SWR ABCDs: Acronyms, ‘Breviations, Conventions, and Definitions

Like many facets of life, SWR has what seems to be its own vocabulary. Here is a list of the “ABCDs” of SWR.* The Resources listed as examples with the definitions are only a sampling. For a site-wide search of a term, click on the term.

In SWR materials, read the letter name when you see a capital letter such as this: A. Read the sounds when you see letters inside of forward slash marks like this: /a-A-ah/.
This applies to phonograms and words. You might see something like this: /c-a-t/. This is meant to be read as the sounds in the word ‘cat.’

The Alpha List: a book alphabetically listing the 2,000 words in the WISE Guide, many of their derivatives, and 300 words not appearing in the WISE Guide such as important nouns (e.g. days of the week, names of states). Words in the Alpha List are divided into syllables with SWR spelling markings and rules for each word are noted.

B1, B2, B3, . . . , B39: page numbers of Reference Pages in the Black Learning Log.

Basic Seminar: see Seminars

Black Learning Log: see Learning Log

Core Kit: the Core Kit contains essential tools for teaching SWR: the red SWR Teacher’s Manual, the brown WISE Guide, 70 Phonogram Cards, Spelling Rule Cards, and Phonogram CD. Add a Log for the teacher and each student and you’ll have everything you need. The most recent SWR Teacher’s Manual and WISE Guide are copyright 2015.

  • SWR Teacher’s Manual: overall teacher’s manual for use with the WISE Guide for Spelling. The cover is mostly red so we often refer to this volume as “the red SWR Manual.”
  • WISE Guide: a companion teacher’s manual to the red SWR Manual. The WISE Guide contains 2,000 scientifically-chosen Words, Instructions to teach these words, and Spelling Enrichments that reinforce the use of these words. The cover of the WISE Guide is predominately brown so sometimes we say “the brown WISE Guide.”
  • 70 Phonogram Cards: set of flash cards each with one of the 70 ways we spell the 45 basic sounds of English. The backs contain valuable information for teachers.
  • Spelling Rule Cards: set of flash cards showing the student clues to bring each of the 28 spelling rules to mind and mouth. The backs show the teacher the wording of the rule and further information.
  • Phonogram CD: audio tracks of the phonograms as pronounced by Gary Sanseri.

Examples: Sample SWR Manual and WISE Guide pages
Intro to SWR Core Kit Part 1

dictation: 1. saying something for someone else to write down instead of asking him to copy by sight. 2. The SWR method of teaching spelling sound-first and sight-last. Example: SWR Lesson Video

enrichment: 1. the activities at the bottoms of the WISE Guide section pages. 2. any activity that allows students to play with and put to use words they have learned, including compositions. Example: Intro to SWR Core Kit Part 1, Primary Lines with Blank Top for Illustration

fine motor movements: activate smaller muscles. A student who is developmentally ready to use his fine motor skills is ready for a pencil or pen and college-rule sized paper and often writes this size on his own during free play. Typically is it wise to ease the transition to fine motor skills for some time by taking breaks for gross motor movement activities.

fingergrams: an interactive kinesthetic representation of the number of syllables, letters, phonograms, and sounds in a word which the teacher shows the student with her fingers, then may direct the student, “Now show me on your fingers.” Example: SWR Lesson Video

gross motor movements: activate large muscle groups. Think of an infant using a fist to transfer food from plate to mouth because his smaller muscles and the nerves controlling them are not yet developed enough to be reliable. Sometimes SWR students are not yet ready for controlling a pencil or pen and it is better for them to work on a larger scale. A student using gross motor movements should be encouraged to use his dominant hand. Example: Lines for Name Tracing

Learning Log: a book that students author as guided by the teacher. WISE Guide word lists are added using SWR’s dictation process. Reference Pages are designed for students to interact with spelling rules. Ideally, a teacher will keep ahead of her student(s) in her own Log so she has enough time to discover what questions she might have before teaching that topic to her students. There are three options for Learning Logs: blank composition books, pre-formatted Black Logs and pre-formatted Primary Logs.

