Monday, July 2, 2007

July 2007: Lindsay Thomas, Sight Word Boredom Buster


July 2007 America Learns Strategy of the Month 

AmeriCorps Meet Lindsay Thomas, an AmeriCorps member with Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps and the author of the July 2007 America Learns National Strategy of the Month!

Lindsay created an engaging yet simple activity to help students learn and practice reading sight and "high-frequency" words without relying on boring methods such as flash card drills or just writing down sentences using one word at a time.  Sight and high-frequency words are ones most commonly found in print.  Some of these words are not always spelled or decoded phonetically, which is the reason  students should learn these words by "sight."

More About Lindsay and Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps

Lindsay Thomas

Lindsay decided to join AmeriCorps after reading about the position in a local job posting.  “I had just received my elementary teaching certification, and SMILES seemed like a wonderful way to fulfill my desire to teach,” Thomas told us.  SMILES implements more than 20 different programs across Western Pennsylvania addressing child development, at-risk youth, school support, service learning, fitness and recreation, human needs, environment, senior citizens and adult education. 

And check out what Lindsay's supervisor, Jen Welton, had to say about her: “Lindsay has been a wonderful asset to the Greenville School District through this program.  Upon applying to the program, Lindsay indicated that she hoped to contribute her ‘motivated spirit and passion for education.’ To her students benefit, she has done just that.  Her caring and creativity are evident in this month’s strategy and we are proud to have hosted a member of her caliber.”

The Strategy


Created by: Lindsay Thomas, Keystone SMILES AmeriCorps
(America Learns Network member since 2005)
Topic: Sight & High Frequency Words
Grade Levels: First - Third
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group; Large Group
- Note cards and a pen or pencil for you to make sight card words with (or download 220 pre-made cards for free)
- Chart paper, a white/black board, or a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper 

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Situation: I had students do this activity because I was looking for a fun and creative way for them to practice high frequency words.  I wanted to find an alternative to using less engaging flash card drills or just asking students to write sentences using one word at a time.
Step 1: Explain to students that you have a new game for them to play. The game requires them to draw three to five words at a time from a deck of high frequency word cards.
Step 2: Once students have their cards (you can download 220 cards here), their challenge is to use all of the words in a sentence (they can add other words as well).

Remind students to be as creative or silly as possible in creating their sentences. This makes the activity a ton of fun for both the students and for me!

Step 3: When students share their sentences, write them down on the chart paper (or ask for a volunteer to write them down).
Step 4: Once a sentence has been recorded, students draw three to five more cards and repeat the process.
Step 5: If you are working with more advanced students, have them use word cards to create sentences as they write a creative short story instead of independent sentences.  Consider asking them  act out their stories in small groups later so that they can watch their new words and stories come to life.
Step 6: Here's an additional activity you can use with this strategy, either in a one-on-one setting or in a small group:

Divide your students into two or more groups and explain that the groups are going to work together to create an amazing story about a ____ (ask for a volunteer to call out an idea or you can just name a fun topic). Have students in one group draw their three to five cards as a group and come up with a sentence together to start off the story. Write down that sentence. Next, have students in another group draw their cards and create a sentence to continue the story. Let your students know when the last three to four sentence-creating opportunities will be so that they can wrap up the story.

Before beginning this activity, you may ask for a volunteer illustrator who will illustrate the story as you're writing it down. If you do this, be sure the person you choose has opportunities during your time together to practice her sight words and doesn't spend the whole time illustrating.

Related Resources & Materials for America Learns Network Members: If your organization is a part of the America Learns Network, check out these related resources to consider using with your student or mentee:
- Sight Word Hopscotch
- Sight Word Football
- “Say Cheese!” (Helping Students Remember Sight Words)
- Connect the Dots to Spell Sight Words!
- Writing & Reading a Silly Story with Sight Words


Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Lindsay by clicking the grey “Comments” link below.