Today I saw a post on the SWI Facebook page that I thought was just wonderful, and a rich launching pad that teachers might want to take advantage - especially at the beginning of the school year. I asked the author, Susie Pickett, if I could share here in this open group. (If you would like to join the "closed" SWI Facebook group -- just email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Here's Susie's story!

Tonight was a good night. My teaching partner asked me (this afternoon) to create a few slides for our 4th-Grade PowerPoint for Back to School Night. I created (and attached HERE) these four slides. I had 2 matrices on the desks when the parents arrived. I asked them to see if they could discover 2 of our life skills hidden in the matrices. They looked, they puzzled. I asked them to turn and talk with a partner. Some parents figured it out and shared "<cooperation> and <friendship>." I told them that I worked on these matrices for several days with a group of colleagues (many of you!) to create this matrix, and it took a few days to figure out what the base of <cooperation> was. 

Then I asked them why there was a <g> in <sign>. I told them briefly about the research from 1970 (Carol Chomsky) and the current research (Pete Bowers & Jeff Bowers, 2017). My partner also told them that their students are very fortunate that I have had training and continue to engage in scholarly conversation around Structured Word Inquiry. 

My enthusiasm was evident. Parents leaned forward. They were curious. Someone raised their hand at the end. I thought it was a question. It was simply, "I wish I could be in your class. English is my second language." Another parent chimed in, "I speak English as a first language, and I am just as interested." I am beyond thrilled that the 4th-grade parents love this. It was a brief introduction, but I re-read Pete's article this afternoon, and I felt ready to share, and confident that the message would be well received. Thank you all for giving me confidence (and keeping me humble). I SO look forward to continuing to move forward and to share what I am learning in an organic, inviting way. 

A 3rd-grade teacher wants to work with students after school to support their reading. I offered to work with her and show her how SWI works. She has been skirting the edges, curious, but without the opportunity to work with me. We will make this happen. She is engaged and ready.


I responded to Susie with this before asking if I could share her work:

Well, Susie Pickett, you just made my day. You've put into practice something I keep trying to remind myself to do when introducing SWI -- spend as little time as possible talking about it, and get right to letting whoever you are trying to convey what it is about to engage with the interrelation of structure and meanings of words. The experience of making the discoveries you offered is sooooo much more powerful than anything you could have said. Nothing motivates like understanding!

Many thanks to Susie for sharing her excellent work on the SWI Facebook page, and to the wider public here!