  • Primary Learning Log: generally used by K-2nd students. “The log is wide-ruled with a dotted center line. Each year a student builds his own “textbook,” logging in foundational material as he learns it. The teacher also needs to build a sample teacher’s master. The log has two sections, a place for adding new spelling words and a reference section that will reinforce spelling rules taught.” (bhibooks.net)
  • Black Learning Log: generally used by students at the 3rd grade level or higher. “A tailored replacement for the standard blank black composition notebook that students . . . use to ‘log in’ new spelling words, analyze spelling rules, collect examples, build grammar understanding, create derivatives, and master correct use of heteronyms.” (bhibooks.net)
  • composition book: teacher formats one then guides students to format theirs at the beginning of the year. Recommended are composition books with 50 leaves. Instructions are given in SWR Manual Step 8.

For more information: No Log? No Problem!

markings: see spelling markings

P1, P2, P3, . . . , P15: page numbers of Reference Pages in the Primary Learning Log. See page 45 of the red SWR Manual for the Teacher’s Table of Contents for the PLL.

PExtra: a reference page not pre-printed in the Primary Learning Log. Example: Primary Log Extras

phonogram: generically, visual representation of sound. English has 45 sounds which we spell in 70 basic ways. A phonogram is a letter or set of letters used to represent one or more of these sounds. Example: Phonogram Review: All 70

Phonogram Cards: see Core Kit

Phonogram CD: see Core Kit

practicum: see Seminars

preliminaries: found on the upper left hand page of the WISE Guide sections. Most are done before beginning that section. It is also a good idea to read the upper right hand page before beginning a section. Sometimes it’s a reminder to teachers, sometimes it’s a short script that may be read before dictation, or sometimes it’s a detail that ties in with the enrichment activities below. Example: Intro to Core Kit Part 1

Primary Learning Log: see Learning Log.

salt box: A shallow box with a layer of salt on the bottom. Students use gross motor movements to “write” phonograms or words in the salt with their fingers. The sides should not be so high that they interfere with the student’s arm. Substitutes for salt: coarse cornmeal/polenta grits, sand.

Section: refers to a spelling list in the WISE Guide.

Seminars: taught by Endorsed Trainers, in-person Seminars are the best way to be immersed in the SWR method. If you don’t see a Seminar local to you, consider asking an Endorsed Trainer if you may host one. If that’s not an option, some Endorsed Trainers offer courses over Zoom.

  • Basic Seminar: typically a two-day course. You will experience learning the method as a student would and gain the confidence to teach your students.
  • Intermediate Seminar: digs deeper into select aspects of SWR using spelling words higher in the list. The time allotted may vary. 
  • Advanced Seminar: focuses on the upper level spelling and composition. Students use Black Learning Logs. This is typically a three day seminar. 
  • Practicum: shorter class with a particular focus. Consult with individual Trainers for topics and costs.

Click here for the calendar of scheduled events.

spelling markings: applied to words to illustrate how to think-to-spell and apply rules. see page 220 in the red SWR Manual. Example: Alternate Silent Final E Reference Page Words

Spelling Rule Cards: see Core Kit

SWR Manual: see Core Kit

Teacher’s Log: A Black or Primary Learning Log the teacher builds. Ideally, a teacher will keep ahead of her student(s) in her own Log so she has enough time to discover what questions she might have before teaching that topic to her students.

think-to-spell: Saying a word using the classic, pure sounds of the phonograms in order to remind ourselves and our students how to write them. Example: Think-to-Spell: Farm Animals, SWR Lesson Video

WISE Guide for Spelling: see Core Kit

*Ironic, isn’t it, that we promote teaching children to read by not teaching them the names of the letters and yet we use them here to describe the language of SWR? Acronyms, Abbreviations, Conventions, and Definitions (AACD!?!) just didn’t look quite right so please indulge me here.

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