Saturday, October 8, 2016

Making Sense of Teaching Sight Words




Sight words, High Frequency Words, Popcorn Words
Whatever you call them chances are if you are a primary teacher you have a list of them that students are supposed to learn! If you are a parent your child has a list of them that you are supposed to help with!
Sight words are ESSENTIAL for becoming a fluent reader!
And becoming a FLUENT reader is essential for understanding (comprehension) text books as well as other meaningful written language for the rest of your life!
According to this info graphic from Samson's Classroom over 50% of most every piece of written text is composed of sight words!
Sight Words Statistics
In 1996 Dr. Fry published a book called "Fry 1000 Instant Words". Dr. Fry found the following results through his research:
25 words make up about 1/3 of all written material
100 words make up about 1/2 of all written material
300 words make up about 3/5 of all written material
I don't know about you but I want to know those 300 words! And I want my students to know those 300 words!
Have I convinced you sight words are a necessary evil yet?
Good let's move on.
So we know we want our students to know these 300 words that make up 65% of all written language. We even know what words they are thanks to Dolch and Fry!
BUT
How do we teach our darling little students them?
Cause they are words like 
COULD
WAS
and  OF.
Words as I tell my students that -  Don't Play Fair!
For the record when I taught Kindergarten we called them Popcorn Words because they POPPED up in books all the time, and we would BUTTER (highlight) them in our little mini books - It was great!
but these words don't play fair. So as a teacher, and especially a reading teacher. I want every strategy known to teachers up my sleeve to use to help my students learn these oh so important words!
This post is NOT about which words you should teach in what grade or how many or anything like that - that is a BIG topic but not one I want to delve into I want to help you teach WHATEVER words to your students!

 So here it is my strategies for teaching sight words!


1. Explicit, intentional, purposeful PHONICS instruction.
WHAT?!?! 
Yes that is right. Phonics instruction can help with sight word instruction.
Not every single letter in every single sight word breaks every rule! In fact only about 4% of words have to be learned completely visually (Hanna, Hanna, Hodges & Rudorf: 1966). 
(Yes OF does we will get to it in a minute)
I feel like this was my biggest mistake when I taught Kindergarten for six years, 6 years ago. I have grown as a teacher and I have learned! Many sight words have pieces or parts that play by the rules!
If your students are taught phonics they can apply those strategies to help them figure out or at least start to figure out some sight words!
This includes secondary sounds for letters such as C, Z, and G along with teaching them the strategy of FLIP THE SOUND or try a different sounds this is also great for VOWELS and Y!

2. Identifying what a SIGHT WORD is. 
There are words on that list of 300 that absolutely can be sounded out, and they are absolutely good to learn! But they can be sounded out with phonics skills and are therefore phonetic words and not SIGHT WORDS (recognize by sight).
Word sorts are a great way for students to identify those words that can be sounded out and those that can't, and even a third group where parts can be sounded out! These sorts will change depending on your level of students as they learn more phonics rules. For example my Kindergarten kids would say NOW breaks the rules but my second graders wouldn't because they have been taught the OW dipthong.


3. Word and letter shape. Due to the high reliance on the shape of the letters that form the words, especially for SIGHT words and especially in Kindergarten using boxes that are tall, short, etc. with the same number of boxes as letters is a GREAT way to help students begin to visualize the difference in words and therefore begin to recognize words by sight!
There are dozens of activities on TPT that focus on just such a skill.

Including my Box It Up Sight Words which is pages of words that have the boxes like show above in the BOX IT portion!



4. Seeing it in context or giving it meaning.
If you have read my Just Say No to Nonsense Words post you know how I feel about words and meaning. But how do you convey meaning of the word THE to a Kindergartener.
You put it in the context of a sentence, and you compare the sentence with and without the word in it!
This is where our "buttering" (highlighting) our popcorn words came in to play when I taught Kindergarten. It also helps with visual discrimination.

To Grab the set show in the picture above click this link HERE to go to my TPT store and grab it!


5. Repetition, Practice, Repetition and Practice. Students need to be exposed to sight words over and over and over and over! They need to continually work with these words and be exposed to and assessed on them. Especially struggling students who with the addition of new sight words sometimes get confused with the ones we "thought" they had already learned.

