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

Phone: (613) 385-2084 


WordWorks Newsletters & Resources

Click HERE for this newsletter sharing stories from Pete’s workshops in the Bay Area and L.A. -- and to downoad new lessons about investigating <media>, <advertising> in the context of studying social justice. Also see a new video modeling an investigation of the words <immigrant> and <immigrate>.

WW Newsletter #84: How to “integrate” SWI? and more

Click HERE for this newsletter pointing to a number of resources and SWI articles -- but in particular a new WW article addressing the common question of how one can “integrate” SWI with other practices..

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. Related_Websites.html
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.

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 Jan. 5 2017


  1. BulletJan 12: On-line workshop with an Edmonton public school

  2. BulletJan. 23-24: Public SWI workshop hosted by Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. Information & Register HERE.

  3. BulletJan 25-26: On-site workshop at the Johnny Bright public school, Edmonton

  4. BulletJan 27: On-site workshop at Evergreen public school, Calgary.

  5. BulletFeb 6: On-site workshop at the Burke’s School, SF

  6. BulletFeb 7: On-site workshop at Nueva School (Lower School), Bay Area

  7. BulletFeb 8-10: On-site workshop at Athena Academy (School for dyslexics), Palo Alto, CA.

  8. Bullet***Feb 11: Part 1 PUBLIC SWI WORKSHOP in Palo Alto hosted by Athena Academy for novices and experts. Flyer HERE. Register HERE.

  9. BulletFeb 13: On-site workshop at Nueva School (Middle School), Bay Area

  10. BulletFeb 14: On-site workshop at San Francisco Friends School, SF.

  11. BulletFeb 15-17: On-site workshop at San Francisco Day School, SF.

  12. Bullet***Feb 18: Part 2 PUBLIC SWI WORKSHOP in Palo Alto hosted by Athena Academy for novices who have taken Part 1 and experts. Flyer HERE. Register HERE.

  13. BulletFeb 21-22: On-site workshop with Wildwood School, LA

  14. BulletApril 28-29: Public workshop with Pete Bowers & Lyn Anderson hosted by Wesley College, Melbourne, Australia. Details TBA.

  15. BulletJune 26-30: SWI Nueva Institute near San Francisco. Information and registration HERE.

  16. BulletJuly 18-21: First 4-day WW SWI Summer Course on Wolfe Island. This year to be hosted at Pete and Sus’ home. Limit 10 people. Email Pete for details.

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 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 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 post on Real Spellers from Pete responding to a question about the “spelling of <said>”.

Click here for Mary Beth Steven’s brilliant post “Where to begin when there is so much to say? This is such a rich, pithy response to the ever-present question “Where do I start?” Also read the posts that follow. These Grade 5 students in a public school will take you by the hand on a glorious journey.

Click here for yet another amazing post from Ann Whiting’s Grade 7 blog that offers us the standard of how SWI can be leveraged as a tool for learning about the content are of study. I’m always inspired by the learning going on in this humanities class.


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.

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.

Pete discussing structured word inquiry for the Innovative Learning Conference at the Nueva School. (Click HERE if video above is not working.)

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.

Click HERE for the post on that forum with a Zoom video conference between Pete and Douglas Harper (Etymonline).  Learn along with us as we discuss the nature of the fascinating, surprising and meaningful etymological relationships between words like <despicable>, <spice>, <species>, <special> and others words sparked by Grade 2  and Grade 4 students.


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


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.







Please Note: Upcoming Public SWI workshops with Pete Bowers

  1. BulletApril 9, Mississauga: SWI In Toronto! Public workshop hosted by Al Huda Elementary School. Click HERE for flyer and registration.
  2. BulletApril 20-21-22, Bangkok: Public workshop with Pete Bowers and Fiona Hamilton (Roots: A Place for Words) Click HERE for information and to register.

  3. BulletApril 28-29, Melbourne: Public workshop with Pete Bowers & Lyn Anderson (Beyond the Word) hosted by Wesley College, Melbourne, Australia. Click HERE for a poster with information. Click HERE to register.

  4. BulletJune 26-30: SWI Nueva Institute near San Francisco. Information and registration HERE.

  5. BulletJuly 18-21: First 4-day WW SWI Summer Course on Wolfe Island. This year to be hosted at Pete and Sus’ home. Limit 10 people. Email Pete for details.

  6. BulletAugust 17-18, Edmonton: 2-day SWI workshop hosted by Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. Details and register HERE.

  7. BulletAugust 21-25, Edmonton: 5-Day SWI university course at the University of Alberta. Open to undergrad, graduate students and non-students. Details to be announced. Email Pete to inquire about this exciting opportunity.