5 Strategies to Teach Sight Words
Sight words (AKA high frequency words) are the most frequently encountered words in texts.
Sight words make up 50 to 70 percent of any general text. Sight words cannot be sounded out. Therefore, it is important for students to be able to automatically recognize these words in print. Basically, students should memorize these words by sight in order to improve overall reading fluency; thus, improving comprehension.
Learning sight words also has been shown to help with writing. Automaticity with spelling sight words will inevitably aid fluency in written expression.
Some school systems use the Dolch Word List, some use the Fry Words, and others create their own priority word lists by grade level.
Regardless of which list you use, sight word instruction should include these 5 strategies!
Isolation & Context!
Teach sight words in isolation and context simultaneously.
Provide students with opportunities to read and spell sight words in isolation. Such activities might include reading sight words on cards or on a list. Dictate sight words for students to practice spelling them in isolation on paper, white boards, or with tools like play doh.
At the same time, provide students with opportunities to read and spell sight words in context. Read! Have students read texts to apply side word reading in context. Have students write dictated sentences that include sight words. This will allow students to practice spelling sight words in context.
My Guided Reading Passages provide students with isolated and contextual practice. Check them out!
Get students more involved in learning through multi-sensory learning. This includes the use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile pathways to enhance memory and learning.
Have your students spell their sight words in shaving cream, type them, write them in different colors, do jumping jacks as they read and spell, march in place...and the list goes on!
All students learn differently and require different stimuli. Multi-sensory learning is a best practice approach for ALL learners, but learning must also be meaningful.
Remember Algebra class? Remember wondering when will I ever use this in life? Remembering wanting to ask, “Why am I learning this?”
Don’t let your students wonder why they are learning! Make their multi-sensory learning meaningful!
Having your students use stamps to spell sight words is a cute idea, but we can make it meaningful. After stamping, trace over each letter, saying the letter aloud, and then, reading the word at the end. Write a sentence using the word.
Motivate your students to learn with a little healthy personal competition! Have students keep a record of the sight words that they are able to read and spell with automaticity.
Spend a few minutes each week assessing student progress. Have them color in or check off the sight words they are able to read and/or spell in under 3 seconds. Award them for each level of sight words that they accomplish! Plus, your students are maintaining their own progress monitoring data!
A great motivator is my High Frequency Words and Sight Words Rainbow Challenge!
Include sight words in your word study or spelling lists.
I provide my students with lists of sight words. We highlight the sight words that they can read with automaticity in one color. They highlight the sight words that they can spell automatically in a different color.
Each week students circle 3-5 sight words in pencil. These words are added to their weekly list. They practice reading and spelling these words, and then, these words are included on their weekly tests.
At the end of each month, students are assessed on the words that they have chosen for the month to be added to their list. They are asked to read and spell the sight words. Any words read and spelled with automaticity are highlighted in their corresponding color and added to their charts! (Hey, look! The students are keeping their own progress monitoring data!)
You can use my Sight Words Pre- and Post- Tests to assess student progress!
Let’s get visual!
Visuals give students a trick for learning! Think of different ways you can use a mnemonic device to improve your students’ memory for learning. Mnemonic devices are a memory techniques to help a student’s brain better encode and recall important information.
For example, turn words or letters into visual representations. Turn the letter /r/ in the word /there/ into an arrow, and turn the letter /i/ in the word /their/ into a person.
Grab a FREEBIE of this idea here!
AND learn a trick for WOULD, COULD, and SHOULD!
When learning becomes fun, students make progress! And when students make progress, they achieve!
~ By Miss Rae
Hi! I'm Miss Rae! I'm a Special Education Coordinator with a passion for creating research-based resources for DiVeRSe learners.