Just Words® is for students in grades 4–12 and adults who have mild to moderate gaps in their decoding and spelling proficiency but do not require intensive intervention. Student identification and proper group placement are critical to the success of a Just Words class. Just Words is designed for students with below-average decoding and spelling scores. This includes English language learners, who are twice as likely as their peers to score below basic levels in reading and writing skills and benefit from direct, explicit teaching of how to decode and spell English words and methods to assist with vocabulary acquisition.
Students identified for a Just Words class often are not able to engage with grade-level complex reading and writing tasks because they are not yet fluent readers or writers. However, the targeted, high-quality foundational literacy instruction provided in the Just Words classroom can help these students build the skills they need to achieve at higher academic levels across the curriculum. The program should be paired with a core reading program to address the comprehension strategy instruction that many students with a word-level deficit also require.
Just Words is effective for students who require the following skill sets that are addressed in the program:
- Phonemic Awareness: Just Words students master the critical skill of orally segmenting phonemes in a syllable. They learn to segment with a “tapping” system that provides a kinesthetic-tactile guide and reinforcement.
- In-Depth Word Study for Decoding and Spelling: Students learn that the English language generally follows a logical system. They study sound-symbol correspondence as related to syllable patterns, spelling rules, and the morphological patterns of prefixes, roots, and suffixes.
- Phonetically Regular Words: This study introduces students to a morphological understanding of English word structure. Students study word structure based on the six syllable types of the English language. Sounds and spelling rules are taught only as they relate to the syllable type being studied.
- High Frequency Words: Using kinesthetic-tactile memory techniques, students learn to automatically read and spell the most frequently used English words.
- Fluency: Students apply decoding skills to read with prosody, learning how to read sentences in meaningful phrases. This practice emphasizes fluent reading for meaning rather than speed.