The POWER of Fluency Speed Drills

There’s a FLUENCY DRILL for that!

Sight words, letters, sounds, word families, syllables, prefixes, suffixes… Whatever sight word or phonics skill you are teaching this week, there’s a drill you can quickly pull out. 

AND 2 minutes a day is all it takes!

We all know the benefits of getting our 1st graders proficient with their sight words. For years, our team used flashcards, games, sentence strips, and everything we could think of to get those words to memory. A variety of strategies is best because students do not all learn in the same way.  And all of those strategies helped, but we still had struggling readers. 

We knew we had to find a simple, but effective way to get our students fluent with their sight words so they could read text more fluently and confidently.

We wanted and needed a resource that:

  1. was easy for students and parents to use
  2. would be used each week in centers, small groups, and at home
  3.  would be a routine resource that parents would welcome each weekvcfor daily practice at home
  4. could break down the lengthy list of sight words into a manageable amount of 8-10 words per week
  5. could provide the necessary repetition of those words

And finally, one that…

    6. would be our most effective go-to sight word resource!

So we worked closely with our special education teacher and created a template for a sight word drill that would randomly repeat a weekly list of 8-10 sight words.

(You may have seen similar drills out there since ours were made, but these are the original drills we created as a team more than 10 years ago. They have just been updated a bit.)

As you can see, the 10 Fry sight words for the week are highlighted in the first row. Each row after contains the same 10 words but the words in each row are scattered randomly so students can practice reading them over and over by sight.

It is important that students practice these words regularly at school in centers, at small group, and at home in order to be most effective. In addition, students must have another reader checking for accuracy as they practice the drill. 

Tip: If inserted into a sleeve, a dry erase marker can be used to check those words that are missed. 
Storing drills in plastic sleeves in a binder is a great way to organize!

We encourage the 3-second rule. Students should be able to read the sight words without sounding out within 3 seconds for mastery.

Once we started implementing this resource and trained our students and parents on how to use the drills daily at school and at home, our sight word fluency problems decreased dramatically! 

Tip: We print our send-home drills on the same color paper each week {blue} so parents know what to look for each week.

Parents started to understand the benefits of their children being fluent with their sight words. Parents began to see improvements in their children’s overall reading fluency and confidence as readers. We noticed parents began to ask for the drills if they didn’t see them in their child’s folder for the week. Some even started asking for the drills in advance to get a jump start on the next week!

We all know that when parents become partners with us and believe in the resources we use, there is no stopping our students’ growth!

We still use a variety of resources to help our 1st graders to master their sight words. One strategy is not as effective as using several: games, flashcards, phrase strips, etc.  Most students benefit greatly from being exposed to sight words in a variety of ways.

But we have found that our most effective tool for helping our 1st graders master their sight words is by using our sight word drills.

Download a sample of one of our drills from the list of 1st 100 Fry words here:

If you like the sample, check out more drills with each clickable picture!

Not only do we use drills for sight words, but we use 2 minutes of drills at the guided reading table daily for practicing letters and sounds, word families, and short and long vowels. 

Let me know what you think! I’d love to hear from you!

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1st Grade Pandamania

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I am a newly retired first-grade teacher in the beautiful state of Colorado. I taught for 32 years (17 of those in 1st grade.) Watching my students learn and grow was such a blessing for me, and I'm excited to share what I've learned over the years with you. Read More

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