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Assessing and Differentiating Sight Word Recognition

Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Sight words. Sight words. Sight words.
As a primary teacher, how many times a week do you think about sight words?
I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s a lot!
We know that in order for students to achieve quality fluency skills, they need to be able to instantly recognize sight words when they read. We start sight word recognition in kindergarten, and for struggling students, sight word instruction continues to be a need through fourth and fifth grade. Today, I’m not going to talk about how I TEACH sight words to my students. I’m going to talk about how I assess sight words within my classroom, so that I am differentiating all students’ words based on their individual sight word needs. So, if you’re looking for an easy and organized way to assess sight words, while keeping your sanity, you’ve come to the right blog post!
(If you are looking for sight word practice, you might want to check out some of my sight word curriculum, such as my Sight Word Reading Intervention Passages, Sight Word Fluency Practice Packs, and my Fry Sight Word Practice Spinners.)
Let’s get started!
You all know I am ORGANIZATION OBSESSED. I want my students to know exactly where to find things and exactly how to help themselves within our classroom. In order to do that, organization is a must. I put together a filing bin with 5 file folders. Each folder is labeled: Fry’s First 100 Words, Fry’s Second 100 Words, Fry’s Third 100 Words, Fry’s Fourth 100 Words, and Fry’s Fifth 100 Words. In the future, I may add words 600-1000, but for now, this is where we start!
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Inside each file folder are copies of word list sets (see picture below) that my students can practice during word work. (If you want to learn about what my students do during word work,  my word work organization post and my differentiated word work post will be helpful.) The students work their way through each set of 10 words until they have mastered the entire list of 100 words. Then, they will move onto Fry’s Second 100 Word List, and so on, until they have mastered all 500 words in our filing bin. To keep myself (and the kids) even more organized, I print the word lists for each folder on different colored paper. Sometimes, I find that it’s easier for my students to say “I’m on the pink words,” instead of “I’m on Fry’s First 100 Words” haha!! You can see below that the word lists are a half-sheet of paper, making it more efficient for class copies.
Sight Word Recognition Editable Templates - Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
In my classroom, we have a bulletin board titled “My Word Work.” If I shrink the word lists down a bit, they fit perfectly into these library pockets! The picture below is an older picture and my students or myself would write the words on the list themselves. Now, they just stick whatever word list they are practicing into their library pocket, and that is where it is stored. When it’s time for word work time during Daily 5, the student simply grabs his or her list, and gets started practicing, using our various word work materials and activities for the week.
How To Differentiate Sight Word Recognition: Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
In my “Making Word Work Powerful” post, I explain that while students are working on a word list, they also get to decide on two or three words from “anywhere in the world” that they want to learn how to spell. These student-chosen words can be written on the back of the word lists, or at the bottom of the word list they are working on.
Differentiating and Assessing Sight Word Recognition: Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Inside the Sight Word Filing Bin, are also copies of the sight word assessments that I will use once the student has mastered his or her word list.  As you can see below, these assessment lists are SIMPLE, NO-FUSS templates.  The student simply brings me or my parent volunteer (or a partner) their assessment list when they are ready to take their “test.” He or she reads the word list and the teacher checks off the words he or she instantly recognizes. There is a space at the bottom of the template to mark how many correct words the child identified. Sometimes (if the student needs it), I will even point to the words randomly on the list so that students cannot simply “memorize” the word list order. 😉
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Once the child has mastered reading (or spelling – you choose!) all ten words on their word list set, the student colors in the cute, coordinating game board to keep track of his or her progress. Yes, you read that right. The STUDENT keeps track of his or her progress. I’m all about student-led initiatives and student-led data.  It helps the student take pride in his or her progress and holds the child accountable.  This is much more meaningful and powerful than if I kept track of the grades myself.  (However, if you do desire a whole-class progress tracking form, this pack has editable pages for you.)
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Here is a closer look at what the game boards look like. We keep them in our Daily 5 folders, and after a student has reached the finish line on their game board, they get to take it home to share with their parents! You could also make a cute bulletin board out of these, however, I prefer the students to keep their sight word progress private, as this is an individual challenge that they get to work at and conquer! 🙂
Student Friendly Tracking Sheets for Sight Word Recognition - Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Once the child has reached the finish line on his or her game board, I send home a Congratulations Certificate! The pack includes black and white “printer friendly” certificates, and a color version.  The students love collecting as many certificates as they can throughout the school year!
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
The various word lists allow my students to work at their own pace. Students are not limited by a word list the entire class is practicing. Differentiating, although we know it is necessary  can be tough! Here are a couple of questions you may be asking yourself regarding how I manage all of this:
“When do students practice their word lists?”
Students practice their word lists during Daily 5 time when they choose “Word Work.” They also act as fast finisher activities. Students can grab their word list from the bulletin board or their folders and practice the words when they finish an activity early. They can also keep the word list in the back of their Take Home Folder to practice at home each night.
“When do students take their sight word assessments?”
I’ve honestly changed the day and time (and how) I assess sight words every year in my room! This often varies depending on our schedule from year to year. I found that the easiest way for me to keep up with the assessments is to allow students to take their sight word assessment tests on Fridays. I’ve done this two different ways: I’ve set aside one round of Daily 5 time on Fridays and used it as “Assessment Time.” This could mean sight word assessments or other report card and district “one-on-one” assessments I need to accomplish. However, the EASIEST way, and the one I will stick to in the future, is to get a parent volunteer, or an aide, available for just 20-30 minutes every Friday during Daily 5 time. This seems to be enough time for all students to get assessed (since the word list only has 10 words at a time, it goes FAST!!!).  The student brings the teacher the assessment list and reads it while the teacher checks off the ones that were read correctly. Then, since the STUDENT is the one doing the tracking, she simply sends the child off to color in their game board, OR, tells the student “That was a great try. You are working hard. Keep practicing and we will try them again next time!”  (Sometimes, if I have a few minutes during morning work time, I’ll also have kids read their lists to me.  Truly, it is a QUICK process!!!)
All of the materials explained in this blog post can be found in the pack below:
Click HERE or click on the picture below to check it out in my shop.
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
I also have a money-saving BUNDLE pack that includes the Sight Word Assessments & Word List pack AND my coordinating Sight Word Spinners that your students can use to practice their word lists in a fun, engaging way!
Find the bundle pack by clicking HERE or clicking on the picture below:
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!
Pin the image below to save this idea and share it with your teacher friends!
Assessment and Differentiation for Sight Word Recognition: Organization and classroom management ideas to make sight word assessment and practice simple and easy for teachers AND students! These sight word activities are student-friendly and help students master the first 500 Fry sight words!

