Developing Reading Skills through Sight Words

Sight words are words that are recognized by sight, without having to sound out, use picture clues, or use other strategies to figure out them out. Sight words efficiency enable the student to read with greater fluency. An over dependence on phonics and “sounding out” greatly hinders fluency, which in turn affects reading comprehension.

Effective teaching approaches insure that sight words are mastered. These strategies include giving only a few stimulus items (words) at a time, high repetition rates (exposing frequently to words) and high density reinforcement (giving activities with the words repeated several times, and using picture-word associations can help the student to become fluent in sight word recall.

Sight words should be taught in the context of reading activities and not “drilled.” Make up games, use the words in stories, highlight them on language experience charts, etc. Many games have been devised by different teachers. An Internet search can locate many new ones.

Below are a few examples of games that help the student master sight words:

Show Me
Place words on the floor or on a table. Call out a word, then choose a child to “show me” and use it in a sentence.

Word Hunt
Pass out books, magazines, or newspapers. Show the children a word, then ask them to find it in print.

Line Up
Pass out a word to each child. When you call out their word, they may line up or move to a new activity.

Games
Use sight words in file folder games and card games such as “Go Fishing,” “Bingo,” “Concentration,” etc.

Bang
Word cards are in a can. The student picks a card and reads it out loud. If he is correct he can keep the card, and it is the next student’s turn. The object is to have the most cards at the end of the game. “Bang” is written on some cards. When a student chooses Bang he has to read BANG in a nice loud voice and put ALL of his cards back in the can. There is always lots of laughing and anybody can win, not just the best reader. “

Following is a sample of a list of sites from an online search that addresses sight word games and teaching techniques:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/wordsandpictures/hfwords/starwords/index.shtml
http://www.quia.com/cc/82399.html
http://www.netrover.com/%7Ejjrose/testspell/spell12js/index.html
http://www.netrover.com/%7Ejjrose/dolch/intro.html
http://www.homebase8.net/dolch/intro.htm

Students are impressed with technology such as Power point presentations. Any teacher with a rudimentary knowledge of power point will have no problem creating a presentation.

Directions for developing a power point presentation:
Have three slides to help students be prepared: “Get ready,” “Set,” “Go!” This extra time allows the students to be ready to read.
Center the sight words.
Keep each slide consistent in appearance.
Use a large font to avoid eye strain.

Dolch Phrases:
As an extension, create a presentation with Dolch phrases. Begin with two words on a slide. Then increase to three or possibly four words.
Assessment: Provide a pretest of students’ sight word recognition before using the PowerPoint presentation. Then conduct a post-test after several practices.