ABC/Dolch sight words

Discussion in 'Kindergarten' started by bonneb, Nov 2, 2018.

  1. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Nov 2, 2018

    I've taught over 20 years, mostly pre-K and first. This year I have a new position in a new school, which includes RTI small groups for reading. I have a small K group and they don't know the names of the letters. Their K curriculum is letter sounds, not names. If I were their teacher all day, I would saturate them with ABC letter activities and books. Today the question of Dolch sight words came up among staff. I know each kid learns differently - my question is, would you recommend starting sight words in addition to the ABC studies? (They are mostly not getting the ABC names in our small amount of time together.)

    Thanks!
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Nov 2, 2018

    I know that our general education K curriculum does teach both letters and sight words at the same time. With my students in intervention groups, I personally don't start teaching sight words until they have mastered all or at the least the vast majority of their letter names and sounds. It just doesn't make sense to me to try to get them to memorize whole words when they don't understand the letters yet. I also generally teach sight words by tons and tons of repetition with both reading and spelling/writing the word, which isn't going to make sense if they don't know the letter names. Once they know most of the letters, I start teaching blending for CVC words and basic sight words concurrently.

    Are you saying that the K teachers aren't teaching the letter names at all? My previous P suggested this. I think it's a really dumb idea. She said they didn't need to know the letter names for reading and if they could match the written symbol with the sound that was good enough. Except how are you going to talk about spelling if you don't know the name of the letters?? Knowing the names is actually one of our state standards, so that idea was shut down quickly. I've always taught the name and sound together.
     
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Nov 3, 2018

    The idea about not learning letter names mainly comes from research suggesting that knowing letter names doesn't facilitate decoding, but I think that leaves out that "general common knowledge" component. After all, what adult out there (functional in society) would not know letter names? And, if we take the view that explicit instruction is needed with some kids for some things, wouldn't that extend to letter names?

    Here's my perspective: If you're an RtI pull-out teacher and your goal is to improve phonemic awareness, etc. (basic reading skills), I would not focus on letter names. There should be enough exposure to that in the general curriculum that that piece should come. If, for some reason, it doesn't, you can always remediate, but I wouldn't spend precious time in a dedicated space for beginning reading skills on Letter ID.

    The dolch word idea is interesting - from an RtI T2 or T3/remediation perspective, I can't imagine a situation in which you'd have a group of students that hadn't started learning sight words in the classroom yet, and very few kids are going to be at a phonemic awareness-only level of instruction (expect for perhaps your early K group!). As waterfall suggested, I'd probably begin teaching sight words at the same time as I did CVC blending, except I would definitely not wait until a kid had most letter sounds down before teaching CVC blending. I take a very integrated approach to phonics, and my experience is that as soon as you start teaching a skill, it's best to start folding it into a larger context of decoding/reading. Of course, a child needs several letter sounds before they can tackle beginning decoding, but if you start off with m, t, c, a, b, etc. you'll have enough letter sounds down to begin basic VC/CVC decoding pretty early on. All of that is to say that you'll then likely be able to start teaching sight words pretty early on the letter-sound ID process if you take that approach.

    All of that said, every kid/group is different, so if you find that visual memory is challenging for a particular student and they need a lot of repetition before they can visually recall letters or combos, then sight words may be too much at the very beginning, or you may need to take it more slowly. But, in general, I'd definitely do Dolch words pretty early on along with the phonics portion of instruction
     
  5. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Nov 6, 2018

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I think learning sight words at the same time as the names of the letters and the sounds of the letters is a great idea for students who are not struggling. For this group, I've decided not to add sight words at this time. I see the reasoning behind "learn the sounds and you can read" -- if they know the sounds they can perform on standardized testing. But in my opinion and from my experience, kiddos need to know the names of the letters. So they can spell!
     

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