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In education there is significant time spent in pitting sight words and phonics instruction against each other. Why not avoid this polarization?
Words Their Way is a program that utilizes the best of both -- and has demonstrated success. Thanks for posting this (below).
I teach in Delta, British Columbia grades 1/2. We use Words Their Way - a phonics and sight word based program. Excellent to balance both methods and teach kids the patterns of the English language.
As a teacher, I believe it is important to teach BOTH phonics and sight words. Each has it's own purpose. Phonics helps kids decode new and unfamiliar words. Learning sight words, since they are the most common words used in children's literature, help kids with their reading fluency which leads to better reading comprehension. So, IMHO, you shouldn't rely on one or the other.
I let my slower students check out my Rock 'N Learn DVDs. (They have both Phonics and Sight Words, and the kids LOVE them.)
I just put a free pdf by that title on teacherspayteachers, a site which most of you will enjoy knowing about.
I agree you can't just teach through sight words but I feel teaching sight words along with phonics and word study is very important! I've struggled with how to teach and assess spelling in the past. After doing a little bit of research, I have new ideas for the upcoming school year. I want to include 5 sight words and 5 word family words in our list each week. (the word family words my students will help choose) I want to encourage my students to use more of their words in their daily writing and I want to utilize my word wall MUCH more. I plan to do daily word wall activities with my kids, have my students keep a word wall and word study journal where we record words throughout the year, and plan to do a quick check of how many words my students can spell at the end of each nine weeks. To encourage students to use their words in their writing, I also want to have an incentive chart in the back of each students' journals where I reward them each time I see them using their words or strategies we've learned through word study to spell words better! I'm still uncertain however how to test their spelling words. Right now I'm thinking I want to test them by calling out their 10 words and then at the bottom asking them to apply their words by choosing a word and illustrating it, choosing a word and writing a sentence with it, writing a rhyming word for one of their spelling words, and asking students to write their words in abc order. What additional ideas and strategies do you all have to help teach, assess, and hold students accountable to their word knowledge???
If by sight word you mean more or less a vocabulary word, it's probably a great idea. If by sight word you mean a graphic design somewhat like a currency symbol, then that's probably not a good idea.
Anyway I just created a video about the phonics side, and I think it's very clear and useful, for teachers or parents. Under four minutes.
Why the debate...as teachers we all know that not every word can be phonetically segmented into it's sound/symbols. Reading is a recipe of ingredients that must be blended together in order for the end result to be meaningful. One without the other yields an inedible result.