Assessing and Differentiating Sight Word Recognition
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
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.)
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! 🙂
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!
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.
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:
Pin the image below to save this idea and share it with your teacher friends!
Thank you so much for stopping by and learning about how I organize and assess sight word recognition in my classroom!