Word study provides students with opportunities to investigate and understand the patterns in words. Knowledge of these patterns means that students do not need to learn to spell one word at a time.
Word study gives students the opportunity to fully explore and manipulate words so that they can make sense of word patterns and their relationships to one another. Spelling "rules" are not dictated by the teacher for students to memorize. Rather, spelling patterns and generalizations are discovered by students.
A cycle of instruction for word study might include the following:
Read the complete article by Diane Henry Leipzig: Word Study: A New Approach to Teaching Spelling, published online at Reading Rockets.