How do you feel about sight words?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by janney, Aug 30, 2009.

  1. janney

    janney Cohort

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    Aug 30, 2009

    I was doing some random research this weekend and found some articles that people were completely against teaching sight words. I have never heard of anyone who was against having students memorize the more common words.

    I was just wondering what others thought of sight words.
     
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  3. CANteach

    CANteach Rookie

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    Just wondering, was the research talking about whole-language teaching in general or specifically sight words? I've read a lot about the drawbacks of teaching only whole-language (with no phonics etc) but never specifically only looking at sight words and memorization.
     
  4. TulipsGirl

    TulipsGirl Cohort

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    There are different schools of thought regarding the most effective way to teach children to read. Some advocate a structured phonics approach, others are proponents of whole language approach (which is heavy on the sight words).

    I think that most would agree that the most effective way is to have a balanced approach. Personally, I feel that the most effective teachers have a balanced approach.

    Keep in mind that children's minds are by no means cookies cutter molds. I've seen children who were breaking their teeth on phonics... just could not do it. But the whole language approach opened a whole new world to them. I've seen children whose sight word vocabulary was practically nonexistant, but who learned to read through structured rules of phonemes/graphemes etc.

    Yes, those are extremes. Most classrooms have many shades in between... which is why I believe that a balanced approach - between phonics and whole langugage - is essential.
     
  5. ms. yi

    ms. yi Comrade

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    I think learning sight words definitely gives children an advantage when reading. Let's face it -- there are just some words that make no sense phonetically.
     
  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I believe that the kids need to learn the sight words. Now whether they can do that with whole language or direct memorization is as Tulips said, what works for the kid. Now I personally do not make sight words spelling words or even use them in my word wall. I want their spelling lessons to be based on phonetic rules and the word wall words to be vocabulary. But that's my opinion, I have also never heard of research saying don't teach them in isolation.
     
  7. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Most of the "sight words" given to my kindergarten-aged son were perfectly phonetic -- words like "can" and "and". The first time, they should definitely be sounding these out. If they get to the point where they just memorize them it's fine. In fact, it can't even be avoided.

    When it comes to a word like "was", the phonetic approach would be to have the child first sound it out as "w-a-s", and then teach them that it's an exception and is actually pronounced "wuz". So, what's the whole language approach? They still get taught the sounds of the letters, right?
     
  8. Lotte

    Lotte Companion

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    Here (Norway), sight words are frawned upon. If they are taught, they only consist of letters the students should know how to read allready (phonetically). So they really aren't sight words but merely words the students should recognise and be able to read fast without spelling out each letter (which they would anyway).
    After teaching internationally, I have personally come to like sight words. :cool:
     
  9. janney

    janney Cohort

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    This is the video that I saw. I can't find the article that I was reading. I feel that there should be a heavy phonics study but it is also helpful to have those most common words memorized. As a fluent reader, I hardly ever sound out words. You don't want word callers but I also don't want a child to feel as if he needs to sound out every word he sees.
     
  10. lv2read

    lv2read Rookie

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    I favour a balanced approach - sight words taught as well as teaching phonics. Some words just don't lend themselves to decoding very well.

    One reason I like to begin teaching sight words right off the bat is that I want my Grade One students to be able to begin independent writing as soon as possible. Once they can recognize a few words by sight, they can write simple sentences using them in combination with other words sounded out using the letter sounds they are learning. I find it expands their writing topics.
     
  11. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    A lot of our spelling words are sight words. Of course we do phonics as well! :)
     
  12. kimrandy1

    kimrandy1 Enthusiast

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    We teach sight words, and sometimes they are phonetic (like "can" or "had."). I look at them as a list of words that the kids come across so often, they really need to immmediately know them, not sound them out each time. Other ones are ones that, again, are used very often but are not so phonetically based (like "was" or "is").

    But we do not ONLY teach sight words. We actually have a very heavy phonics-based curriculum.

    Think about it though - how many of you have to sound out ANY words when you're reading? All words end up being sight words, eventually, don't you think?
     
  13. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Kim - I do agree with you there. My other thought was-even if it is phonetic - every time they stop to sound out a word, they lose comprehension. The more words they can recognize on "sight" the more fluently they read, the better comprehension they have and that is the goal of reading, right?
     
  14. janney

    janney Cohort

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    I've also found sight word knowledge to be a good boost for kinder kids just learning to read. They get so excited when they pick up a sight word book and can just read it without having to sound out every word.
     
  15. CANteach

    CANteach Rookie

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    I'm with a lot of people here - I prefer a balanced approach. I believe sight words do have their place for fluency, comprehension etc. I think a lot of the high frequency words whether or not they are phonetic do help beginning readers with fluency and comprehension. If you had to sound out THE every time you saw it would you understand anything you read? My approach is to teach sight words along with my phonics program.
     

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