Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.
High Frequency Words
Did you know that in the English language, only about one hundred words make up about fifty percent of our printed reading material? That's right! If you know just those one hundred words, you'd be able to read fifty percent of books, magazines, and newspapers. These are called the high frequency words, because these are the words that appear most often in print. It can be a challenge to teach some of these high frequency words, because some of them have a very abstract definition. There is no physical object a child can connect the words with. Think about the words 'a', or 'an', or 'with'. Can you think of a physical object that you can show a young child and say, 'this is what the word 'an', 'a,' or 'with' is?' I can't. So, how can you teach these words? Let's look at some suggestions.
You can use music to help you teach these words. Choose some music that has a good beat and rhythm, something that your students can easily remember. Then sing the word to the beat. Repeat the word, sing the word's spelling, and even add in examples of the word in action. For example, for the word 'with', you can sing the word 'with,' then the spelling W-I-T-H, and then sing some examples of the word in action, such as, 'Sue is with Sam' or, 'the cat is with the dog.' When you are singing the examples, you can also add in pictures to show the scenario to help your students understand the word even more.
Games are also a good way to help your students learn high frequency words. You can do simple games such as word search for the high frequency words. You could also create cards of the high frequency words and then use them in games. If you create two cards of each word, you can then use them in a memory game where you lay the cards face down, and you have the students turn two cards over at a time. The goal is to turn over two matching cards.
Another way is to simply practice, but you can make practicing fun. Your students don't have to sit there and repeat the word fifty times in a row. But you can give your students repeated exposure one sentence at a time throughout the day. For example, every fifteen minutes or so, you can say a sentence that has the high frequency word that you are teaching, and you can ask your students if they caught it. You can even turn this practice into a game by offering a prize to whoever is able to catch the most times that you use the high frequency word. You can also have the students underline the high frequency word every time they see it in a reading passage. There are many more activities that you can do with your students to help them learn their high frequency words. The suggestions we just covered is just a sampling of what you can do. You can even make up your own activities to help your students. The better you know your students, the better you will be at picking an activity that will capture their attention and interest.
Let's review what we've learned. Our high frequency words are the words that appear most often in print. Some examples of high frequency words are the words 'a', 'an', and 'with'. You can use music to teach these words by singing the word, its spelling, and examples to a good beat and rhythm. You can also play games with these words, and of course, the more practice you can give your students, the better. You can practice by using the high frequency word often in class and by letting them find the high frequency word in books and other printed material.
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