So — what do I actually DO with my kindergarteners and first graders when a sight word intervention is warranted??
Well, I use a fairly elaborate 10 step process for pushing those words into long term memory for the children. I’ll annotate my teaching process, so the thinking behind my work is clearer.
First off, choose your words — Choose them very carefully. Remember- we want high utility words. With the very earliest words (like my kindergarten friends who have virtually none) I want words that occupy the same place in syntax. In other words, I want to be able to make interchangeable sentences to push the reader into really attending to the sight words. My puppy. A puppy. The puppy. See my puppy. See the puppy. See a puppy.
I only teach 1 word a day with my youngest readers.
Model the correct spelling of the word on a chalkboard or whiteboard. Use large, clear letters in a contrasting color (eg. Bold black letters on a white board)
Use the word in a sentence orally to model the use of the word for the children.
Have the student place the practice paper on a screen, this is plastic canvas from the craft store. We use specially formatted paper for this. With red crayon, the child copies the teacher’s model onto the paper (which is still sitting on top of the screen). Ensure that the child is pressing hard with the crayon in order to create “bumps” for tactile experience.
Have the group of students raise their writing hands in the air and place on their opposite shoulder. (if you have left-handed students, you need to reverse this). With the hand that is free, students hold the red crayon word they have just written. Using the writing hand, students “arm spell” the word, moving down the arm and saying each letter aloud.
Students then “underline” the word by sweeping the hand from shoulder to wrist and saying the word Repeat 3x
Students place the paper on the desk and trace over the bumps with their index finger, verbalizing the letters as they work. Underline the word and say the word. Repeat 3x
Students place the screen OVER the word (partially obscures the word) and trace over the word with their index fingers. Say each letter as you trace it. Underline the word and say the word. Repeat 3x
Students flip over the paper and use a pencil to write the word without a visual cue. Check the child’s work before allowing them to write it the additional times (final product = 3x)
Dictate a super-short sentence using the word (2-4 words). Have the students write the sentence using a pencil on the sentence lines provided. My sentences are not really sentences at this point in the year. Things like “my mom” count as a sentence for me. The point here is to USE the word in writing.
Save the paper on a word ring for daily review and practice.
Then we review the words from the word ring each day.