Tips for Word Work
Sight words are the most common words that make up our spoken and written language. Fifty percent of all text is made up of the most common 100 sight words. These 100 words can be found on Fry’s list (see below). Because these 100 words are so common, it is very important to memorize these words as early as possible, typically around the first grade. Students should be able to read sight words within 3 seconds. Sight words are also words that may not follow phonics patterns (for example, of should be spelled uv and was should be spelled wuz). We include a copy of the list of Dolch Sight Words in the Resources section of this website.
Vocabulary refers to the meanings of words, not their spelling or pronunciation. Vocabulary is important to a reader’s success because comprehension breaks down when readers encounter too many words they do not know. Vocabulary words are new words that students must learn. The key to learning new vocabulary is to provide strategies that go beyond simply teaching definitions. Ideally, only a few vocabulary words should be taught at one time (perhaps 4 to 6 words from one text). Avoid teaching lists of vocabulary words. Unlike sight words, which we hope learners will memorize, vocabulary words are new words that students must learn. They often come from subjects like science, math, and social studies.