Once your students are becoming faster at open word sorts with their PWIM words, it is important to extend their sorts into other words in the classroom, as well as in the books and other material they are reading.

In the photo below, the student had classified the words three times, which I recorded on a recipe card from their  bag.

                        word samples

I tell students that the first time they classify is the easiest, the second time you are pushing your thinking a bit further and the third time you are making your brain work even harder. It doesn’t mean that the last category they sort is the best, but that they had to try harder.

Once the student has classified three times, I ask them to choose one of their categories. I write the category on a sticky note.

word study 2

The student then searched for the category in her book during silent reading. The student extended her thinking by looking for ing words. She added anything, bouncing, stepping and tying to the original category from her PWIM words. She was very excited to share her thinking with her classmates.

Students can extend their categories on their own or in small groups.