WordWorks Literacy Centre – Structured Word Inquiry (“scientific word investigation”), SWI.

Peter Bowers’ website is a remarkable resource for teaching yourself and your students how meaning and spelling relate.

Develop routines, and strategies to use “the principles of scientific inquiry as the basis of word level literacy instruction.”


The following are the standard four questions used to guide SWI investigations.

Investigate with these 4 questions…

  1. What does the word mean?

2. How is it built? 

Can you identify any bases or affixes with a word sum?

3. What other related words can you think of? 

Morphological relations: Can the Word Searcher help you find words that could join your word on a matrix?

Etymological relations: Can a word origin dictionary (e.g. Etymonline) help you?

4. What are the sounds that matter? 

What grapheme/phoneme correspondences can you find that fit within your hypothesized morphemes?

Learn more at:

or http://www.wordworkskingston.com

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This site is a fork of the astonishingly deep and rich Real Spelling™ toolbox, and of Pete Bowers’ seminal work in bringing this understanding of English orthography to teachers at WordWorks Literacy Centre. Real Spelling and Pascal Mira hold the copyright to all of the Real Spelling materials, videos, podcasts, and texts. Pete holds the copyright to all of his articles, materials, videos, anything else he posts or allows to be posted here. Individual members own their own submissions. Matt Berman, the Webmaster, owns nothing except the website and its design, and any of his own postings. This site’s content is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which means that you are free to share, copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the content for noncommercial purposes, with attributionContact the Webmaster.