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

Phone: (613) 385-2084 


WordWorks Newsletters & Resources

Click HERE for the final Newsletter of the 2017-2018 school year. Some Highlights:

A new WordWorks document on “spelling-out-loud” and “writing-out-loud”
New research  from Jeff and Peter Bowers and link to Pete’s video for the 2nd Annual Virtual Conference for the Dyslexia Training Institute.

New “special WW publictations:

    investigation” on <special>

    Two inspiring  stories  of learning after a first SWI tutoring session

Click HERE for descriptions of how I’ve been altering my public workshops in order to embed model SWI lessons with students in these sessions. Also learn about an exciting new resource coming from Scott Mills. I also share a number of illustrations of learning through SWI from around the world. These include:

  1. a study of <multiplication> and <multiply> sparked by a middle school math teacher reading specialist Ken Eiker and his students make sense of the spelling <unity>

  2. Grade 2 students in Switzerland learn from <create> and its relatives,

  3. Mary Beth Steven’s students present their latest video by  “The Affix Squad”

Click HERE for an inspiring story of a tutor recognizing that what she has been doing is leaving her student stuck and frustrated -- and thus decides to have a go with the matrix, word sums and IPA to see what her new learning from SWI might do. The results are astonishing.

School-Wide Structured Word Inquiry Lesson Ideas/Resources

Click here for a new document with resources to help your teachers and students get started!

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

Websites with related resources to explore

  1. BulletReal Spelling

  2. BulletReal Spellers

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.


2018 Workshops

  1. BulletJan. 19-20: Mississauga & Downtown Toronto

  2. Jan 19 (Mississauga) classroom-embedded PD at Al Huda Elementary

  3. Jan 20 (Downtown Toronto) Full day workshop at Beaches Reading Clinic.

  4. BulletJan 22-23: Alberta

  5. 2-day on-site school workshop with Sangudo Community School

  6. BulletJan 24-26: Edmonton (ERLC) Jan 24 - In school (Gr. 5-9)

  7. Jan 25 - In school (Gr. 2-4)

  8. Jan 26 - Teacher workshop

  9. Participants attended just Jan 26 workshop or combined one school visit with that date.

  10. BulletApril 27-28: Melbourne

  11. Pete Bowers, Lyn Anderson & Ann Whiting! We co-lead a workshop hosted by Wesley College. This workshop is for educators with a working knowledge SWI, including working with matrices, word sums and the role of etymology and phonology in orthography

  12. BulletApril 30: Melbourne

  13. Click HERE for a poster about this classroom-embedded full-day workshop lead by Pete Bowers that is open to teachers new to SWI and those with experience. (See latest WW newsletter for more on this type of  “classroom-embedded workshop.”)

  14. BulletMay 3-5  in Bangkok

  15. Workshop with Pete Bowers & Fiona Hamilton hosted by Fiona’s A Place for Words

  16. BulletJune 18-22: SWI Nueva Institute SF Bay Area

  17. Details HERE.

  18. BulletJuly 10-13: Wolfe Island SWI Summer Course

  19. Click HERE for details about this annual course.

Must See Links

  1. BulletWord Microscope: Videos and a new guide for working with this tool guiding structured word inquiry.

This page has a variety of “how to” videos and other resources showing teachers and tutors how they can use this program to guide and record scientific inquiries into the morphological structure of words and their related word families.

The Word Microscope was built by Neil Ramsden, creator of the Word Searcher, the Mini-Matrix-Maker (how to video here) and the On-Line Suffix Checker.

  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. 
Click here for a new WordWorks YouTube video by Pete walking viewers through investigations of various words to model the process of an SWI investigation and to make sense of the interrelation of morphology and etymology.

Click here for Mary Beth Steven’s brilliant video of Grade 5 students reflecting on their year of investigating orthography through SWI.  That video is part of this post on her teacher blog.

Click here for an inspiring post from Ann Whiting as her final post for her brilliant Grade 7 Blog from Kuala Lumpur. Ann is retiring from the classroom and will soon be back home in Melbourne where she will continue to work with SWI. She will even be working with Lyn Anderson.


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

<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.

At right, see a short video of Pete Bowers discusses SWI at the 2015 Innovative Learning Conference at Nueva.

“SWI Investigations” resources on Real Spellers

THIS FORUM has videos and pdfs in which I retrace the trail of investigations that have grown out of lessons from any subject area and grade I’ve worked with.

Click HERE for a post on that forum with a Zoom video conference between Pete and Douglas Harper (Etymonline).


(Screen shot of video conference with Pete Bowers and Doug Harper.)


Structured Word Inquiry 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


Click HERE for a great new website by Scott Mills with interviews with a wide variety of language experts. The video below is an interview Scott conducted with me in which I describe my understanding of what structured word inquiry is and and its place in the research.

WordWorks Literacy Centre

Spelling it like it is!

Nothing motivates like understanding

Some Upcoming public SWI workshops

Summer Workshops: Wolfe Island & Nueva Institute

June 18-22: SWI Nueva Institute SF Bay Area

  1. 2-day Introductory Workshop: Mon. - Tues., June 18 - 19 ($500)

  2. 3-day Advanced Workshop*: Wed. - Fri., June 20 - 22 ($750)

  3. Full 5-day Workshop**: Mon, - Fri., June 18 - 22 ($1150)  For both novice or experienced participants.

Get information and register HERE

July 10-13: Wolfe Island SWI Summer Course

(between Toronto and Montreal)

Click HERE for details about this annual course. Space is limited for this workshop and 2 spots are already reserved. Email Pete to book early if you are interested. Fee $700 (+13% HST). More details to come soon!