High-frequency words are words that occur most frequently in written material and do not follow phonetic rules or, as we say in the EL Education curriculum, "don't play fair." Due to this fact, it is important that students are able to navigate these words with ease to improve their reading fluency and comprehension. While high-frequency words on their own don't carry much meaning, they are essential to sentences and help students gather meaning. Below you will find five activities for each day of the week that teachers can do with students or parents can do with their children at home as high-frequency words are being introduced cycle by cycle.
- Read it, say it, write it, read it again
- Use high-frequency words in sentences (oral and written)
- Read a list of high-frequency words and time yourself on fluency (keep running list)
- Search for high frequency words in sentences / poems and underline them
- Fishing for high-frequency words (one person reads the word aloud, other students find the word in a stack of other high-frequency words)
The instructional practices listed below summarize the instruction that accompanies the skills that are being taught in this cycle for the respective grade level. Teachers should review these routines for guidance on how to teach the skills and patterns reflected in the microphase.
- Phonemic Blending and Segmentation: Students focus their attention on isolating and manipulating sounds in specific words. This is an ongoing routine that supports students' ability to match the grapheme (letter) to phoneme (sound). Students use the thumb-tapping technique to segment and blend sounds together to make words.
- Writing the Letter to Match the Sound: Students use knowledge of phoneme segmentation to isolate and identify the initial, middle, and final sound in a word. As they identify each sound, they must connect it to its written representation (grapheme) and practice proper letter formation using a skywriting technique.
- Chaining (Decoding): Students read words from left to right, making each sound and blending them to pronounce the word. Students analyze groups of words by figuring out the letter sounds that have changed and the letter sounds that have stayed the same of the group of words taught.
- Chaining (Encoding): Students use their knowledge of letter-sound connections to spell written words. Students write letters using proper letter-formation guidelines that correspond to the correct spelling of the words they hear. They are encouraged to check their spelling against the teacher model.
- Engagement Text: Students use knowledge of phoneme segmentation to isolate and identify the initial, middle, and final sound in a word. As they identify each sound, they must connect it to its written representation (grapheme) and practice proper letter formation using a skywriting technique.
- Comprehension Conversation (optional): Students answer suggested (or similar) text-based comprehension questions about the engagement text.
High-Frequency Words: Students are introduced to the high-frequency words of the cycle. The teacher explicitly teaches all high-frequency words students will see in the Decodable Student Reader. Students decode and analyze each word to determine if the word is
"decodable" because it is regularly spelled, "doesn't play fair" because it hasn't been explicitly taught yet, or "irregular" because it is irregularly spelled.
- Decodable Reader Partner Search and Read: Students read a short text that incorporates words using familiar phonemes (sounds) and high-frequency words from the cycle, which students search out in the text with a partner before reading the text. Students receive practice with concepts of print (e.g., one-to-one match and return sweep) and apply knowledge of taught graphemes and phonemes as they decode words.
Cycle Word List
In this cycle, students work with short "a," the consonants "t," "p," "n," "h," "c," "s," "m," "r," "v," "g," and the digraph "th" to decode and encode a large quantity of words with two, three and even four (if students are ready) phonemes. The inclusion of "n" and "t" in this cycle allows for the introduction of the final consonant cluster "-nt." In addition, possessive's (for reading only) and plural noun "-s" are introduced. For the full cycle overview with word list, Cycle-at-a-Glance and teaching notes, download the cycle overview.
Engagement Text and Decodable Readers
The text listed below can be utilized to reinforce the skills taught in the cycle. Teachers can use the text to have students apply their learning during small group work or teacher-led groups. By focusing on the skills/patterns being taught, students can apply their learning to text. A list of activities to consider with the text are listed in the activity section.
Patricia is my baby sister. She is two. We call her Pat for short because "Patricia" is too hard for her to say. My Grandma says Pat is like a tornado because she leaves a mess wherever she goes.
Yesterday, while Grandma was making lunch in the kitchen, she let Pat play with some of the cooking tools. Pat loved the long spoons and spatulas. Then she found Grandma's colorful mixing bowls and shiny pots and pans.
She put a pot on her head like a hat. Then she put a smaller pan on her stuffed animal, Kitty the Cat. Pat and Kitty both had hats!
She turned some of the pans upside-down and tapped them like drums. Then she put Kitty in a big mixing bowl. She stirred the cat around with a mixing spoon.
While she was on the floor, Pat found an ant! She picked it up and let it climb all over her plump fingers. She giggled because the ant's legs tickled her skin. I helped her put the ant outside.
By the time our lunch was ready, the kitchen was a disaster!
"Oh Pat, my dear, you really are Grandma's little tornado, aren't you?" Grandma said. She kissed Pat's head.
She told Pat that she needed to clean up her mess. I helped her.
After playing in the kitchen and eating lunch, Pat was ready for a nap. She fell asleep holding Kitty the Cat in one hand and a spatula in the other.