I am a huge believer in building students’ basic skills: sight word vocabulary, addition facts, multiplication facts, etc. In reading, if children are spending all their energy on decoding words then the concept of the story will be lost on them. And what is reading if not enjoying the story? On the other hand, if they are are able to read fluently and accurately then, as teachers, we can help them move forward and build higher order thinking skills. When students can automatically recognize high frequency words and easily read their text their ability to comprehend increases dramatically.
To that end, I am going to start by using Smiley Sight Words ($0.99) with my beginning ESL students. SSW includes over 1,500 high-frequency words, grouped into 40 levels, 25 words in each level. Starting at Sight Words Level 1, students must correctly identify every word three times in order to master the level. SSW allows up to 5 player profiles; therefore, each one of my students will be able to move along at his/her own pace and I will be able to assess them individually.
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE IN THE CLASSROOM
I am going to start with approximately 6 beginning ESL students. Fortunately, I have another teacher in the room and she will assist in monitoring as the students are using the app. At the end of the Reader's Workshop I will check each child's progress report. The SSW Progress Report will let me assess how many words they answered correctly at their level and whether or not they are ready to move on to the next level.
Students in this group will still be responsible for what is happening in the classroom. This is not meant to substitute our lessons, but to enhance them. All students are required to focus on the mini lesson and then work on their sight words during independent reading time. Once they are done with their sight word practice, they will be expected to try their newly learned strategies and sight words on books that are at their reading level.
Because each child will have their own profile I will check their SSW Progress Report daily. This will allow me to see where their strengths are and what words they are having difficulty with. In my ELA class we do extended reading on Fridays. This gives me more time to confer with individual students and small groups. I will now use this time to confer with my beginning ESL students. On Fridays I will conduct one-on-one conferences with each of these students. After watching them read through their word list and having them read a brief passage we will set reading goals for the following week.
In order to truly measure if increased sight word vocabulary is having a positive effect on reading comprehension, once each child has mastered 10 levels I will conduct a running record. The overall goal, is to increase their sight word vocabulary so that their reading levels, including comprehension, will grow. Running records will allow me to see the child as a whole reader. Not only is their automaticity increasing, but is being able to read fluently increasing their comprehension? Hopefully daily intervention and weekly conferences will achieve this goal.