Every student in my class has their own ring of sight words and we add to them and take ones out that they have mastered.  
In case you want to make these in two days with Amazon Prime shipping click the pictures below to get the notecards and rings! (affiliate link)





Some more fun ways to get in repetition are shown and linked below.
Watercolor Sight Words
Watercolor Sight Words, Fun, Engaging, End of the Year, Su
Watercolor Sight Words is sure to be a hit with your students! They use watercolors to fill in the sight words!
Roll and Read Sight Words
Sight Word Roll & Read - Fun, Engaging, Activity Kindergar
Students roll the dice, and then read the word and color it in after they read it correctly! A fun one for partners!
Rainbow Write
Rainbow Write Sight Words
Rainbow write with 100 different sight words!
Box it up Sight Words
No Prep, Sight Word Practice Activity, Fun, Engaging
This one is EXCELLENT for Visual discrimination as students must match letter shape!
I hope this helps you make some sense of teaching sight words!



Saturday, September 3, 2016

5 Teacher Must Haves!

If you are a new teacher or even if you've been teaching for a bit you are sure to find something on this list to add to your amazon cart and make your teacher heart happy!  These are MY must have teaching tools. I use these products weekly if not daily in my classroom. They are worth whatever the cost!  I have included my affiliate links to Amazon, so they resources are easy to add to your cart!  These are great for just about ANY teacher though they are definitely geared towards K-6!


1. Flair Pens - one of my teaching partners inquired about my large assortment of flairs at our first planning day and I was shocked that no one had introduced her to Flairs! This perfect blend of pen and marker is every teacher's new BFF.  They come in every color you could ever want and a package usually lasts me all year with planning, grading and notes!  My mother had me addicted to these at a young age. They are the pens she uses in her HS classroom!
2. Dry Erase Boards - I could NOT teach without individual whiteboards for each of my students! I use them all the time for math, spelling, grammar, writing, sight words I could go on and on! Buying a little bit nicer ones to start out will save you time and frustration in the long run! My first year of teaching I bought the shower board and ended up buying nice ones the next year!!!
3. Post-it Chart Paper - I will admit this is a LUXURY for me as it is for most! I use my PTA money for this most years and am never sorry! I love being able to take my anchor charts and stick them just about anywhere! I also love this one with the easel!  When I present for our building or district I can take it with me to use!
4. Reusable Dry Erase Pockets - I love these so much! Invest in these and you will never run out of copies again!  I love using these for Work on Writing and Math Rotations. With the different colors you can also color code your groups for easy differentiation!
5. Crayola Power Lines Markers - Can I let you in on a little secret? I don't love Mr. Sketch Chart Markers! GASP! It's true! I have always struggled to get my anchor charts to look as good as I wanted until I was subbing and the teacher had these Crayola Power Lines Makers! OH MY GOSH! I love them!  And the black? No more stinky licorice, welcome Crispy Marshmallow!  Welcome to anchor chart happiness!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Word Work Ideas



Hiya! I don't know about you but while I LOVE word work it is ALWAYS my most difficult area of literacy stations/Daily 5 rotations to organize, manage, come up with new ideas. I am here to share Super fun and engaging word work ideas with you today as well as some organization ideas that will have you loving word work!  Instead of searching late Sunday night for "something" to throw in the word work station.  Or having to listen to the kids say "writing our words 5 times each is so boring" because you don't have anything for word work.  Or "rainbow write again?" because you only have that one activity your colleague shared with you. 

My word work consists of 3 main skill concepts. Practicing spelling words, practicing sight words, and reviewing/practicing/noticing spelling patterns.
But keeping it fresh and new can be a challenge!!
I like to give students a choice when choosing what activity to do during word work. I usually introduce 3 or 4 of the easiest ones the first week of school, one a day as we are practicing Word Work as a whole group. I then change out the ones that are skill specific each week, and add new ones and put away older ones to keep things fresh! There are some that never see the light of day some years, you know when you have THAT class?!?!?
But let's focus on the positive! I am positive that you will like at least ONE of these word work activities!
How many?
In this activity students write their word list and count how many vowels and consonants there are. This is great practice for focusing on vowel patterns with out students even realizing it! This is included in my Word Work for any list Activities

Rainbow Write Option 1 - sight words students trace each letter in rainbow order practicing their sight words. This is available individually in my store by clicking on the title.

