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Friday, October 18 • 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Understanding Structured Word Inquiry: How it Fits in Research and Curriculum

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The phrase "structured word inquiry" (SWI) was first used to describe the instruction in a vocabulary teaching study (Bowers & Kirby, 2010). The phrase attempts to capture how this literacy instruction uses an approach of scientific inquiry to study how present-day English orthography operates to mark connections between words linked by structure and history. In less than a decade, SWI has raised interest and some controversy in the research community. The decades old "whole language vs. phonics" debate has made it difficult for many to understand that SWI is not a response to either phonics or whole language. It is a response to the proposition that literacy instruction should accurately reflect our best understanding of how our writing system works. It also draws on what we know about learning and instruction in any domain. This talk will make use of classroom/tutoring examples of SWI instruction to make sense of spellings neither phonics nor whole language explain. Dr. Bowers will present his view of where SWI fits in terms of theory and research on literacy instruction, and how this frame gives us a way to move beyond the artificial boundaries of whole language vs. phonics debates.

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avatar for Peter Bowers

Peter Bowers

Founder, WordWorks Literacy Centre
Pete Bowers, PhD, is a teacher, researcher, author, and founder of WordWorks Literacy Centre. His research on morphological instruction and "Structured Word Inquiry" and his practical work with schools are transforming how researchers, teachers, tutors, and students around the world... Read More →


Friday October 18, 2019 1:45pm - 2:45pm
Nueva Bay Meadows Campus 131 E. 28th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94403
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