We use Words Their Way as our spelling program here at Concordia, and although I really like the program, I always found the logistics of it somewhat complicated. If you aren’t familiar with Words Their Way, the program is based on students learning spelling patterns by sorting lists of words into groups. It’s fun, kinesthetic, but also super messy. Each week the students cut out the words in their list, then they have to keep those words (which are now little bits of paper) all week. Many of my third graders had about a 50% success rate with lot losing any of their words by the end of the week. This was even worse with their set of words at home. Also, taking the time to check their sorts each week was a pain. I wanted something that would check their word sorts automatically so that if they sorted it wrong they didn’t have to wait till I got back to them to get it right. Enter “The Magnet Maker.”
This website allows you to create digital word sorts. If you’ve ever played with the magnetic poetry that people often have on their refrigerators the format of this program will look a bit familiar. There are many pre-created word sorts in the program but you can also create your own sorts, save a web link and then send it home with students. I am proud to say that once I introduced this to my students, we had a 100% success rate with not losing any of the words in the word sort.
The program is flash based however, so you can’t use it on the iPad.
The obvious use for this is with spelling, but you could also use it for sorting words by parts of speech, sorting historical characters into eras, sorting shapes by their properties, sorting characters in books by traits… basically anytime students should be organizing ideas into groups, you could use this program to create a sort. You can also use it to create sets of magnetic poetry which could be a fun extension to a poetry unit in reading or writing.
Do I plan to use it?
Yup! Already do.
Commitment and Learning Curve
Medium. The directions on the site are really clear but if you’re like me and don’t read very carefully you will find yourself going back to figure it out. Also, if you plan on embedding the link into a website you need to make sure that you save the Flash (.swf) file as well.
Best for ES MS or HS?