Rainbow Write Option 2 - this is part of my Word Work for Any List activities. Students write all of their words in the red band in red, and so on.

10 Frame Words
Combine math and your word list! Students write their list and count how many letters and then fill in the ten frame, accordingly. This is included in my Word Work Activities for any list.

Words Sort - the students write each word in the box that corresponds with how many letters it has. Another one including a bit of math! This is another activity included in my Word Work Activities for any list.

ABC Order - great activity for any list which includes an alphabet line ON the paper!

Add it up! More math and words! In this activity students write their list, then write how much each letter is worth and add it up and write the total in the oval.

My Word Work Activities for any list also includes labels for drawers or containers!!!


To purchase a similar drawer click the affiliate link below.


All in all there are 15 activities in my Word Work Activities for any list for only $3.
You can save copies by laminating the activities or putting them in plastic sleeves to be used over and over!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016-2017 Room Reveal

Hiya! BEWARE! SUPER PHOTO HEAVY POST! My room is ready to go! I have spent so many hours working on it! I am super happy with the way that it turned out. I am teaching 6th grade ELA, Science and SS this year in an elementary setting. Being a lower primary person I had to work really hard not to make it too *cute*.
My room is done in black and white polka-dots and chevron with color accents.
It is the same as when I taught before.

The building is pretty old and there is a LOT of wood and really ugly floors! I can't paint so I had to make due! #reallife #notallteachersteachinabrandnewbuilding
This is my door with my Ribbon Curtain!

From corner opposite the door looking back towards the door.

Now lets go around the room starting at the door.
Shelves to the right of the door as you come in.
My ELA Focus Wall

My district uses Wonders but I have the freedom to pick and choose as long as I stay with our scope and sequence. My focus wall helps keep me on track and allows parents, administration anyone who walks in my room to know what our current focus is in ELA which is pretty important since I teach 2 sections of Spelling, Grammar and Reading. I switch with a partner across the hall and she teaches my students Math. We do our own Writing, Social Studies and Science.
The polka-dot and chevron border is Teacher Created Resources that you can get HERE. And the rainbow chevron herringbone is from Creative Teaching Press and you can get it HERE. It was the closest I could find to match my rainbow colors. The purple is really off but I'm trying to deal!
Writing Area and Shelves

Our writing goals clip chart is here and Punctuation Posters which I printed 2 to a page and Sentence Posters using the Big Kid Language from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
Non-magnetic white board

The voice levels are in my store HERE for FREE!!!!


This has my noise levels and calendar. I created my calendar myself to match. I made it in Photoshop and had it printed poster size at Office Depot.

Science Focus Wall

Since I taught Science for 5 years in 4th it's pretty close to my heart almost as close as ELA! On this board I put my Scientific Method Posters and What Do Scientists Do from my Teachers Pay Teachers store along with space for anchor charts to go along with our current subject.
Magnetic Whiteboard where my Doc Camera Projects
On this board I used THIS magnetic border and we have our Questions Chart on the right side which always shows even in projector screen is down. I HATE don't care for answering the same questions about assignments after I have given directions so I created this to magically solve the problem! Ok so not really but it does help A LOT! On the far right is our schedule and it also has my homework club. Otherwise this board is pretty blank - it's the one I use to write on so I need the blank space.
Social Studies Focus Wall

Our 6th grade Social Studies curriculum is World Geography. I divided this bulletin board into six sections for the continents we study (sorry Antartica). It has a map, the name, and landmarks which is part how we teach our units. The students will add dots/pins to the maps and facts as the year progresses. I think it will be neat to see it grow!
Built in Shelves and Windows

Library/Reading Nook

See the tutorial to make the READ marquee letters from a Monday Made it HERE.


Similar chair available HERE from Amazon (affiliate link)


This is my FAVORITE area in my room! As it should be right?

I have my Genre Posters up for reference and my Reading Strategies Posters.
Student Coat Hooks
Above the area is a narrow long bulletin board perfect for my cursive alphabet line! Alphabet line, border and the I put some of the lyrics to our class theme song "The Greatest" on the wall and more border above it.  

I hope this post has given you some ideas for your classroom and that yo have a GREAT year!