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October 9, 2021

Fiona Hamilton

Word Inquiry: developing word ‘noticers’ and ‘knowers’ diving into phonology, morphology and etymology through investigations

Word Inquiry uses an inquiry-based approach to uncover the logic of English orthography. As you learn to guide your students to analyze, synthesize and find relationships among words you help them build a bank of tools and strategies they can apply independently, giving them greater control of their language, literacy and thinking skills.

This workshop is suitable for those brand new to Word Inquiry and those who are experienced with this instructional approach and want to deepen their understanding. Together we will dive into learning more about how our English orthography reflects an interrelation of morphology, etymology and phonology to represent the meanings of words and show relationships among words.

The workshop will include a focus on application and, using a range of tools and strategies, participants will try many of the activities they can then use with their students.

Throughout this workshop participants will be presented with opportunities to:

  • deepen their own understanding of how English words are structured
  • know how to provide a supportive environment which fosters curiosity about how words work
  • learn there really is a system and it can be explored through scientific inquiry
  • distinguish the difference between investigations and practice for concept and skill consolidation
  • engage with activities you can immediately use with your students
  • use authentic children’s literature as one important source of interesting words for exploration
  • understand the power of the morpheme (bases, prefixes and suffixes)
  • be better informed about the complexity of letter-sound relationships and learn how this is interwoven with the structure and history of words
  • practice using a variety of word inquiry tools and processes, such as boxing the base and underlining affixes as well as ‘feeling’ phonemes and tap-spelling words.
  • apply their learning to build reading, spelling and vocabulary skills in all disciplines


Fiona Hamilton began her career (and her life) in Australia and is now based in Bangkok, Thailand. Fiona holds an MEd (administration) and an MEd (literacy) as well as Literacy Coaching certification. As a passionate user of orthographic inquiry for over 15 years, either as a teacher or implementing it in her schools as an administrator, she now runs Professional Development for educators interested in learning about English orthography and helps school embed this approach into their practice. Fiona has studied with Real Spelling and often works with Pete Bowers of Wordworks. Contact her through her website www.wordtorque.com and find her on Twitter: @wordtorque.