If you are wondering how to teach Fry word mastery in your classroom, this is my favorite strategy!
One of my favorite strategies for helping students master their sight words is simple and effective! I was introduced to the concept of Fry Word Stacks my first year teaching second grade and it has become my favorite strategy.
If you are looking for assessment pieces, checklists, games and more to help you teach Fry words, go to Fry Resource Collection for free resources. If you are specifically looking for the checklists as pictured above, you will find just that piece here: Fry Checklists.
Here are more details about the strategy:
1. Complete a Fry checklist with your student. You most likely will start by assessing the first Fry list (words 1-100). I typically sit 1-on-1 with a student. I record the date and have the student begin reading. I like to put a check on known words. I leave the box blank for unknown words. Different teachers have different preferences for recording student performance. Do what works for you! I like to have students complete the entire first word list in one setting so that I have a starting score out of 100 words. However, I don’t want to make my students frustrated! If a student is reading the first column of words and getting all or most wrong, I do not see a reason to have students go on. My job is to build student confidence, making students attempt to read 100 words they do not know does the opposite.
2. Create a just-right card stack. This stack of cards should have about ten cards. I have always been told that research supports creating a stack of words that has three known words, one unknown word, three known words, etc. I mark the known words by putting a dot in the upper right corner. I find it helpful to hole-punch the cards and put them on a ring. This prevents a student from dropping his or her cards and getting them out of order. If you choose not to use rings, I find a baggie useful for storing the cards.
3. Sometimes we have students that are just beginning to learn English or have had little experience with reading. For these students, it is even more important to follow the three to one rule. If you can’t find enough known words to create a stack for a student, think simple. Include their name, maybe your name or a friend’s name. You can also include words with pictures. Maybe draw an apple and write apple. Or, draw a ball and write ball. Another ideas is to use color words. You can use a red marker to write red, a blue marker to write blue. Number words are another idea because you can write the number next to the word.
4. Next, it is time to practice! Sometimes students can work on reading their words independently (when fluency is the goal.) If students are working on learning new words, it is helpful to allow them to partner up. That way they have a student to help them with unknown words. These can be practiced during morning work time or at a literacy center. Some students choose to practice their words during independent reading. If you are lucky enough to have an adult or older student helper, working with these Fry word stacks can be a good task.
5. After students have practiced, it is time for you to assess their learning! This is a quick and easy assessment (thank goodness!) Simply have students read their words to you. When they correctly read a new word, put a dot in the top right hand corner of the card. As students learn new words, I add cards from their unknown words to their stacks. I try to keep their stacks to no more than 20 words. I clean out old cards from time to time and send them home in a baggie. I tell students that these make great reading practice for home to work on fluency.
If you are wondering how to teach Fry word mastery, I hope you find this strategy helpful! I have been very excited by the success I have seen by implementing this simple approach. I have found that kids are very motivated to get new words added to their stack. They are excited to get new cards and work with their friends to learn new words. I have had many classes with students who begin as nonreaders and who are just learning English. This is my favorite strategy.
I know it’s one more assessment to add to your list but I found that the time spent getting it set up was worth my while. Do you have another strategy you have found useful for helping students master sight words? I would love to hear your ideas below.