Peter Bowers, PhD, is the founder of the WordWorks Literacy Centre in Ontario, Canada. For most of his ten years as an elementary school teacher in international schools and in Canada, Peter shared the common view that English spelling is highly irregular and full of exceptions to be memorized.

In his 9th year in the classroom, he and his Grade 4 students started to make sense of the spelling system when they began working with a resource called Real Spelling. Instead of studying lists of words, or spelling patterns with countless exceptions, they used scientific inquiry to investigate the underlying structures and conventions that link related words with consistent spelling despite changes in pronunciation. For example, if a student asked, "Why is there a in sign?" the class would look for related words containing sign and find words like signal, signature, design and designate. Not only did we find a good reason for that letter , but we discovered meaning connections between words we had never considered before; deepening and expanding our vocabulary in the process. Most importantly, through investigations like this, our class became a team of engaged word scientists. A surprising spelling was no longer experienced as another frustrating "irregular" word to memorize. Now words like does, rough, and business became launching pads for discovery.

This revelatory classroom experience inspired Peter to begin his graduate work. His Grade 4/5 morphological intervention published in the journal Reading and Writing (Bowers & Kirby, 2010) tested the effect of this instructional approach they called "structured word inquiry" and found positive effects on vocabulary learning.

Peter Bowers' workshops and presentations are engaging, practical sessions that model structured word inquiry classroom activities. His presentations have been received enthusiastically at international schools and scientific conferences in Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

Pete's Research
Refereed Journal articles

Bowers, P.N., Cooke, G. (2012, Fall). Morphology and the Common Core: Building students' understanding of the Written Word. Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 31-35

Bowers, P.N., Kirby, J.R., & Deacon, S.H. (2010) The Effects of Morphological Instruction on Literacy Skills: A Systematic Review of the Literature, Review of Educational Research, 80, 144–179.

Bowers, P.N. & Kirby, J.R. (2010) Effects of Morphological instruction on Vocabulary Acquisition, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 23, 515–537.

Kirby, J.R. & Bowers, P.N. (2012). Morphology Works. What Works? Research into Practice, Ontario Ministry of Education Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat.

Kirby, J.R., Deacon, S.H., Bowers, P.N., Izenberg, L. Wade-Wooley, L., Parrila, R. (2012) Morphological awareness and reading ability, Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal 25, 389-410.

Teacher Resource Book

Bowers, P. (2009). Teaching how the written word works. (See this link.)

Doctoral dissertation

Bowers, P. (2012). Morphological Instruction in the Elementary Classroom

Master's Thesis (2006-2007 Queen's Faculty of Education Thesis Prize)

Bowers, P. (2006) Adding Transparency to Morphologically Opaque Words Through Instruction