The Just Words® Curriculum
Based on the effective Wilson Reading System® (WRS) program, Just Words® is the word-study component of the WRS curriculum at an accelerated pace.
Foundational Standards for Accessing Grade-level Text
Just Words is a word-level intervention program for students who need additional support learning to read and spell at grade level. The program’s research-based approach presents all skills in an explicit, systematic, and sequential manner. Within standardized lesson plans, all concepts taught are practiced continually for reading, writing accuracy, and automaticity. Teachers can confidently present a carefully structured, year-long reading and spelling curriculum using engaging, multisensory techniques.
Areas of Study
Students master the oral segmentation of phonemes in syllables, a critical skill for reading and spelling success. Students learn to segment phonemes and words using a “tapping” system, a kinesthetic-tactile activity that guides students. Learners blend and segment three sounds at first and then incrementally progress to six sounds.
Word study is presented in two categories: phonetically regular words and high frequency words, which may include many phonetically irregular words.
Phonetically Regular Words: Most words in English are phonetically regular and follow the rules of the basic sound system. Students will learn:
- Sound-Symbol Correspondence: Students learn how to blend sounds for reading and segment sounds for spelling. They work with words in both directions. This method reinforces the learned word structures.
- Syllable Structure: Word structure is taught according to the six syllable types in the English language. Sounds are taught only as they relate to the syllable type being studied. The type of syllable tells you how to read the vowel sound.
- Orthography and Morphology: Orthographic rules involving base words and suffixes are taught directly. Common Latin prefixes, roots, and suffixes are also directly taught. These are introduced in correspondence to the syllable patterns.
High Frequency Words: Some are phonetically regular, but many are irregular, non-phonetic words that do not follow the “system” of the language. Instruction allows for these words to be recognized and spelled quickly and easily.
Further Study: Upon completion of the Just Words® program, students will have mastery of letter-sound relationships, syllable structures, and basic spelling patterns. They will understand the possibilities of word building with prefixes, roots, and suffixes and with the relationships between words. The Just Words curriculum provides a strong foundation for further word study.
In each unit, students apply decoding skills to read words in isolation, as well as in phrases, sentences, and short passages. Students learn a strategy to read passages with prosody; that is, phrasing with proper intonation. This guided practice emphasizes fluent reading for meaning, rather than speed. Please note that the Wilson Fluency®/Basic Kit (offered separately as an optional supplement) is designed to provide explicit fluency instruction and reading practice to develop the application of skills with connected text.
Students apply their decoding and spelling skills to various kinds of vocabulary words. These words include general academic and content-specific vocabulary words. If some students have a strong oral language base, they will make mental connections and more easily decode novel words. Other students may not have a well-developed oral English base; in this case, a focus on vocabulary is essential as they develop proficiency in decoding. In Just Words®, vocabulary is enhanced primarily through reading, so students become more proficient with decoding. Through this approach, learners are also exposed to more words. Although the Just Words program is not considered a vocabulary curriculum, it teaches students a process for learning the meanings of words. In each unit, there are Demonstration Words, which are presented to reinforce the mastery of the word structure introduced in that unit.
Comprehension, or reading with understanding, is the goal of reading instruction. Just Words® emphasizes word recognition, but comprehension is always the goal. Students learn a strategy for reading passages with prosody. This strategy emphasizes the reading of sentences in meaningful phrases. Students learn how to focus on the meaning of the sentences to successfully phrase them. As students read, they are also asked to visualize and replay the story of the text in their heads. This leads learners to retell the passage aloud, using visualization as a guide. The 45-minute Just Words lesson is designed to supplement a comprehensive English language arts (ELA) curriculum with comprehension strategies being a significant part of the core curriculum.
Supporting Acquisition of State Standards
Just Words® supports states’ college- and career-readiness standards, including Common Core State Standards, by providing struggling readers with strategies that will allow them to independently read and spell words and build the skills necessary to access and master grade-level standards.
How Just Words Supports Standards
As a word-level intervention program for students in grades 4–12, the alignment of many of the skills presented in the program fall outside of the standards outlined for students in those grade levels. Students identified for a Just Words class often are not able to engage in complex grade-level reading and writing tasks because they are not yet fluent readers or writers. Just Words provides these students with the foundational and language standards that are necessary to be able to access grade-level text. In this regard, Just Words aligns to these key foundational and language standards:
- Know and apply phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.
- Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
- Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
Content and Practice
Combining a synthetic phonics approach and explicit instruction in total word structure, students learn all English language letter-sound correspondences, syllable patterns (single and multisyllabic), and common prefixes, roots, and suffixes. They also engage in skilled practice with high frequency sight words (irregular words). Just Words instruction includes some aspects of reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Students have opportunities to practice proper phrasing in oral reading and focus on reading for meaning.
Learn how Just Words® meets states’ standards for instructional materials.
Learn how to identify students appropriate for Just Words® and how to implement it successfully in your classroom.
Comprehensive materials allow teachers to confidently present a carefully structured word-study program using engaging, multisensory techniques.
Meeting Social Content Standards
Just Words® is approved by the California State Board of Education as meeting the state’s social content standards.
Learn About Professional Learning Opportunities
We provide educators with the training needed to enhance instruction and support implementation of our programs with fidelity to achieve student success. Whether you need individual teacher support or school and district implementation plans, WLT is here to help.