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

Phone: (613) 385-2084 


WordWorks Newsletters & Resources

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.

WW Newsletter # 89: The healthy growth of SWI practice and research continues

Click HERE for this newsletter in which I reflect on the healthy growth of SWI that I see in the workshop I've been conducting this summer, and from the ever growing sources of learning from our own community. I also highlight the growing relevance of SWI in the research world, including new and on-going projects and two recent publications (Bowers & Bowers, 2017; Kirby & Bowers 2017). 

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

  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 Workshops

Updated Sept. 2017

  1. BulletSept. 18-21, 25 Saint Maur International School (near Tokyo, Japan):  On-site workshop. If you are interested in joining a 2-hour teacher session on the 20th and/or the full day teacher session on the 21st, contact Deputy Head, Annette Levy to inquire.

  2. BulletOct. 2-3: MindWare Academy: 2-day visit at this school for children with learning disabilities in Ottawa.

  3. BulletOct. 19-20: Innovative Learning Conference, Nueva School, Bay Area: Pete co-teaching a model SWI lesson in middle school with Karen Tiegel (Thurs.) SWI presentation (Fri.)

  4. BulletOct. 24: Chicago 1-day Workshop for high school teachers (Click HERE for a flyer with details.)

  5. BulletOct. 25: Pete presenting a Keynote at Everybody Reading Illinois (plus break-out session and workshop).

  6. BulletNov 15-16: On-site workshop International School of Lausanne, Switzerland

  7. BulletNov 17-18: Public workshop hosted by International School of Lausanne. See poster HERE. Register HERE.

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 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 a new post by teacher Susie PIckett sharing the “Back to School Night” SWI presentation with parents. Includes her slides and model activity.

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.)


Caught in the Spell of Words

MUST SEE new SWI blog by

Lyn Anderson and Ann Whiting

(See their upcoming workshop at right)

Go HERE now to read the inaugural post for this new venture by these two world-experts of  SWI instruction. This beautifully written post brings readers through spelling investigations sparked by literature and central ideas relevant to any grade level. The images of students at work, orthographic concepts and conventions embedded in and out of the classroom has something for novice and expert teachers of every age.

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

Jan 17 - 18 Tasmania Australia

3-day Course “Caught in the Spell of Words”

with Lyn Anderson & Ann Whiting!

Click HERE for information on this exceptional opportunity to study with two of the leading experts in SWI, Lyn Anderson (Beyond the Word) and Ann Whiting (Word Nerdery).

Don’t miss it!