Sight words are words that students are expected to memorize due to their high frequency appearance in texts, which is why they can also be referred to interchangeably as high frequency words. According to this article, being able to read the first 25 words on the Fry’s list will help students access ⅓ of all published items. Depending on the list, students may need to memorize up to 1,000 sight words and many will not conform to phonics rules. As a rule of thumb, students are expected to correctly recall the sight word within 3 seconds.
Note: Sight words are an important part of fluency, but I created its own section to accommodate teachers specifically looking for resources on this.
Teaching sight words – Memorizing how to read and spell high-frequency words is imperative to a student’s phonics foundation — especially since many sight words do not conform to phonics rules.
To find a list of high frequency words by grade level, you can refer to:
–Dolch high frequency sight words
–Fry high frequency sight words
Here is also a list of sight words in Spanish.
When evaluating using Dolch or Fry sight words, here is a breakdown of the differences:
Dolch High Frequency Sight Words:
-Established in the 1930s from studies in the 1920s (due to this fact, there have been numerous studies asking if the Dolch is outdated or still relevant)
-Initial list did not contain any nouns (later a noun list was added with 95 nouns)
-Contains 220 non nouns and 95 nouns
-Ordered by what high frequency words students would be reading by grade level
Fry High Frequency Sight Words:
-Published in 1996
-Contains 1,000 words
-Listed by order of frequency in groups of 100
-First 25 words make up ⅓ of published words, and first 100 words comprise ½ of published words
Depending on the group of students and the grade level, you can teach 2-5 sight words a week.
Teaching sight words requires memorization and repeated practice; however, it does not need to be boring!
Here are some engaging teaching strategies I recommend to teach sight words:
–Orton Gillingham Red Words Method – This is the method I use due to the multiple kinestic opportunities. Using a red crayon provides a visual cue that the word needs to be memorized. Tapping the word out rhythmically using the non writing hand on the writing arm provides auditory and kinesthetic clues. Students also like the texture of writing the words on the “mulit-sensory screens,” which can be bought as part of Orton Gillingham’s classroom set or as a sewing plastic screen on Amazon.
–Measured Mom Method – Is there anything Measured Mom hasn’t written a thoughtful post about? Here is another method to teach sight words using magnets, which are always a hit in my experience.
Sight words should also be on Word Walls, so that students can have access to sight words for spelling.
How to Incorporate Sight Words into the IEP Process
Assessment for Present Levels:
You can use the Fry or Dolch word list to inform present levels with either reading or spelling of sight words.
By annual review, student will be able to read and spell (insert grade level) level Dolch sight words with 80% accuracy on ⅘ trials based on teacher records and student work samples.
By annual review, student will be able to read and spell the first (insert number) of Fry sight words with 80% accuracy on ⅘ trials based on teacher records and student work samples.
Sample bilingual literacy goal:
By annual review, student will be able to read (insert grade) level sight words in English and Spanish with 80% accuracy on ⅘ trials as measured by teacher work and student work samples.
Sample Sample Accommodations:
- Access to sight words (word wall, word bank, flash cards, etc.)
- Additional opportunities to practice reading and spelling of sight words
Ideas for Centers/Activities
- Sight Word Swat – Students love this game! Students compete to see who can “swat” the sight word first that either a student leader or teacher calls out.
- Sight Word Games – This website has a variety of different methods to practice sight words.
Fry 1000 Instant Words: Free Flash Cards and Words Lists for Teachers. KY Schools. Retrieved on October 26th from https://www.kenton.kyschools.us/userfiles/12499/Fry%20Words/Fry%201000%20Instant%20Words%20links%20info%20and%20website.pdf
Bales, K. (2019, July 12). What are Fry Words? ThoughtCo. Retrieved on October 25, 2019 from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-are-fry-words-4172325
Sprenger, M. (2013). Wiring the Brain for Reading: Brain-based Teaching Strategies for Teaching Literacy. San Francisco: Wiley & Sons.
Vaughn, S. & Linan-Thompson, S. (2004). Research-Based Methods of Reading Instruction, Grades K-3. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.