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Assessment Strategies and Reading Profiles

Print Skills (Alphabetics)

Sight Words

Acronyms and Abbreviations

GE = Grade Equivalent

Sight words are words that are known so well that they can be read instantaneously. Having a bank of sight words releases a reader's attention needed for comprehension and for figuring out more difficult and less frequent words. Words that should be recognized "on sight" are those that are most useful whether they are regular (those that can be sounded out) or irregular (those that do not follow word analysis rules). Sight words are memorized as whole words even if they can be sounded out.

Assess a learner's knowledge of basic sight words if her/his word recognition level is below GE 5 by having the learner read a list of high frequency words from a basic word list. You can download the Dolch Basic Words and the Fry Instant Words from this site.  You may print and make copies of these lists.

Methods for teaching sight words as whole units vary. It all boils down to using as many modalities as necessary to help learners remember the forms and recognize these words instantaneously. Flash cards or other ways to have repeated visual exposure to the word, writing the word, using a finger to trace the letter sequence, and visualizing the word are some strategies for learning the words. Saying the word while looking, tracing, or visualizing brings in another sense—hearing—to help impress the word in memory.

Because most adult poor readers have difficulty with letter-sound skills, they tend to use a whole word recognition approach much more than do children who are reading at the same level.RR Whole word recognition works only if the words are mastered sight words. The result of continued reliance on whole word "recognition" instead of phonetic skills when decoding unfamiliar words is guessing and misreading.RR

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