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.
- Magnanimous Magician: Students learn that CVCe words make long vowel sounds. They discover that the "e" is "magic" because it changes the vowel sound from short to long. Students listen for the vowel sound and spell words using their letter-sound knowledge.
- 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 another spelling pattern for long vowel sounds: "silent e" (CVCe). Because this is the first of four cycles that work with this pattern, the focus in this cycle is on one-syllable words. The cycle begins with words without consonant blends, then moves to words with consonant blends. It is an "'a' heavy" cycle, in that most words are "a_e," although the pattern is applied to other vowels as well. One-syllable words with easy suffixes (example: "-s") that do not require dropping the "e" are used. The rule about adding a vowel suffix to a silent "-e" word (where the "e" must be dropped as in "bake" to "baking" or "baked") is offered as an extension, but is introduced explicitly later in the module. 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.
James is Sam's friend from school. Sam invites him to go on a camping trip. This is his first camping trip. Sam and Dad want to show James all there is to see in the forest.
It is a nice day for a hike! Dad finds a path around the lake. As Dad and Sam and James walk in a line under the trees--
acorns crunch under their feet,
a squirrel chatters from a tree,
a bird chirps from the sky,
a deer peeks out from behind some leaves, and
a dragonfly whizzes by.
James says, "There is so much to hear and see in the forest!"
They cross a bubbly stream. A snake squiggles across the path. James has never seen a snake in real life before. He is a little scared. He says, "Are we safe from the snake?" Dad says, "Yes, we are safe."
They jump over a big log. A hive of busy bees hides inside. James is afraid the bees might sting him. He says, "Are we safe?" Dad says, "Yes, we are safe."
The path leads back to the lake. It is time to take a rest. Dad says, "We will stop here at the fire pit and make a fire. You can help me find sticks, but I will make the fire. That way, we will all stay safe!"
Sam and James find some sticks and put them in a pile. Then Dad helps them make a flame. "Look," says James, "we made a fire! This is just like the fireplace at Grandma's house."
Dad and Sam and James sit by the fire and talk about their day. James says, "Today in the forest I saw a chattering squirrel, a chirping bird, and a peeking deer. I saw a dragonfly, a squiggly snake, and a hive of busy bees. And I helped make a fire!" James looks at the flames. "This feels like home. And I feel safe." Then James smiles. "Let's go camping again soon!"