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.
- Vowel Sounds: Students segment and blend words with short and long vowel sounds. They begin to identify the types of vowel sounds they hear by analyzing the spelling of the word as well as the syllable type.
- Syllable Sleuth: Students decode (read) words with different vowel sounds (short, long, r-controlled). They identify the number of syllables in words and break words apart by syllable. Students use their knowledge of vowel sounds to determine where to break the word apart by syllable.
- 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.
- 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.
- Spelling to Complement Reading: Students work through a series of scaffolded steps to successfully spell words from the current or past cycles. They first isolate and identify the individual phonemes (sounds) in the spoken word, then apply their growing knowledge of letter-sound connections to identify the grapheme (letter) that matches each individual phoneme (sound). Finally, they use that information to encode (spell) the word.
- Sort It Out: Students sort words into groups with the same sound and connect them to the letters that represent those sounds. Students analyze words by comparing and contrasting parts of words and sorting them into the correct category.
- 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.
- Assessment and Goal Setting (during cycle assessments): Students take on-demand assessments at the end of each cycle. Teachers score immediately to track student progress and possibly revise their personal goals for the module accordingly.
Cycle Word List
In this cycle, students are introduced to long vowel sounds via the spelling pattern of an open syllable. The cycle begins with single-syllable words and then moves to two-syllable words by pairing an open syllable with a closed (example: "mo-ment") or with another open syllable (example: "he-ro"). Instructing students on how to use vowels in two-syllable words to identify the syllable type and decode is begun in earnest. This opens up a large number of words that students can access in reading and writing. Inflectional endings to show plural nouns and verb action are continued. 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.
I helped Granddad sweep acorns and fall leaves from the big front porch. That made Granddad happy. He said, "Close your eyes and open your hand." He gave me some money! Then I had an idea that would make Pat happy too.
I found Pat out back. I said, "I have a secret surprise for you, Pat, and it begins right now. Close your eyes, and let's go!" I held her hand.
We walked down the sidewalk to the corner. I stopped at a shop, and I opened the door. Pat was right behind me. "Smells yummy," said Pat. I said, "Open your eyes. The secret is the donut shop!"
Pat clapped her hands and ran inside. I got a muffin from the bin. I asked Pat, "Do you want a bagel or a donut?" Pat looked at my muffin. She was silent for a moment. Then she said, "A donut!"
She got a donut from the bin and held it up. "Look, it's a circle. Like a zero!" she smiled. But then the donut fell out of her hand and landed on the floor. Pat was so sad.
The baker came around from behind the counter. He said, "Pat, close your eyes and open your hand." Then he gave her a new donut. The baker was her hero! Pat was glad and said, "Thank you."
The baker had a big grin. Pat had a big grin. I had a big grin. Now I didn't have to buy Pat a new donut. The baker was my hero too!