Using flashcards has become almost taboo in our classrooms, but they still have value! These three sight word flashcards drills are research-proven to increase mastery!
Contrary to popular belief, flashcards are not evil. 😉
When used in the right ways, they can really help beginning readers achieve sight word mastery and reading fluency. These sight word flashcard drills are research proven and teacher approved.
Reading sight words quickly is a foundational skill for reading. These sight word drills are quick, super simple and are research-proven to increase sight word mastery.
These three sight word flashcards drills are research based interventions that have been adapted from Intervention Central.
If you’re interested in more research about sight words, click here to read the 5 Things All Teachers Should know Before Teaching Sight Words!
Each drill can be used for 1-1 intervention or within a small group. Due to the amount of time I have available in my classroom, I almost always do these sight word flashcards drills in a guided reading group. They each have 3-4 students who are working on the same words.
Drill 1: Single Response
For this drill, you will be drawing from a stack of 5 sight word cards. Before starting this drill, determine what mastery will look like. For example, I might say “Mastery is reading each word correctly 3 times within 3 seconds.”
In my guided reading group, I hand each student their own set of 5 cards. I tell them to shuffle them up and place them in a stack in front of them.
Next I say “We are going to practice some words. I will flip your top card over. If you know what the word is, I want you to read it to us.”
Each student takes a turn flipping his or her card over. If they read it correctly within 3 seconds, I say “Yes, that is the word ____.” Then everyone looks at the card and repeats the word.
If they do not read it correctly or say they do not know the word, I say “This is the word ____. Say ____.” Then all of the students say that word.
We go around the table, reading one word at a time. If a student reaches my initial goal of mastery, he or she is ready to move onto 5 new words.
Drill 2: Direct Instruction
This drill uses 10 sight word cards. These 10 cards are made up of 3 “unknown” words and 7 “known” words from previous testing.
Just like with the drill above, you want to determine what mastery looks like. We’ll use the same example as above: reading a word three times in 3 seconds or less.
For this drill, I use a single stack of cards and drill round robin with the students at my table. Before starting the drill, I directly teach the three unknown words.
We look at them and make observations such as the number of letters, which letters are in each word, the starting sound, etc. We do not want our students to need to think of all of these things to read the words, of course, but these tools help many of our students recognize, and ultimately remember, each of the words.
Next, we go through the stack of 10 sight words round-robin, giving each student the chance to read cards one at a time. I use the same language from the single response drill “Yes, that is the word ___” or “That is the word ____. Say _____. “
Note: it is not always easy to make a group of 10 cards with 7 known and 3 unknown words when making it for 3-4 students at a time. Sometimes it works out perfectly but other times there isn’t enough overlap. In that case, you can either modify the number of known/unknown as you see fit or make a different deck for each student.
Drill 3: Folding-In
This sight word flashcards drill uses the same deck from above with 7 known words and 3 unknown words. You run through the cards with your students the same way as well. You use the same vocabulary and look for the same mastery.
Rather than directly instructing on the unknown words, you are simply going through the flashcards. After you go through your 10 cards, you fold three more known words into your stack of words.
The size of your stack will increase as you continue to fold-in more known cards but the number of unknown cards will stay the same. This increases students’ confidence as they see how many they truly know.
Note: It’s helpful in this drill to mark one of the cards as the “starter” card so you can remember which word to fold-in on. I will do this by adding a sticky note to the back or printing it in a different color!
Sight Word Flashcards
I know these drills all seem very simple and straightforward. That is actually the beauty of them. Yes, I ‘m really saying you don’t have to have ton of random materials and you don’t need to print and laminate a bunch of pages. (Although you know that I love doing those things, too! 😂).
Memorizing sight words is really a straightforward task when you think about it. What it takes is time and repetition. Using these drills consistently does increase mastery (despite being so very simple) because you’re giving students what they really need! 👏
If you need sight word flashcards to use for these drills, look no further! These are completely editable so you can type in the exact words you need, print and go!
If you want some super engaging, hands-on activities your students can do with sight word flashcards, check this post out! These are some of my favorite activities to do in guided reading groups or to add to literacy centers because my students love them so much.