Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sight Words = Reading Survival

Whether teaching elementary, secondary, or adult students, providing learners with a solid sight word base builds confidence and enthusiasm for learning.

Sight words are words that cannot be sounded out or the skill of sounding out the word has not been taught. 

According to most experts, the basic 250 sight words provide an immediate survival vocabulary giving students access 50%-70% of most reading material.

There are thousands of internet references that discuss  the specific number of essential words required and the relative value of different lists. Sample  references that showcase the sight word controversy,  can be found at the end of this article. 

 I believe the following can be considered true:

Sight words give a student, regardless of grade or ability level, a jump-start to reading.

A Direct Teaching using a multisensory method   should be used for initial teaching. Direct Teaching is the process of teaching small units of content in contained scripted lessons.

After the initial lesson, Cooperative Learning is the most effective way to attain mastery of a given sight word list.

Read Repeat Spell Write is one multi-sensory method of Direct Teaching that I have found successful with groups of one to forty.

Read Repeat Spell Write

Preparation: Before the beginning of the instructional period, Write selected vocabulary words, on the board. The words should be numbered to assist quick reference. A yardstick, ruler, pointer or hand may be used to point to the words.

Note: Vocabulary words should remain on the board until mastery of the words have been attained The visual reinforcement and opportunity for quick reference facilitates visual retention of words.

 Provide each student with a paper and a pencil.

 The instructor points to the first word and says the name of the word.

 The instructor points to the first word and asks, “What is this word?”

 Students read the name of the word aloud as a group.

 The instructor says, “This word is spelled…..” spelling out the letter names of the word.

 The instructor asks, “How is this word spelled?”

 Students, as a group, spell the word together as the instructor points to the letters. If the group does not spell the word together, repeat the activity until mastered.

 The instructor says, “Write the word.” Students write the word on their paper.

The instructor conducts a check for accuracy using a Walking Check or Peer Check. This can be done after each word or at the completion of writing the list. The frequency of checking depends on the ability level of the group.

Note: When students are writing a list of words on their papers, you may want to have them fold the paper in half to provide an interior straight margin.

Note: This activity may be used to memorize math facts. ©

Internet Resources:

Bettis, Julie A. Sight Word Instruction Methods: Concordia University
DePaul University: Comparison of Fry and Dolch
Dr Shanahn: Sight Words for Grade K
E-how Mom: What are Dolch Words
Ehrl, Linnea C:  City University of NY
Illinois State University: Sight Word Recognition Among Children at Risk
Lincs: Assessment Strategies and Reading
Michigan State Adult Education: Sight Words
Nichcy Meta-Analysis
Penn State: Sight Word Recognition
Pinterest: Kinesthetic Activities
Utah Education Network: Sight Words

Wikipedia: Sight Words

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Meeghan Mousaw said...

Thank you! I plan on using this to share with our facebook followers for Sight and Sound Reading:

Sight Words are the basis of our teaching children to read for free through our online videos. Sight Words allow children to gain confidence through reading. They gain the skills by learning the sight words in the context of the reading, making it easier for them to memorize each word.

Jacqueline Rhoades said...

Thank you to the LD LinkedIn group for all your comments and good ideas.