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The idea of Sight Word Goals came from years of trying to develop a way for students to take ownership over their learning. Every year, I struggle with sight words. I understand the importance of students knowing them, but have never been successful in having a class who is motivated to practice and learn them. One of my personal goals this school year was to have a class master all their 1st grade sight words. I remember at the beginning of the school year, I was sitting in a PD and I asked the presenter, “What about sight words? I can’t seem to get a good majority to learn them. We practice over and over again. We are spending about 30 minutes a day practicing them in all different ways.” She just said, “Keep doing it.”. Well, I didn’t want to keep doing it, I had done it that way the last few years and it wasn’t working. I needed something else.
My students come to me low. I mean really low. Upon testing them the first week of 1st grade, I had 3 students, out of 22, who knew all their Kindergarten Sight Words. And I had 15 who knew less than 10 Kindergarten Sight Words. So I was at a clear disadvantage. I now needed to get them to learn all their Kindergarten words first, and then all their first grade words. For a grand total of 220 words. My goal was to make that happen and I almost did using these Sight Word Goals.
We have Fall Break, which is completely necessary to recharge after the first 8 weeks of teaching first grade. I don’t rest though, well maybe a bit. It is my chance to re-evaluate my students. I know where they are at in math, reading, writing, sight words and behavior has started to mold into my routines. We come back from Fall Break ready to go.
As I was looking over their sight words, I just knew there needed to be some type of motivation. So I came up with this Sight Word Bulletin Board.
Well it didn’t look like this in the beginning. It looked more like this.
The top row is the Kindergarten list. Each clip represents a child and what list they are on. In order to pass a list they must be able to read each word on that list. The bottom row was the beginning of my 1st grade lists, notice I had 4 students who are on 1st grade list and 11 students still on list 1 of the Kindergarten list. That was half my class! This was after being in school for about 8 weeks of 1st grade. We had work to do!
The students immediately noticed the new bulletin board in the classroom. I explained how our new goal board would work. Their eyes lit up with excitement and immediately started asking if they could test. I had not expected such an overwhelming excitement over this simple idea.
I explained the rules:
- You may test only one time a day.
- You must be able to say all the words on the list to pass it.
- Each time you test you must start at list one (Once the students started getting really far, I had them only go 10 lists back).
- I do not move kids backwards. Ex: If you are on list 5 and get a word wrong on list 3, you will stay on list 5.
I have various opportunities that students can test. I made 3 X 5 cards for each list and I labeled the list number and keep them together. This makes testing much easier and faster.
The students can test at recess if I am on duty, right after lunch (during silent reading time), first thing in the morning when they get to school, at the last few minutes of the day, after school, or during testing.
The look on a student’s face even when they jump one level is priceless. I love the satisfaction they have when they master a word or a list. Several students brought a parent in to watch them test and many it was the first thing they told their parent when they were picked up from school that day, that they had mastered the next list. Students love moving their own pin over too.
This idea was so successful for our class that we had almost all students know not only the kindergarten words they didn’t know before, but all of the 1st grade words as well. Administration loved this idea as a way to make goals in the classroom, track it and keep the students engaged in a learning opportunity.
Partway through implementing this idea to my class, I came up with a new way to display the words, that is why you will see that the images change. This product is available in my TPT store to purchase. It includes an editable version to use the words that you have for your school. There are also blank cards if you prefer to print them up and just write on them with a Sharpie. I laminated my cards so that they would last year to year.
To purchase these Sight Word Goals, click here.
These are the old cards and the new cards up close.
This was used in my 1st grade classroom, but because the files are editable, it can be used in any grade that has sight words or in a resource room.
** Note: Since not all my students had gotten off the kindergarten words for awhile, we had run out of space, so you will see that the lists start to wrap back around. As they mastered those lists, I took them off and replaced them with 1st grade lists.
I love seeing the progression of the student’s clips as the year went on.
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