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.
- 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.
- Poem: Articulatory Gestures: Students use articulatory gestures to support their learning of letters from the current cycle. The teacher might provide students (or partners) hand mirrors to see their mouth movements as they pronounce each phoneme.
- Interactive Writing: Students apply their growing knowledge of letter-sound connections to writing words by working on a shared sentence. Students apply their knowledge of high-frequency words and letter-sound knowledge to spell familiar words and also practice correct letter formation and punctuation.
- 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.
- 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.
- Assessment and Goal Setting (during cycle assessments): Students take on-demand assessments at the end of each cycle. Teachers score immediately to track students' progress and possibly revise their personal goals for the module accordingly.
Cycle Word List
In Modules 3 and 4, Kindergartners work on phonemic segmentation and blending and are introduced to decoding and encoding VC and CVC words, as well as words with digraphs. This cycle continues to focus on patterns introduced in prior cycles and introduces decoding words with double final consonants (example: moss).
The following list provides examples of words with patterns from this cycle. Note that the last five words include four phonemes (initial or final consonant blends). Students who are ready to segment individual sounds within spoken and written words with four phonemes can use words from this list (or similar). 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.
Josh is poking his nose around the alley, looking for dinner, when he sees something strange next to a trash can. It is taller than he is and shaped sort of like a person with no legs or arms. It is white with a red ring around its neck. “What could it be?” he thinks. “It looks sort of like a jug for water.”
Then Chip walks around the corner. “A bowling pin!” says Chip. “I snuck into the bowling alley once. They have some great snacks in there. Anyway, I saw a bunch of these. You set them up and roll a ball at them to try to knock them over.”
“Sounds fun,” says Josh. “Wanna try?”
They search for more pins. They find five—not a whole set but still enough to play. They set the pins up in the middle of their alley, just like Chip had seen at the bowling alley.
“What about a ball?” asks Chip.
“We can use a soccer ball!” says Josh. “I think it has a hole in it, so a kid threw it away in the trash can next to my rat hole yesterday.”
Josh rolls the ball over. It is a little flat, but it will work. Chip pushes the ball with his front paws as hard as he can. He only hits one pin.
“I can do better than that!” boasts Josh. He sets the pin back up with the rest. Then he rolls the ball back over and pushes it with all his strength. He hits two pins.
“I was just warming up,” says Chip. He sets the pins back up, rolls the ball over, closes his eyes, and pushes the soccer ball with all his might. Four pins tip over. The last one wobbles back and forth. Will it tip over? Yes! The fifth pin tips over. Chip is the winner.
“I will practice, and I will beat you next time. Now that we have our own bowling alley, we can play whenever we want!” says Josh.