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.
- Engagement Text: This text serves to pique students' interest in the Decodable Reader, introduced in Work Time B, by incorporating the topic and words from this cycle into an engaging read-aloud.
- Letter-Sound Chant: Students chant the names of letters and accompanying letter sounds in this ongoing routine (used in multiple lessons throughout a cycle) that reinforces taught graphemes (letter) and phoneme (sound) connections and keywords. This chant connects the keywords and phonemes in students' memories to support quick recall of phonemes for decoding and encoding.
Phonemic Blending and Segmentation: Students segment and blend single-syllable words with three phonemes. This practice continues to refine students' ability to focus on and analyze the sounds within words.
- Poem Launch: Students hear/read a poem that includes keywords for each letter introduced in the cycle. The verses incorporate new high-frequency word(s) and words that feature the cycle's new graphemes (letters) and phonemes (sounds). This poem is used throughout the cycle for different purposes.
Mystery Word (Clues to the Mystery Word and Introducing the Mystery Word): Students explore the already introduced poem for a new purpose: searching for a "mystery" high-frequency word. Students are given clues about the number of letters in the word and then search for words with the same number of letters, encouraging student inquiry. They also listen for a word as the teacher reads the words of the poem, clapping when they hear it. This practice is a vehicle for introducing Kindergarten high-frequency words that students will later see in poems and Decodable Student Readers.
Write 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.
Interactive Sentence Building: Students synthesize their ability to rhyme with their knowledge of letter identification by identifying a missing word in a poem and matching it to its representation in print.
Feel the Beats: Students explore the already introduced poem for a new purpose: to listen for and identify each syllable (beat) in a spoken word. They count the number of syllables in the spoken word, pronounce each one, and manipulate them by segmenting and blending. (Note: Starting in Module 3, this Work Time instructional practice transitions to a shorter, Opening practice.
- Chaining: Students begin by identifying each phoneme they hear in a CVC word and connect each of those sounds to the letter (grapheme) that matches it. Once they have encoded the word in this way, they then decode it by making each individual sound and blending them to pronounce the word.
Cycle Word List
In Modules three and four, kindergarteners work on phonemic segmentation and blending and are introduced to decoding and encoding VC and CVC words.
The following list provides examples of words that contain the patterns from this cycle.
Engagement Text and Decodable Readers
Jeffi opened the creaking door to find Anak and Watato sitting at a table, their faces resting in their hands. They looked sad.
The two children were sad because they had been to every kingdom. They had met every ruler and learned all about the animals that lived in each place. Now what would they do?
Jeffi patted their heads and said, “Your work is far from over, little boy and little girl.” He reminded them that they had learned about all the animals and what makes them special. They had also learned the letters that make up their names. Now they knew how to communicate with others by writing letters and words. They could put many words together and write whole sentences, even write a whole book!
Anak was sure about this one. He said, “Oh, the elephant is the biggest. He’s as big as a tree! He’s bigger than any creature I’ve ever seen!”
Jeffi told Anak and Watato that they should think back and remember all of the animals they have met. Remember which was the smartest, the most colorful, the most dangerous. Which could fly the highest?