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

Phone: (613) 385-2084 


News and Events

Click HERE for the first WW Newsletter of the 2016-2017 School year reflecting on the learning I saw over my year as a scholar in residence at the prestigious Nueva School near San Francisco. 

WW Special Publication: The importance of Play in Language Learning -- Alexa’s Journey by Rebecca Loveless

Click HERE for a my latest WW Newsletter sharing the joyful learning going on across the grades at The Nueva School (and beyond) from my year as an SWI visiting scholar.

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.


The WordWorks Literacy Centre

Spelling it like it is!

Nothing motivates learning like understanding.

Copyright Susan and Peter Bowers 2008

Websites with related resources to explore

  1. BulletReal Spelling

  2. BulletReal Spellers

Structured Word Inquiry:

Structured Scientific Inquiry - Generative Word Knowledge

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

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

Book now for 2016-2017

Updated Aug. 18, 2016

Pete’s next major fall trip is booked (see below). Contact Pete if you are looking for workshops (on-sight or on-line) after November.

  1. BulletSept 2-3 Melbourne, Australia

  2. Pete Bowers & Lyn Anderson Public Workshop hosted by Wesley College. (Sold Out!)

  3. Registration HERE. Flyer HERE.

  4. BulletSept 5-7, Melbourne

  5. On-site workshop with Wesley College

  6. BulletSept 12-16: Bangkok, Thailand

  7. On-site workshop at the ELC School

  8. BulletSept 21-23: Bristol, England

  9. On-site workshop for a research project.

  10. BulletOct 1 SWI Workshop @ Indiana IDA (Pete Bowers & Gina Cooke)

  11. Click HERE for a flyer with information and to register.

  12. BulletOct. 19-21: On-site workshop at the Calgary Girl’s School

  13. BulletOct. 22: University of Alberta

  14. 20 person limit. Download flyer & register HERE.

  15. BulletOct. 25-26: On-site workshop at the International School of Hamburg


  1. BulletJune 26-30: Next SWI Nueva Institute near San Francisco. Details TBA.

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 Classroom Scientific Spelling Investigations

Click here for a a Real Spellers post with a video of Grade 2 teacher at Nueva, Sam Modest, as he shares the structures he and his teaching partner, Erin Metcalf, have been developing to guide and record their SWI investigations. Their latest innovations grew from a desire to bring more focus to
their inquiry into phonology. This work was also directly sparked by the recent visit by Lyn Anderson.
Click here for another spectacular blog post from Mrs. Stevens’ Grade 5 class on presentations on twin bases they’ve been investigating.

I’m sure you will be moved by the learning they share. Perhaps it will motivate you to offer a response in the comment section. I’m sure they would respond positively!

Click here for a post on Real Spellers introducing the “two-step word sum”. This is a crucial introduction to making sense of many spellings including <noticeable>, <picnicking> and <agreeing>!


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 a video) here

Key Links

  1. BulletRelated Websites

  2. Real Spelling

  3. Real Spellers

  4. LEX

  5. 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.

The image above is an illustration of the learning through structured word inquiry at the Nueva School.

Learn more about this work in a  WW Newsletter.

New WordWorks Summer Course Cookbook by Sus Bowers!

Click here to get a preview of Sus’ amazing new cook book of recipes from our summer course. Includes images of Sus’ art and a number of free recipes!


After an amazing year as a visiting scholar at the NUEVA SCHOOL near San Francisco, Peter Bowers and family are back home on Wolfe Island, ON Canada. The excellent Rebecca Loveless has taken on the role of supporting SWI’s continued growth at Nueva -- and in the Bay Area. Pete is back in full workshop travel mode. His public workshop in Melbourne with Lyn Anderson hosted by Wesley College Sept 2-3 has been at capacity for some time. That trip continues with workshops Bangkok and the UK. More dates including Pete’s co-session with Gina Cooke for the Indiana IDA Oct. 1 and one at the University of Alberta Oct 22 (details TBA) are listed below.

Contact Pete to book on-site and on-line workshops

New “SWI Investigations” resources on Real Spellers

THIS NEW FORUM has videos and pdfs in which I retrace the trail of investigations that have grown out of any subject area and grade during my work at Nueva so far.

See THIS POST with a Zoom video conference with Douglas Harper (Etymonline) discussing words sparked by Grade 2  and Grade 4 students.


Pete in a video conference with Doug Harper of Etymonline.


SWI @ The Nueva School

SWI at the prestigious Nueva School (3 time winner of  National Blue Ribbon Award).

Emily Kolatch, Nueva’s Head of Lower School on SWI:

“I believe that work we’ve begun doing with Structured Word Inquiry is profound and revolutionary. I believe that it is relevant to educators who work in every discipline and with all age groups. I believe that it represents most accurately what we know about teaching and learning and enacts the core values held in our community.”

See Emily’s full article on SWI HERE. See all the articles on SWI in this special issue of the Nueva Journal HERE.

See more on SWI at Nueva from Pete in WW Newsletter #81.

Oct 1 SWI Workshop @ Indiana IDA

with Pete Bowers & Gina Cooke

Click HERE for a flyer with information and to register.

Oct 22 SWI Workshop @ University of Alberta

20 person limit. Download flyer & register HERE.