Sixty-Five Weeks

A couple of months ago, one of my longtime clients reached out for help with the Fry List, a commonly-used list of 1,000 high-frequency words that, according to the list’s compiled, Dr. Edward Fry, help children master 90% of all the words they’ll need for their own literacy tasks and activities.

But you know what will help children master 100% of words? Understanding the system.

So about a month ago, I help a free pop-up class on the Fry List for Shameless Spelling subscribers, and we brainstormed. I learned from teachers a bit what the demands are like, and what their challenges are. The Fry List claims to be composed in order of frequency, but there is no other rhyme or reason to the list, and as far as I know, most children cannot be injected with words to make them proficiently literate. Many, many schools require teachers to “teach” the Fry List. Even classrooms and clinics that claim to be teaching direct, systematic, cumulative, diagnostic and prescriptive approaches in which children are taught to analyze words using synthetic and analytic strategies, even those for children with dyslexia, still insist on trying to cram the Fry List down everyone’s throat, in order to feel like they’re doing something.


It’s a mandate for a lot of teachers who have no meaningful strategies for helping their kiddos acquire all those words.

Sixty-Five Weeks: an orthographic resource for Fry List study

So, Sixty-Five Weeks is the result of my pop-up class discussion with educators and homeschoolers. A school year typically lasts 35-36 weeks. If we shave off a couple weeks at the beginning and at the end, that leaves somewhere around 30 weeks in each academic year where the Fry List could be studied. In general, administrators want all 1,000 words learned by the end of 2nd grade. While Sixty-Five Weeks are designed for flexible use, the basic idea is that the structured, meaningful word lists and activities could be started toward the end of kindergarten and completed by the end of 2nd grade.

LEX’s Sixty-Five Weeks is, then, an orthographic resource that organizes the Fry List’s 1,000 words into Sixty-Five Weeks of study, organized not by frequency, but by the structural and meaningful patterns in words and word families. Each word is featured in at least one of the Sixty-Five Weeks, though there are redundancies built in. Targeted patterns include functional and lexical spelling patterns, prefixes, suffixes, doubling, math words, etymological spellings, and more. The Sixty-Five Weeks are not linear; they can be studied in any order, and the activities are helpful for developing both reading and spelling skills.

This new resource is discounted for pre-order through August 2022. Publication is expected November 2022. No refunds for pre-orders.

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