Sight words also known as high frequency words have become the new math fact drill cards. It is TIME FOR CHANGE. The kill and drill word cards children see on the word wall, in a container to read through, and a teacher showing those words the same way she might show math facts, need a relook. Yes, all that has its place. However, more relevant, fun, and being intentional about who really needs the work on sight words, will give you more time and simplicity in your lesson delivery.
I see many activities on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers which require A LOT more work for teachers. I’m all about simple and applicable for learning outcomes.
Imagine leaving at the end of the school day without worrying that when you return in the morning you’ll be cutting out 80, thousand word cards, finding a way to store them, display them, and keep them intact for the remainder of the school year!
Imagine students who are your least engaged, least active, least interested reversed!
3 simple ways to teach sight words without extra time, stress, or cursing:
- Keep the learning relevant and within context: Within the book preview/picture walk have students locate, point, and say up to 5 sight words you want them to have in their knowledge base. Say, “Find the word would, point to it and say it! Find it fast! These are words you need to know and read fast!” Continue the cycle through the sight words you have included for the lesson. Have students find any sight words from the book in multiple places in the book, wherever they show up. This is woven through the lesson. After reading, have a quick writing activity where the students write those very same sight words, say, “Write would, fast, as fast as you can!” (also provides a dose of fun, let them refer to the book or the list you may have written for additional support as they are learning them because you want to support that easy learning)
- Make it fun: Bring in the magnifying glasses from the science room, bring out the froo froo pointers, have the tongue depressors from the nurses office or your craft supplies with and arrow drawn on them for finding those words. Pens, erasers, pencils, straws, spoons, twigs, thin paint brushes or anything really that is slim could be used as a pointer, all while adding a bit of fun to it. And, very little fuss or prep on your part. Simple.
- Do not sight words teach unless necessary: There will only be certain students who need sight words woven into their reading lessons. Your top readers, your fluent readers, your strategic readers, your successful readers won’t need this as part of their lesson. Don’t waste your time and energy doing this for them. Focus on the ones who truly need it for more strategic reading!
I had a coaching session with Sue B. Zimmerman. Sue had success as an entrepreneur early in her life. She had an impetus within her as well as a model in her dad, who was a business owner. Sue loves talking with and helping people. She has grown into a huge success through her Instagram knowledge, activity, and courses.
I am in process of learning a new career path which is an off-shoot of my years of experience as an educator, which included roles of Reading/Literacy Specialist, ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher, LAT (Language Acquisition Team) facilitator, Reading Recovery teacher, and Literacy Coach. At the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I am seeking support to grow. I realize more and more each day the importance of a coach, a group of people who are like-minded; building their own brand, striving for success within their chosen market as well as getting noticed, heard, and sharing my mission.
Sue advised me to share my mission. She also suggested I get up every morning with the mantra, “Enjoy the process,” because it would be a long haul and success would not be overnight, it would be a build over time, that people would not trust me right away. In the spirit of my time spent with Sue and a gun-shot to the beginning of my run on this marathon, here is my mission statement as of right now: To kick your a** with love, into learning and understanding the underlying principles and plays that every teacher of early/primary grades/ages needs to know for teaching reading. To inspire your mindset about education so that you can advocate for yourself, your students, and what ignites the fire in you.
The mission statement is born of my own experiences, observations, and on-going passion for education. When I left my undergraduate program, I had very little understanding of what to do to teach reading or how to go about it. I had less knowledge of the underlying structures of reading for young readers. My graduate program offered much more, however, I left with lots of ideas, content, lesson planning, and strategies with little idea of how to sequence and connect it all.
After my years in the trenches, it is apparent that teaching reading has become a publisher’s job. Educators in undergraduate and graduate programs, are gaining little knowledge of how to teach reading, when is the best time to deliver reading instruction, the various road blocks, the physical and developmental milestones and considerations of readers, and how to focus on what a student “can do” versus instructing from data to teach to what the child “can’t do” or “needs to do”. The game of catch-up, meet this benchmark, or why can’t this student do this need to die, immediately. Learning is a process, not an endpoint.
The latter half of my mission about advocating and seeking what ignites comes from my sheer disgust and dismay about what has been slowly creeping into schools and education: data-driven instruction, endless assessments, diagnoses of ADD, ADHD, and others, lack of teacher support, lack of teachers speaking up for what they know and see happening and more, for sure. A current passion point is gender differentiating. I believe teachers gaining a better understanding of what boys need in school vs what girls need in school would benefit all – and potentially reduce ADD/ADHD diagnoses.
Well, perhaps yes, for the moment you are the best you can be. However, you know it is possible to become better. In the book “Mindset” by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. writes based on a quote she recalled from the 1960’s, “Becoming is better than being.” There is always room for growth, and sometimes that growth is uncomfortable, unimaginable, or unwanted. In order for you to up your value, your confidence, and the delivery of your best to your students or children, you must require more of yourself.
Here are 3 action steps:
Get outside of your building, your bubble, and those same voices:
Instead of attending your district or school professional development seek outside options. Connect with another teacher or professional that sparks a fire in you. A person who piques your interest for learning. Observe a teacher in another school, another district, another city, town, province, or locale. The new learning and excitement that you could potentially take away from that experience could majorly fuel you! It is also a growth opportunity for you, a leadership quality to hone; present your new gained knowledge with colleagues, friends, families of your students, and administration.
Which teacher outside of your own building would you go observe? What workshop or training would you love to attend?
Get connected to a different type of professional, other than a teacher
I attended a presentation recently, delivered by a developmental optometrist. He opened my eyes to why some students may struggle with reading. That sight and vision are not synonymous. That some children may require vision therapy to read. All these years as a Reading Specialist, and Reading Recovery Teacher and I had no idea about this! I drank it in and scheduled observation time with him, I asked him to recommend further reading (recommended books: Smart in Everything Except School, by G.N. Getman, OD., D.O.S. and Piaget’s Theory in Practice Thinking Goes to School by Hans G Furth and Harry Wachs) for me to better understand how I could help my students, and soon, he will be presenting to my colleagues on this topic. I am not aiming for expert, I’m shooting for growth and continued excitement and curiosity for my teaching practice.
What “outside” professional could you learn from or observe?
Attend new groups or create the group you want
With social media at your finger-tips, getting involved, or exploring groups to feed your desires, is a must do! I’ve been joining all kinds of groups lately meeting people from all kinds of professions who are curious about what I do and I’m learning about what they do.
I’ve also attended some educational groups where I’m learning so much about various operating systems in districts; technology, publishing companies, reasons districts will or won’t buy products or programs.
Just recently I joined a luncheon hosted by a local community program because a recent new person I met, through another group, mentioned it to me. There were plenty of real estate professionals and lawyers, and, surprise, professionals who work with children! I had the joy of talking with many of them and now I’m in contact with them getting ready to create a group with them!
What group do you want to be a part of?
Share what charges you up!
Where is your fire?