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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Boosting Sight Word Fluency

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a training by Dr. Larry Tihen, who worked in my school district as the ESE coordinator.  He was an amazing leader and teacher and was always looking for ways to improve student achievement.  One of the tools he shared in this training was something called Rapid Word Recognition.  I had always done flashcards with my students, but was never sure it was worth the class time.  Dr. Tihen shared a method that is easy to implement and manage and requires 100% of your students to be engaged the entire time.  I don't know about you, but any time I can get 100% authentically engaged, I'm sold.  I've used this method in my Intensive Reading and now with my ESE students.  I thought I would share this with Blogworld.  Maybe, it will help you. :)

Step 1 - Select 3-5 words for each student in a group.  Make flashcards.  Preteach the words to this group. Once the students are familiar with the words, give each one 3-5 cards.  Practice with each child individually to make sure they know their words.

Step 2 - Once students know the words on their flashcards, it is time to start Rapid Word.  Select an area in the classroom large enough for the group to sit across from each other.  I have done this by having students sit on the floor and by positioning chairs.  I find the chairs help the students stay in their space, but it does require more set up time.  The diagram shows how my group is set up.

Step 3 - Students on whichever side the teacher chooses "teaches" and the students on the other side "learn".  "Teachers" begin by showing the first flashcard.  They say, "The word is _____.  What's the word?" "Learners" repeat the word.  This is done three times.  Then, students move on to the next flashcard.  Once all of the cards have been done, the "teachers" quiz the "learners".  If a "learner" misses a word, the "teacher" says, "Sorry, partner.  The word is ____".  Once the "learner" has read all of the words correctly, the students switch roles.

While the students are teaching and quizzing each other, the teacher works with students sitting where Student 1 and Student 2 are sitting.  The teacher should have flashcards that contain the next set of words students will be using.  This way, teachers are able to pre-teach upcoming sight words.  Once students know the next set of words, distribute these flashcards to students.  I try to limit the number of flashcards students are working with to 5-7.  So, whenever I add new words, I remove some of the words the students had. 

Step 4 - Once both sides have finished, students rotate to the next place. Students continue rotating until everyone is back where they started. 

The entire process should take no more than 10 minutes.  I have done Rapid Word Recognition during Centers with one group at a time.  I've also done it whole group.  When I do it whole group, I still break the students into smaller groups and then I rotate groups.  On the days that I am not in a group, a student sits in my spot and works with the person across from him/her.  If you have an even number of students in a group, remove the spot on the end.  If you have an odd number of students in a group, a student has to sit in the chair on the end.  That person is "Odd man out" and watches the other groups.

I would love to hear from anyone who has used this and how you've used it.  Or, if you try it out, I hope you share how it works for you.

Happy Blogging! 


  1. Gleny MizzDecember 6, 2012 12:11 PM

    Wonderful share. For me, our teachers should use flashcard as a teaching tool. I often use flashcard for my lessons. Howerver, I use flashcard app on web and mobile device.I create flashcards and share for my students after class. They review and pratice to remember them, then we check in the next class. We use Superflashcard and we like it. It has some interesting games for my students play and reminds them, we can do quiz and create flashcards with sounds and image. So I think we also usr the tool for our class.

  2. Amy G.December 6, 2012 5:54 PM

    I've never heard of Superflashcard. It sounds like a great site. I'll have to check it out. :)

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