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Literacy Tip of the Week: Week of May 7th

posted May 8, 2017, 6:44 PM by Courtney Richardson

Teaching Sight Words during Guided Reading

In Appendix F of The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading (2016), there are sight word charts for monitoring progress at text levels A-I. Each chart has ten words that are appropriate for each text level. I chose the words by searching leveled texts from a variety of publishing companies to see which sight words appear most frequently at those text levels. I’ve also considered the developmental spelling needs at each level. The words in levels A and B are mostly phonetically regular because at those levels students are learning to hear sounds in sequence. The words at level C and higher are less phonetic because at those levels students need to learn how to retrieve words using visual memory. The charts and procedures are slightly different from those in my first book. 

Here’s why:

• I reduced the number of words to teach at each level to ten. Based on my work with primary students, ten is a more realistic number.

• At the recommendation of a Reading Recovery Trainer who read the manuscript, I extended the sight word lists to levels G, H and I. Children need to be taught sight words at these higher text levels to promote fluency. As children develop automaticity with a core of known words, they free up more cognitive space to process new words.

• I changed the last step for “Teaching a New Sight Word.” The last step is now “Write It (and retrieve it).” Students write the new word, saying it in a natural way as they write it. This mimics what they do when they write stories. Do not let students segment the sounds or spell the word. After they write the new sight word, dictate a familiar word to write. Then have them write the new sight word one more time. This small revision requires children to retrieve the new word from their bank of known words and prevents purely rote memory.

Don’t forget to have students write three familiar words at the beginning of each lesson. Children need to work with a sight word many times before it is firmly known.