Monday, July 3, 2006

July 2006: Virginia Raucher, Sight Words Superstar



Meet Virginia Raucher, a volunteer reading partner with KOREH L.A. and author of the July 2006 America Learns Strategy of the Month.

Virginia RaucherVirginia created an excellent, engaging game for students who need extra practice recognizing and reading common words they encounter while reading. We've loved playing Virginia's game, called Racetrack, and we think you and your students will too!

More About Virginia
Virginia has served fifth grade students through KOREH L.A. for five years. She writes that volunteering with KOREH "was a natural fit for me after I retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District where I worked for 22 years as an Aide, helping mainly ESL students with reading and language development. I enjoy being in the school environment and I appreciate the support that KOREH gives its volunteers. The satisfaction that I get from doing something that might improve another person’s life and thus the world, is of infinite value." On top of being a dedicated KOREH L.A. reading partner, Virginia also volunteers in the Los Angeles Public Library's "Grandparents and Books" program and teaches one-on-one computer lessons at her local library.

The Strategy

(A Sight Word Game)

Created by: Virginia Raucher, KOREH L.A.
(America Learns Network member since 2003)
Topic: Sight & High Frequency Words
Grade Levels: Third - Fifth
Arrangements: One-on-One; Small Group
Materials: - These card templates (pdf) or your own blank index cards
- The Racetrack game board (pdf)
- One die
- Small objects to use as playing pieces (such as matchbox cars or plastic figurines)

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Situation: For five years, I have partnered with fifth grade students who read at a second or third grade level. They need practice recognizing and reading common words they encounter in the books we read together.
I use this game at the end of the session as a pleasant way to get in a little more practice.

Step 1: I took note of the words that my student had trouble recognizing, then copied them to flash cards. This was an ongoing process as new words/cards were added each week.

Step 2: I made a drawing of an oval racetrack on 8 1/2 x 11 paper. The racetrack has a start/finish line and the course is divided into several sections, large enough to accommodate two of the playing pieces. Some of the spaces on the course contain numbers such as +1, -3, +5, -4 etc.

Step 3: To play the game, place the flash cards face down in the middle of the race track. The game pieces for both players are put at the start/finish line. The players then roll the die to see who goes first.

Step 4: The first player takes a card from the top of the stack and reads the word. Then the player uses the word in a sentence.

If the student can't read the word on the card, there is no penalty. I just help her/him to figure out the word as I would if they were reading the word in a story. (If you're a Network member, you can access a number of strategies to help you do this here). Since the words I use are words that they are already familiar with, it hasn't been a problem. Similarly, if the students use the word in a sentence incorrectly, I explain why the sentence isn't quite correct and we fix it.

America Learns note:
If you're working with an English Language Learner and she is using grammar in sentences incorrectly, check out this strategy: Helping Students with Spoken Grammatical Errors (for Network members only).

Step 5: Next, the player rolls the die and moves the specified number of spaces on the racetrack. If the space has a number in it, the player moves the specified number of spaces forward (+) or backward (-). The players do this in turn. The first player to cross the start/finish line wins the game.

How Have You Addressed this Issue?

Please share your thoughts about this strategy and any messages you have for Virginia below.

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