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SIPPS Sight Words & Sight Syllable Instruction Matters! IES>WWC Recommendations for Foundational Skills #3 Confirms

The What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) in conjunction with an expert panel, publishes practice guides to help those in the field make important instructional decisions based on solid, research-based evidence. Their most recent publication, Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Though 3rd Grade, provides us with guidelines for how we might prepare our youngest readers to be successful.

My colleague, Dr Marisa Stukey, spent time discussing all four recommendations outlined in the practice guide in a blogs series with an accompanying webinar. (See the end of this article for links.)

In this blog, I will focus on a portion of the third recommendation: Teach students to decode words, analyze word parts and write and recognize words. The empirical evidence is strong that we must teach regular and irregular high-frequency words so that students can recognize them efficiently.

In SIPPS Beginning Level (81 words), Extension Level (184 words), and SIPPS Plus (199 words), these two kinds of sight words are taught:

  • Regular, decodable words that students cannot sound out yet because they have not learned enough phonics, such as see and like
  • Irregular, high-frequency sight words that cannot be sounded out, such as of, was, and could

The sight words are explicitly taught during the Sight Word routine portion of the lesson, practiced during the Guided Spelling Routine portion of the lesson, and applied during the Reading routine portion of a lesson.

Beginning Level

  • Sight Word routine in Appendix A starting on page 486
  • Further Assessment and Intervention for Sight Words in Appendix C starting on page 519
  • Sight Word Index in Appendix G starting on page 571

Extension Level

  • Sight Word routine in Appendix A starting on page 405
  • Further Assessment and Intervention for Sight Words in Appendix C starting on page 433
  • Sight Word Index in Appendix H starting on page 493
  • Irregular Sight Word Families in Appendix I starting on page 495

SIPPS Plus

  • Sight Word routine in Appendix A starting on page 507
  • Further Assessment and Intervention for Sight Words in Appendix C starting on page 538
  • Sight Word Index in Appendix H starting on page 601
  • Irregular Sight Word Families in Appendix I starting on page 605

The empirical evidence is strong that we must teach students to recognize common word parts.

In SIPPS Challenge Level (90 syllables), the instruction transitions to sight syllables. Sight knowledge of common roots and affixes, as well as other common word parts, improves a reader’s chances of identifying the many words in which these units appear. Additionally, definitions, which aid in both decoding and comprehension, are provided for some syllables.

The sight syllables are explicitly taught during the Sight Syllable routine portion of the lesson and are practiced during the Guided Spelling portion of the lesson. The students extend their sight syllable knowledge to unknown words they encounter in their reading.

Challenge Level

  • Sight Syllables routine in Appendix A starting on page 526
  • Assessment and Intervention for Irregular Words in Appendix E starting on page 585
  • Sight Syllables in Appendix J starting on page 665

For more information, you may want to read Marisa’ blog series on the IES>WWC Recommendations for Foundational Skills or watch the webinar archive, Unpacking the Recommendations from the IES>WWC Practice Guide.

Gina Fugnitto, EdD, is the director of consultant development at Center for the Collaborative Classroom. She has experience as a literacy coach, teacher, and professional development provider. She was a Reading Recovery teacher, a Literacy Collaborative coach, and the associate director of literacy for Response to Intervention Teaching Learning Connection. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MA in Educational Leadership, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Follow Gina on Twitter at @gfugnitto.

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