Thank you so much for stopping by and learning about how I organize and assess sight word recognition in my classroom!

Happy Learning,

Christina

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17 Comments

  1. I love this! I have been wanting to differentiate sight words and I'm going to give this a try. I'm wondering if you have a word wall in your classroom. With students studying different word lists, what words do you include on your word wall? How do you introduce and practice words that you place on the word wall? Thank you!
    Maria (meemsickle@gmail.com)

  2. Uh oh! I need some harder words. Do you think you will be adding the next levels? This will work for most of my students but I would love my advanced kiddos to continue.

  3. Do students continue to work on words they have already mastered (like having many lists in their library pocket) or do they only practice one word list at a time? Thanks! I just might need this

    1. You can do it either way you would like! Mine work on one list at a time but you could certainly keep more lists in the pocket if you’d like. 🙂

  4. I really like this idea? Do the students have to know all of the words on a list before moving to the next one? For example, what if they can identify all but 3 out of 10 words on their list? Thanks for your help!!

  5. Hi I love these! I’ve been searching for a quick and easy way to assess that is also student led and differentiated! How do you introduce new weekly sight words/teach sight words if students are all on different sets of lists? Currently we intro a few new words a week for the group to work on but I am not sure how we could do that if students are all working of various lists at their level?

    1. Hi Kellie! Great question. I still introduce new words each week based on my district’s spelling program that we use. (We use Fundations.) We think of our word work time as practice time for our sight words. My students are all still tested on spelling specific sight words during our mandated spelling tests. You will probably find this blog post really helpful as far as how I introduce new sight words to the group: https://www.missdecarbo.com/helpingstudentswithsightwords/

  6. I really love this idea! Not sure if the comment I made before saved forgive me if this is a repeater! As a third grade teacher I typically have a good handful come to be below grade level. (Sometimes two levels or more behind) My question is do you use a special test to see where they should start ( if they have trouble with blends etc) ? How do you incorporate their specific struggle into this system?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Brittany! If I’m using the resource for identification only, I use the master list and have the students start reading at the first word. Once they start missing a word or two, I know that that’s the list to start them at. For spelling purposes, I start them from the beginning but you could certainly pre-test them with the master list, too. If you search my blog for “sight words” in the upper left-hand corner, I have lots of information that will help students who struggle with specific weaknesses in sight word fluency. I hope this helps!

  7. This is exactly what I have been looking for in order to differentiate my sight words! I teach a 1/2 combo and have some very low firsties and some very high second graders so finding something that could meet all their needs and not take me forever to create is amazing! Thank you! I have one question about your word work station. Do you also teach spelling patterns/phonics and include weekly spelling words in your word work station as well?? I am trying to figure out how I can do both spelling patterns AND sight words in word work without taking up too much time. I only have a 90 minute ELA block and need a way to allow students to work at their own pace. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! TIA!

    1. During this time of the day my students only work on sight words independently. Our phonics and spelling pattern instruction is at a different point in our day. Our district uses the Fundations phonics program.

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