Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How I teach Sight Words


One of my favorite things to teach right now is sight words! I think it is because it is the beginning of the year and the littles are so eager to soak things up and the concept of sight words and how these words help them read is super exciting! I teach sight words in several different ways with my kids:
1. Using a Word Wall
2. Work Stations/Independent Practice
3. Small Groups (guided practice)
4. Homework Flash Cards
5. Ring of Words for Morning Work
6. Keep Data and Set Goals

Keep reading to learn a little more about each component and why it is so important!

1. Using a Word Wall


My Word Wall is SO helpful for my littles. When I first started teaching, I threw a Word Wall up, but honestly never referenced it much. Now in year 5, I completely understand why it is so important for both Reading and Writing that the kids know how to use it. You can find the letters on my Word Wall on TpT by clicking on the picture. After I introduce the sight words for the week, we leave them on my easel spelled out with letter magnets until Friday when we move them to the Word Wall. We spend all week practicing how to spell them, using them in sentences, etc.

I tried to make my Word Wall super easy for my kids to reference. I wanted to be able to give them an easy way to find the words, so I color coded them with 6 different colors. For example, if a student is writing and cant remember how to spell the word 'like," I can say "It is the blue word under the L." This has helped SO much rather than watching their eyes trail off to the Word Wall and look confused! I just used Microsoft Word and used the highlighter tool to make each word a different color. You can grab them here! It is a Word Doc, so you should be able to download it and change the font. I have included all of the sight words that my team teaches, which includes the Dolch Pre-Primer and Primer words plus some extras that my district requires us to teach. The font on this file is Kimberly Geswin's KG Miss Kindergarten which you can find here. Also, our Word Wall is pretty bare right now because it is only September. :) There will be 123 words by the end of the year!


2. Work Stations/Independent Practice
Work Stations are a great way for students to independently practice their sight words. There are SO many great products on TpT specifically for independent sight word practice. This freebie is also one of my favorite ways to have them practice.Click on the picture to grab a copy. Sometimes I give them the words I want them to practice, but sometimes, I let them choose the words from their Ring of Words. (see #5) We also do alot of hands on word building with stamping, letter tiles, magnets, letter beads, etc.!
3. Small Groups (guided practice)
I am lucky enough to have a full time instructional para-pro in my classroom all day that serves as one of my small group rotations. We work on sight words in my small group once a week and they also work on it in my para's small group once a week. During guided practice I differentiate among my guided reading groups. For my lowest group we are just working on identifying the words by sight right now. But for my highest group, we are spelling the words and practicing using them in context by dictating sentences and with writing. Guided practice is such a great time for you to see which kids are struggling and those that need that extra challenge. I always tell my kids there is so much to learn with sight words. If you already know them by sight, you can always learn how to spell them from memory, use them in  a sentence, write a story with them, etc.! One of my favorite games to play with them in small group is "Whats the missing letter?" I build the word with the magnets then turn around where they cant see and remove a letter, then they have to guess what is missing!

4. Homework Flash Cards
This is KEY! Often at the beginning of the year, [some] parents are dying to get their hands on homework or activities to do with their child. One of the first things we do on my team is send home sight word flash cards! We only teach 3-4 sight words per week, which go home in their weekly homework folders. The students are responsible for cutting out their sight words and practicing them every.single.night. I have them keep their words in plastic pencil pouches in their folders. If you don't use homework folders, you could have them keep them in a Ziploc baggie that stays in their bookbags.

5. Ring of Words for Morning Work
These are my FAVORITE! I try to test my students every week to get an accurate number on how many sight words they know. As you can see in the picture, I highlight the date that I test them and then highlight the words they knew on that date with the same color. I love seeing their progression & their number grow- they love moving their clip up the Sight Word Data Wall as it grows! (see # 6)

After I test them, we have a small group discussion on which words they still need to learn on an individual level. I have them write their unknown words on an index card and place it on their "Ring of Words." I try to never let them have more than 3 unknown words on their rings, and as they master a word, we add another that they do not know. If they come in knowing almost all of the words we teach, this allows me to jump ahead in the list and differentiate for each student based on their needs.

They keep their rings in their cubbies hanging on a command hook.

What do they do with their Ring of Words? They practice their words of course! As a class, we came up with this list of ways to practice our sight words...

When students come in in the mornings, they complete their unfinished work. If they do not have any unfinished work, they grab their Ring of Words out of their cubbie and practice them by choosing a method from the list! They take such great ownership over their rings and are VERY determined to keep adding words! Also, if we ever have any downtime throughout the day, Rings of Words are a great filler!

6. Keep Data and Set Goals
As I said above, I try to take data on my kids sight words every week. It is SO important that they know what you are doing and why. For so long, I would just test my kids and never really explain why I was highlighting or what that data meant. That was SO silly now that I think about it! Now that I have explained the process and what it means, they get SO excited when I test them on their words and you can see the sense of accomplishment on their faces when we highlight the words on their test! After we have recorded the number of sight words that they know, the kids can then move their clip up the Sight Word Data Wall. My data wall goes up to 120 words because we teach 123, and then they are learning "1st grade words" after that. :)  I have my kids names written on one side of the clip and their numbers written on the other side, because honestly I haven't decided which side I want to use this year! I think there are pros and cons to both names and numbers. This data wall helps keep their goals visual and gets them excited to be able to keep moving their clip!

And that's it! Now I want to know...how do YOU teach sight words?!? Leave me a comment if you have a great go-to for sight words!


4 comments:

  1. This is great! I loved this post. Honestly I've struggled going back and forth whether or not I should enforce teaching the spelling of the sight words or just being able to read them. I never really had them focus on certain ones per week, it was more individualized. I think there's pros and cons. I bet if I were to go back and re-test my kids again, they might not have actually LEARNED the words because they didn't get as much meaningful interaction like the way you teach it. Do you use Dolch or Fry? Thanks for the post!

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    1. Hi Miss Lamphere! Thanks so much for your kind words! Now that the year has ended, I can say I saw SO much growth in my little ones by using these strategies. It is well worth the effort! At my school we do not use a specific list- we use one that we have compiled ourselves that is featured in the picture of my Progress Monitoring Tool. :)

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  2. You said you used blocks for your sightword display? I'm not understanding how you did it! :) Can you explain please!

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    Replies
    1. Hey there! I am on maternity leave or I would send you some pics! But what I did was take the wooden base ten blocks (tens) and hot glued them to the back of the pages. I then hot glued the other side of the blocks to the door. This made it where the pages poke out from the door about half an inch so that it is easier for the kids to slide their clothespins on. I hope that makes sense! :)

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