Structured Word Inquiry (SWI)
back to all opportunities
Structured Word Inquiry (SWI)
Presented by: Peter Bowers
Thursday, January 20, 2022 | 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Thursday, January 27, 2022 | 9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Session Location:
Virtual Online, Any location, AB GET DIRECTIONS
About the Session:

Though this is a standalone learning opportunity for beginners to Structured Word Inquiry (SWI), this two part series compliments Peter’s Tools of SWI sessions offered by NRLC in Nov/Dec 2021 and participants can be confident to register regardless. 

This learning opportunity will focus on three core interrelated understandings. (1) Deepening understanding of how English orthography works; (2) Becoming confident in your ability to independently investigate English orthography scientifically; (3) Learning how to use your understanding of # 1 and #2 to guide your instructional practice.

Session #1: SWI as scientific inquiry & word families 

Peter will introduce a “big picture” of structured word inquiry as the application of scientific inquiry about how our spelling system works and how to use that as a driving feature of literacy instruction for learners of all abilities and ages. Key to this “big picture” is introducing the linguistic concept of “word families” as words connected in spelling structure and meaning through activities used from the beginning of schooling. By the end of the session, participants have practice and resources for using the same type of activity with students of all ages/abilities. Participants will practice the process spelling-out-loud and writing-out-loud and tapping out of word structure introduced last session. We also look at how these processes and SWI in general reflect the recommendations of cognitive load theory - a major theory of learning in psychology. We also see how these processes are applied to the process of reading instruction.

Session #2: Digging deeper into morphological and etymological families 

For this session we dig deep into  morphological and etymological families working with the 4 questions of SWI, learning to read Etymonline and constructing matrices by hand. Middle school science text will be used as a launching pad for orthographic inquiries to build understanding of content concepts and terms. We use this context to learn how to read Etymonline to collect etymological relatives (those that share a root) and then word sums to identify which of those words are also morphological relatives (those that share a base).In the final part of our second session we look at questions about morphological and etymological relatives and how they interrelate with grapheme-phoneme correspondences. We build on all the concepts addressed over the two sessions and end with a careful look at the research related to SWI.

Please be advised that this series will be recorded and only registered participants will have access to the recording after each session. The recordings will be available for a period of 30days after which it will be permanently deleted from Zoom Cloud

About the Presenter(s):
Peter Bowers

Pete Bowers, Ph.D., is a teacher, researcher, author, and founder of WordWorks Literacy Centre. Pete taught Grades 3-6 for 10 years before earning his Ph.D. from the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University. His research and practical work with schools and educational groups has been pivotal in transforming how teachers, tutors and students around the world understand English spelling. Instead of putting up with a frustrating system full of exceptions, the structured word inquiry (SWI) community understands that investigating the spelling-meaning connections in words is not only rich literacy instruction -- it is a rich context for leveraging learning about any subject. His teacher resource book, Teaching How the Written Word Works expands on the lessons of his vocabulary intervention (Bowers & Kirby, 2010) which found generative vocabulary learning for the experimental group, and introduced the term “structured word inquiry.” His workshops have taken him to Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, and North America.

Catering is not prepared in a nut/gluten-free environment.
Photography Release:
This is a public event with the likeliness of photo/video throughout the day. By attending, participants understand they may be captured in photo or video for future presentations or promotional material development. Please see conference hosts if you prefer to not be photographed.

Registration Fee:



Administrator/Administration, Curriculum Leaders/Leadeur de programme, Educational Assistant/Assistant en éducation, Learning Coaches/Accompagnateur pédagogique, Teachers/Enseignant

Grade Level:

K-12/Tous niveaux Maternelle à 12

Registration Notes:

Participants are required to have a copy of “Teaching How The Written Word Works” by Peter Bowers. The registration fee includes a copy of “Teaching How The Written Word Works” by Peter Bowers. If you already have a copy of the book by Peter Bowers, please use coupon code "IHAVETHEBOOK" to discount the cost of the book from your registration fees.

The book will be mailed to you, so please ensure that you provide a detailed mailing address while signing up for the series.

Please be advised that this series will be recorded and only registered participants will have access to the recording after each session. The recordings will be available for a period of 30days after which it will be permanently deleted from Zoom Cloud

There is also another series by Peter Bowers starting in November 2021, if youa re interested register using this link: