Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sight Words: The Bane of my Existence!

So, I hear that some teachers don't ever take any work home. I'd like to meet those teachers, and find out their magic trick. Do you have an elf in your pocket that gets everything done? My "to-do" list just gets longer and longer as the year goes on, and I am still looking for that elf.

As for me, every weekend - well almost every weekend - I celebrate Schoolwork Sunday.  Oh yeah, it's quite a party...complete with confetti (scraps from cutting out laminate), paper products (oh, the papers to grade!), and delectable delights like sight words.

Ugh. Sight Words.

They have become the bane of my existence.

In my district, our first graders are expected to learn 600 by the end of the year. No, you read that right, 600. We used to teach to 220, but now it's 600.

I've had teacher friends in other places ask me how we teach these,and how we keep up with the data.

Enter sight word rings...
Oh, it's not anything new. Billions of teachers use sight word rings every year in their classrooms. It's just that it's the only way I have figured out to teach these things, and honestly, it works.

So, every two weeks, I test all 24 kids on their words, and make new sight word rings. Each child has different words to learn, so they all have to be different.
 I use their data charts to know exactly what words to put on their ring, and then sit down with my hand-dandy crayola markers and go to town.
Each child has a sight word card on the front of their ring.
The words are color coded by each group of 100.  I write the words in those colors, so they know exactly what group of words they are working on.
They earn a check mark and a prize for each group they learn.
 This all happens until we hit 600.

After that point, I figure they don't need individual words on rings, but I don't want the kids to stop learning new words, so I put lists on rings.

Now, I'm not one to reinvent the wheel if I don't absolutely HAVE to, so when I found these lists of 1-1000 words, I was a happy happy camper.
Again, I go with the color code. It helps me, and it helps them know what list they are working on.

Each group of 100 is broken down into 25-word lists. (Click {here} for the lists)

I cut those apart and laminate (well, not in this picture..haha).
I am in LOVE with these lists...  the kids that have moved past 600 still like having a ring, but it has eliminated the work of individual cards.

And, like I said, it works.
 This little one knew 102 coming into first grade....
And as of last week, he was 543!  Woo hoo!  See? A party, indeed!

I keep track of the data with a very sophisticated antiquated system that looks like this...
As you can tell, I have kiddos that range from less than 100 words to more than 600... 

Which is why I do it. I don't know any other way, and it seems to be working :)

But, this is the first year working with this many words, and using the lists for more than 600, and I'm wondering if lists would work for the first sets.  

Here's where YOU come in - what do YOU do?  How many words do YOU have to teach?
I'm open to suggestions, friends.... 

Right now, my plan is to make these lists a little cuter (I can't help myself sometimes!), but with 37 days left of the school year (Woo hoo! Again with the party!), I'm sticking with what I've got :)

As for HOW we teach them, it's a huge partnership between home and school, and lots of embedded text in guided reading. It's part of the kids' nightly homework, and the sight words are supposed to "live" in their folder, so they can take them out whenever they finish early or have a little extra time.

Again, if you have suggestions, give me a shout!

So, that's it, friends. Keepin' it real for you today...
Leave a comment & let me know how you do it... and as always, thanks for stopping by!


  1. I love this idea! I have been looking for a better way to teach sight words and letters (I teach kindergarten) and I think that this is the way I want to go. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Daisy Days for Learning

  2. One more reason I am glad to be teaching second grade! (Private school, so our students are probably a bit advanced, but when I switched from sixth to second I had to ask if they could read yet! Thankfully, the answer was yes!)

    I think your system is great, and I am bookmarking it just in case I ever need to do something similar. Fingers crossed I won't!

  3. Seriously 600? Who came up with that? Good gracious. No words.

    I'm really not sure the "specific" number my kinders are supposed to know. We just do a lot. I have some that know 3 and some that know more than 60 or more. We don't really do lists (I will next year--b/c I need a better way to keep up!) This helps girlie. Thanks.

    Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten

  4. 600?!?! Wow! That's a lot! I think your system is great though!
    Primary Buzz

  5. It might not be super fun for you, but you have a great system.
    I'm going to check my kiddos now! I usually do words per minute and comp checks- not sight words, but now I am curious!
    Thanks for laying it all out for everyone.

  6. Wow! 600 is overwhelming! We use a list of 136 words (Pre-Primer, Primer and 1st Grade Dolch lists with a few others thrown in). This has been very achievable for most students, so I created AMAZING Words to keep my readers growing. I wrote about it in my blog . I think you are doing a great job tracking all of your students' learning, though! Thanks for sharing your system!

  7. Holy Cow! 600 is a lot. We don't really have a number where I am at now. At my other district it was 200 High Frequency words by the end of first. Where I am at now it is 220 Dolch that we as a grade level required and the one hundred and eighty something High Frequency words that went with the curriculum but most overlap with Dolch. I like your method since it doesn't keep everyone at the same level. How in the world do you get them tested every 2 weeks? I have 27 students and I would have to have a volunteer do it, AMMAAAZZIIINGGG! Thank you for the links to the materials.

  8. Can you please post your data sheet? This is a great way to progress monitor! Thanks!


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