Today begins our new series on building reading fluency and we are starting with sight word activities! We believe it is important to practice with a purpose and with an urgency to learn! We have some simple, fun but effective sight word activities for guided reading small group time to share with you today.
This quote from Timothy Rasinski is so full of truth! Fluency isn’t about how fast one can read. Although, reading at the correct rate is important. But all activities to improve fluency must lead to making meaning or improved comprehension. Not speed just for speed’s sake.
Automaticity with sight words can impact reading fluency in a big way. Students need a good bank of sight words to draw from. Building fluency requires us to dig deeper into what may be the cause of lack of fluency. And one reason for some students is not having a large bank of sight words to draw from or a lack of automaticity with sight words.
New words can be practiced with a sequence of purposeful activities. Sometimes I keep magnetic letters in a plastic container for students. I write the word and we discuss it’s sounds and features. Then, the students build the word with magnetic letters. Next, comes Invisible Ink writing or you can do air writing. Last, we do a quick writing of the word. These steps really help students to learn their new word!
One quick way to practice with purpose is to place your sight words or flash card printables on a ring and go over them quickly at the guided reading table. Everything at your guided reading table must have a purpose and an urgency for learning. Have the different lists on different rings so you can easily pull out the set you need for each group. This also makes it easy to quickly cycle back and review previously learned words.
Another easy sight word activity is to have sight words for the week in a pocket chart. Read those 3 or 5 as a warm up. Pull them from the chart and do quick writes. This is where you call out a word and the students write it from memory as quickly as they can. To keep this a quick and purposeful activity, I will very quietly count down from 5 to 1. Students try to race and beat me!
Talk about the letters and sounds in the words students are learning each week. Point out the chunks that may be difficult to remember. Ask “what letters are making the /ow/ sound in out?” What sound does this word end with and what letter makes this sound? Count the sounds and point out that the number of sounds may be different than the number of letters. Clap the word for syllables. This is especially important as students move into multisyllabic words. Build the words with magnetic letters too!
A fun way to learn sight words is to play quick and engaging games! This sight word activity is what I call Show Me! We are from Missouri and Show Me is our motto. Students lay sight word cards on the table. Either the teacher or even better another student calls out a word. Students quickly pick up that card and hold it to their chest, showing no one their card. The word caller says 3-2-1 SHOW ME! And everyone shows their card. This sight word activity requires students to visually scan the words looking for visual attributes to match the sounds. And they absolutely love it! Learning is more fun and causes skills to stick better when it is in a game format.
As students are learning sight words and doing sight word activities, the teacher needs to keep track off the words they are learning. Mark off the words for students as they demonstrate evidence of learning(reading AND writing the words independently) on a tracking sheet like this. This kind of tracking sheet goes right in the anecdotal records notebook that you keep on your students. You can read more about our anecdotal records notebooks here.
An easy management tip for sight words so they can be differentiated is to have Sight Word Folders. I make the folders and keep extra stacks of sight words in baggies all prepped at the beginning of the year. Then as students work through sight word lists, you are ready to give them their new list. You can read more about these folders here.
After we have the sight word folders going, students keep them in their Reader’s Notebook. We just slip the folders into the front pockets of the binders. Then we are ready to go!
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