I'm going to start my first 'real' blog with a subject that is near and dear to me. After years of teaching first grade and then moving to second grade inclusion, I began to realize that teaching sight words in isolation was not working. About 10 years ago, I began to search for a better method and read a book by Timothy Ransinski (I believe that is how to spell his name--I'll need to double check!) , one of the leaders of balanced literacy and differentiated reading. He reported success with sight words after developing sight words phrases rather than sight words in isolation. I took his words and ran with it. These days, when I am working with my lower reading level students, you will find me introducing vocabulary words and sight words within the phrases they are written in by the author. For example, if the sentence in the reader is "The train tried and tried to push up the hill", I would pull out the phrases 'tried to push' and 'up the hill' in order to create a 'mind picture' or 'mind action picture' so that the students can build schema and make connections to the words through visualization. Instead of sight words on a ring to drill, I use sight words phrases. As the students internalize more words, they are asked to use the phrase to complete a sentence and illustrate it to prove their understanding. I have seen a huge increase over the years in sight word vocabulary! Try it!
P.S. If you feel that writing or typing out the phrase cards is too big of an undertaking at this time of the year, I uploaded the sight word phrases that I use on teacherspayteachers.com. You can find them under my full name, Jennifer Harness Ayers.