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 Word Fishing: Students apply decoding (reading) skills and growing knowledge of irregularly spelled words to review the high-frequency words. Students begin the process of committing such words to memory by using known letter-sound connections and context.
- Question and Switch: Students apply growing knowledge of grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) connections and of decodable and high-frequency words by reading cards with graphemes or words, then switching with a partner to read a new one.
- Call and Response: Students apply growing knowledge of grapheme-phoneme connections to chant correlating graphemes (letters) to phonemes (sounds), phonemes to graphemes, and blend phonemes to make a recognizable spoken word.
- Interactive Writing: Students work together to construct a sentence, crafting a shared sentence from the decodable text or content from the Integrated Literacy block. Students spell words by segmenting the sounds (in sequence) of spoken words and match them to their letter(s). They also use rules of capitalization, spacing, and punctuation as they construct the sentence as well as practice high-frequency words.
- Reading Silly Words: Students decode (read) nonsense words in isolation and articulate the decoding strategy they used.
- Spelling with Style: Students spell words using patterns they have learned. They practice spelling words in a unique way, "with style" (e.g., like an opera singer or chicken), and then write them on their own whiteboard.
Cycle Word List
In this cycle, students work with the short vowel "u" using accumulated phoneme/graphemes from prior cycles with two, three, and even four (if students are ready) phonemes. This cycle introduces the partnering of "u" with "q" (as in /kw/ in "quit" and "quiz"). Short "a" and short "i" are reinforced and reviewed. This cycle allows for students to start to work with words with "-nch." 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.
Pat and I ran to the window. We opened up the curtain to look outside. The rain was pouring down.
"No park today," said Grandma.
Pat and I were disappointed. It had rained for three days straight. We really wanted to play at the park and have a picnic. But then Grandma had an idea. Let's have a picnic inside on the rug!"
We sat on Grandma's rug and pretended it was grass. Grandma turned on the lamp, and we pretended it was the sun.
Grandma went to the kitchen pantry and found our special lunch bags and put our lunches inside. Pat loves zippers, so Grandma let her help. Pat giggled as she zipped up the bags, then brought them to the rug.
Then Grandma said, "If you are very careful, I will let you use dishes on the rug, too." We thought this was a great idea! She brought us each a plate and a cup of fruit punch. Pat sipped fruit punch from her sippy cup. We were having so much fun already!
Next, Pat took her chips from the bag and dumped them all over the rug. What a mess! She tried to clean it up and the chips got all over her fingers. So she wiped her chubby hands on her pants. Now her pants were a mess, too! Grandma put the rest of Pat's lunch on top of a placemat so she wouldn't make more of a mess.
The chips made Pat thirsty, so she sipped some fruit punch from her sippy cup.
When we were finished eating, it was time for Pat's nap. Our picnic was so much fun that we forgot that it was raining outside! Pat grabbed blankie and kitty cat and fell asleep on the rug.