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 (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 are introduced to two more vowel teams that can represent the long "a" ("ay") and long "o" ("ow"). Days of the week words (example: "Sunday") are introduced for decoding (not encoding yet), and other two-syllable words are offered as an extension. 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 look at the calendar. Friday is Pat's birthday! She will be three years old. She says she will be a big girl. She can't wait!
On Monday, she says, "Today?" "No, not today," I say. I count with Pat on the calendar. "Four more days: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday."
The next day, Pat asks again, "Today?" "No, not today," I say. I count with Pat on the calendar. "Three more days: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday." I ask Grandma, "Do you think she will ask again tomorrow?" "Yes," Grandma nods with a smile.
I ask Pat, "What do you want for your birthday?" Pat claps her little hands and says, "Snow!" "But it is May, Pat. It does not snow in May," I laugh. "I make snowman on Friday! I play in snow," Pat says.
I take Pat to the window. I show her the warm rays of sun shining on the green grass outside. "There is no snow in May," I say. But I have a plan. Pat will have snow on her birthday.
It is Friday! Time for Pat's party. Today, Pat gets nice gifts with bows and cards. But no snow. There are balloons, too! But no snow. Grandma brings out her cake on a tray. Grandma always makes a cake for birthdays. On top of the cake is a fluffy snowman! But no snow.
Then I give Pat my gift. It is a bowl full of cotton balls! Pat claps her hands.
"Snow!" she cries. We play and play with the cotton ball snow. We blow it in the air. We make it into a snowman. "Snow for my birthday in May!" Pat says. We both laugh as we take a bite of Grandma's fluffy snowman cake.