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.
- 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.
- 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 Editing: Students apply their growing knowledge of letter-sound connections to edit a shared sentence from the decodable text or content from the Integrated Literacy block. They apply the rules of spelling, capitalization, spacing, and punctuation to edit the sentence.
- 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 continue to build knowledge of the r-controlled syllable type by introducing "r" to the vowels "e," "i" and "u," altering their sound (/@r/). Students also work with "-er" as a "doer" suffix (example: "fixer" - a person who fixes). The cycle begins with one-syllable words and then moves to two-syllable words by pairing an r-controlled syllable with a closed or open syllable type. 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.
Sam's teacher gathers the class together in a circle. She says, "I have good news! Our class will perform a play. The play will be about an old farmer and his farm."
The kids are glad, and they begin to chatter about what roles they want to play. James wants to be the old farmer. Nell wants to be the banker. The teacher explains that first they have to try out for roles in the play.
But Sam is shy. He thinks, "What if I get embarassed on stage? What if I trip over the set?" He does not want to perform in the play.
Sam tells Dad he wants to be part of the play, but he does not want to be onstage. Dad thinks about it. "Sam, you still can help. You can use your hammer!" Sam smiles. "I will not be a performer. I will help make the set. That will be much better!"
Sam and the kids work hard to get ready for the big night. Nell is working on her lines. James works, too. All the kids help out. Sam hammers. He gathers parts for the set. He makes it look like a farm!
Sam hurts his finger with the hammer. "Ouch!" he says out loud. The teacher takes time to look at his finger. "It will be okay," she says. "Thanks," Sam says.
The set is ready. The kids know all their lines. Now it is time to perform! Sam is in the corner. He helps with the set. The kids perform their parts.
When the play is over, the teacher gathers the kids together in a circle. She says, "I am so proud of all of you. You worked hard and played an important part to make the play super!" Sam says, "My hammer worked hard, too!" All the kids giggle.