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How do you teach sight words?  Can you still teach sight words? What are your favorite ways to teach sight words?   These are questions I get asked a lot and questions I see in Facebook groups and on social media every day.  So, here’s my answer to teaching sight words:  SIGHT WORD 60!   And yes, sight words are allowed and yes, they can be taught using the science of reading-aligned strategies.   The science of reading does not say we can’t teach sight words.  It simply means we approach sight words with more strategies and tools.
 
 
 
 

Where Did Sight Word 60 Come From?

So, you see, what had happened was, I stunk at teaching sight words.  We did all kinds of random things and we never had a direction and plan for teaching sight words.  And by we, I mean me.  The kids were just along for the ride!   My students always did ok and learned some words but they didn’t retain the words well and I just knew there was a better way.  I knew I was failing my students and wanted to fix it.

And thus was born Sight Word 60 and yes, Sight Word 60 IS aligned with the science of reading.

What Is Sight Word 60?

The premise of Sight Word 60 is that in the course of a school week, 5 days, students get more than 60 exposures to each high-frequency word and that happens in just a few minutes each day.  No long lessons.  Limited prep.   A few high-impact, engaging minutes to teach high-frequency words so they become sight words.  The goal is for all high-frequency words to become sight words and Sight Word 60 is how we make that happen!   Plus students also get practice decoding the words so they’re getting multiple tools and strategies for being good readers.  

YES!  Decoding sight words is possible and should be used along with automaticity. This is so important because the research tells us that decoding is the most efficient way to build automaticity.  Students need to decode a word 1-8 times, according to research.  Since Sight Word 60 gives you more than that we’re providing the necessary practice so that the words can be orthographically mapped into students’ memory.    All this said, sight words aren’t bad.  Teaching automaticity with sight words isn’t bad.  What’s important to remember is to teach multiple strategies and provide all the tools to read and write.  And here’s why this is important:  the brain does not store words visually.  So you can’t just repeat the word a bunch of times (it’s ok.  We did this too for years until we learned more and now we are doing better!) and learn it.  The decoding, blending, segmenting, and spelling of the words are what allows the brain to store the word.  

Sight Word 60 works with any sight word list.  Dolch.  Fry.  Your list can be in order of utility.  Your list can be in the order of your phonics skills.  

How Does Sight Word 60 Work? 

We are on a 4-week schedule.  3 weeks of new words (4 words each week).  Week 4 is a review of the 12 words we have learned in the previous 3 weeks  (and all of the words we’ve learned).
 
It’s a quick routine that takes just a few minutes each day.

Day 1 is introducing the words.

Before I show the kids the word, we say the word.  We segment the sounds in the word (break the word into phonemes).
 
Then I show the word, and we spell the phonemes. Next, we spell the sounds (phonemes).  When we spell the sounds (phonemes), we tap our heads for each letter.   
 
Then we blend the word using our sounds (phonemes).  We repeat the blending a few times at this point. 
 
We read the word.  Students blend the word and read the word.  We do this a few times for each word.
 
 After a couple of repetitions, I ask, “What word?” and have the students read the word.  We say the sounds and decode the word again.  (Some kids might already have the automaticity!  That’s good.  But keep decoding!)
 
 Mr. Greg uses the word in a sentence, and the students repeat the sentence.
 
And finally, I ask, “What word?”  We blend the word and reread the word.
 
We do that routine for each word.  So Monday is four words and we go through that process for each of the four words on Monday.
 
That’s it.  Simple.  Quick.  Effective.  This takes 5-6 minutes.  It’s very quick with segmenting, blending, spelling, and repetition.
 
I use a simple PowerPoint template with a yellow background when showing my students the sight words each day.  The background is yellow because it’s the first color our eye recognizes and helps the students focus.
 

So here is what Monday or Day 1 of Sight Word 60 looks and sounds like!

 

 
 

With Decoding: Sight Word 60 Day 1

Sentences:  Sight Word 60 Day 2

Sentences:  Sight Word 60 Day 3

Sight Word Grids:  Sight Word 60 Day 4

  Games:  Sight Word 60 Day 5

Our Sight Word 60 Creation has all the detailed instructions for each day compiled in one place for you, plus templates, word cards, a parent letter, games/activities, and more! It’s available on TPT & in the TKS Store. 

These sight word resources support independent and small group practice with sight words all year long!

For more information, check out these posts:

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