can work at the same time.

People who could not take the current course have already organized two new courses in September. One is timed to suit people in North American time zones. The other is timed for people in Asia and that general region.

This document has details on the course and registration.

Recent publications related to SWI

Click HERE for the document (at right) with information and links about these three recent publications related SWI and the research.

  1. BulletWashington Post article (Bowers & Bowers, 2019)

  2. BulletA chapter in the latest publication by the Primary English Teaching association of Australia (PETAA)  (Anderson, Whiting, Bowers & Venable, 2019)

  3. BulletAn article in the prestigious psychology journal Current Directions in Psychological Science (Bowers & Bowers, 2018)

Images from a joyful, busy summer with WW

Click HERE for a document with links to the above workshop/conferences

In addition to the dates/locations listed above, that document has a full list of all of my booked workshops into 2020.

Look for visits to:

Winnipeg, Australia, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Vancouver, & Ohio

Email Pete if you are interested in booking a workshop in connection to any of those trips.


6th Annual SWI Nueva Institute June 17- 21

Over 50 participants got to study with Pete and Nueva teacher presenters including Carolee Fucigna, Karen Tiegel Rebecca Loveless at this rich annual event.

July 9-12: Melbourne Australian Literacy Educators Association (ALEA) Annual Conference

Organizer Julie Shepherd with Sus & Pete

Educators discuss their orthographic investigations at  my post-conference session on July 13

Pete during opening plenary session

July 30 - Aug 2: 12th Annual Wolfe Island Summer Course

2019 Summer Course Class Photo

“Orthography fortified by gastronomy”

Sus’ meals offer one of the richest learning contexts of the week.

Our 11-year-old co-learner leads the groups learning in a discussion  with the Old Grouch

Fiona, Pete, Julie, Lyn & Ann

Most - but not all of the presenters on SWI at this year’s con + fer + ence!

Late night orthographic conversations spill over into the General Wolfe apartments

  1. BulletSan Francisco Oct. 17-18

  2. BulletChicago: Oct 24

  3. BulletZurich: Nov 15-16

  1. BulletNew Jersey: Aug 29

  2. BulletCalgary: Oct 8

  3. BulletEdmonton: Oct 9 and/or 10

Upcoming Public Workshops open for registration!

2-Day SWI Workshop in Zurich

Nov 15-16

The Zurich International School is hosting a 2-day workshop including “classroom-embedded” sessions in which participants observe as Pete teaches SWI lessons based on units of study.

A growing number of educators in Switzerland and Europe in general are working with SWI. Take advantage of this opportunity to study with Pete and educators from the region diving into this work.

  1. Click HERE for a flyer with info.

  2. Email Pete to reserve your spot!


1- or 2-Day SWI Workshop in Toronto Sept 22 or 22-23

The Bishop Strathcan School is hosting this 1- or 2-day workshop.  Sunday (22nd) is a full day session for teachers. Teachers can also attend on Monday (23rd) for the “classroom-embedded session” where they can observe me teach three classroom lessons and take part in debriefings.

  1. Click HERE for a flyer with info.

  2. Email Pete to reserve your spot!