August 18, 2015 @ 9:30 am
Specifically, I would like to see us redefine what truly qualifies as a sight word, as many traditional “sight words” that children are asked to memorize can easily be decoded when a phonics approach is applied.
These examples represent three of the six syllable types and they allow students to access the majority of the words on any given “sight word” list, leaving only the “outlaw words” such as was, one, many, of, to be committed to memory. By reevaluating what words actually need to be memorized, a sizable number of words will be redefined as phonetically regular, thereby impressing upon students the reality that most words can be “sounded out” rather than memorized. Memorizing only leads to trying to recall large volumes of whole words; an ineffective and inefficient approach to reading.
Some great practices that creative educators are using to deemphasize memorization include illustrating “outlaw words” in a “jail cell” bulletin board or posting phonetically irregular words on a paper heart as a reminder that certain words just need to be “remembered by heart.” This way, the words are available for students to reference in their writing, but memorizing is deemphasized.
Go to our Literacy and Reading page to see more on reading instruction and decoding words.