A Familiar Battle
Do you ever feel so frustrated when you’ve done everything you could possibly do to teach your students their sight words and then when they come to the word, they still attempt to sound out the word?
If it has happened to you, you are absolutely not alone. It happened to me more times than I would like to count when I was in the classroom! Thankfully, you don’t have to stay stuck. Students can become successful readers using a very specific resource I’ve developed called the Sight Word Mastery Method.
Over the past several weeks, we have been going over the steps to this approach. In this training, we are going to cover everything you need to know for the fourth step: practice.
Let’s Review The Steps
Before we get started, let’s review the steps we have covered so far. To begin, we want to make sure we are not randomly teaching sight words, so we need to pinpoint. We want to ensure students are mastering the words we are teaching.
This first step involves choosing either the Fry or Dolch sight word list and identifying all the words you want your students to master (not just be exposed to) by the end of the school year.
The second step is to plan. To do this, you will go through your calendar and identify which words you will teach and on which days of the school year. Additionally, you will need to build in time for students to practice these words.
Step three is all about teaching. In this step, we talked about the importance of direct instruction when it comes to sight words. Students should be told what the word is when it is introduced rather than asking students to guess the word. This step also includes the process of spelling the sight word together.
A Strategic Way to Practice Sight Words
The fourth step in the Sight Word Mastery Method is all about practice. There are plenty of fun activities that allow students to practice sight words such as rainbow writing, sight word bingo, or perhaps coloring the sight word.
While all these can be useful, we will be focusing on a different type of practice. This sight word practice includes three specific elements.
Read, read, read!
Students have to read these words in text, not just in isolation. Students should always be provided with text that is decodable. This type of text includes sound patterns that have already been introduced along with other sight words students already know.
Remember, sight word instruction should always be taught side by side with phonics instruction. If you need a breakdown of how to do this strategically, check out this post HERE.
If you are noticing that students are not applying their knowledge of your amazing sight word instruction, they most likely have not had enough practice in controlled, purposeful text. Also, note that students don’t need to be able to comprehend at this stage of reading. We just need them to decode.
We have to give students ample opportunity to make the connection in their brain that comes with getting the pencil to the paper. This becomes even more important in kindergarten and first grade when students are learning their letters. Students should be writing their words EVERY day!
This is when we give students the opportunity to read the new sight word along with other sight words that they already know. This should be a daily practice.
How often should you teach sight words?
Sight word instruction should take place every day. Typically I recommend introducing the word on day 1 and then spending the next four days teaching that sight word along with the sight words you have already introduced.
You want to consistently build in the repetition of the words you teach. Sight word practice should be taking about ten minutes of your daily instruction time. You need to introduce the word, then allow students to write it, read it in text, and if possible, build in some dictation to link sight word and phonics instruction. Then you can wrap it all up with distributive practice.
In the next post, I will be covering the last and final step of the Sight Word Mastery Method. If you are interested in a special resource I created to help you implement the Sight Word Mastery Method, grab the Sight Word Intervention Quick Start Guide!
This way you can take the guesswork out of sight word instruction this year and feel confident that you will have a classroom full of students who have mastered their sight words which will also prepare them to be successful readers!