Sight Word Lists

Just a quick check in from semi-snowy Wisconsin.  As documented earlier in this space, I’ve worked a lot the past couple of years on vocab lists and by this point have come up with five lists each of vocab words that I really believe in.  Each list has between 25-33 high-frequency words and that basically forms the core of my curricular sequence during any given quarter.

Well starting the second semester last week I decided that rather than start up another list to plug through, I would try and see how well everybody know the around 140 words we have had up to this point.  My line of thought was jarred by MJ’s comment a few weeks about about working with”Sight Words”, and I had my students rate themselves on how quickly they could recognize each word on this list.  Here’s an example:

I asked my students to rate each word on a scale of 1 to 5. Five means that they know the word immediately without thinking about it.  Four means that they can get it within three seconds without looking at the sentence.  Three means they need the sentence to jog their memory, but then they know it.  Two means they are still guessing a bit after reading the sentence, and One means that they don’t know the word.

After they do each set of words, though, they need to summarize their results by counting up how many words fell under the 5, 4 and 3 categories and writing down how many 2 and 1 words they had.  The summary looks like this:

Basically, these surveys give me a snapshot of where my students are right now and help me see which words I need to spend this semester reviewing.  So this semester I’m using this review list to target which sight needs require more work for my intermediate and advanced classes, and I think I’ll have my beginning students take the sight word survey at the beginning of next quarter to see where we are at finishing off the school year.

For those interested, here is a copy of the full file I created: Sight Word Survey.


2 responses to “Sight Word Lists

  1. Whoosh! I did it again…double blogged over a terrific post. Apologies to all, mostly Nathan.

    I’d like to copy this idea and use it at the beginning of the year for all the words I would expect a second-year kid to know, as well as the end of each semester for other classes. Since I’ve started on a rotation of structures that can cover four years (first year is solid; second through fourth is all at the same time), the only unchanging one would be the first year.

    Presenting structures in sentences makes it possible for kids to remember much better than if these had been individual words.

    Was it a lot of work to set up the form? I wonder whether one could do it as a form on line, and let the computer do the calculating and the listing for you.

    One more question (for now :-)) is: Did you really have 140 sentences? It seems as though that could be exhausting, both in terms of writing and in executing.

    I lied. Last one: Are your lists all solid as posted here? My list keeps changing over time, most recently to fit more with what the DPS list had on it. I’d love to look at yours again, and need to go looking for it. (Found it: here.)

    Now that I’ve gotten a little more solid on my own lists, I am posting my lists for the kids each quarter on their class web page.


  2. Nathan–
    This was a very helpful idea. Thank you. I am going to use it at the end of Feb. for all my students. Because we meet just once a week (and new students get added every 2 months) it will be important for me to also record as we do this how long they have been working with the language.
    Thank you again for a great idea!


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