Word Attack

At the beginning of the year, I notice my student Mark (this student’s name has been changed) was struggling decoding words. His fluency rate was below the suggested rate for the beginning of first grade and he was frustrated. Immediately, I began to research strategies for him and a few other students to work on during the word work portion of my guided reading group. I came across a strategy called “Word Attack” found on this blog. This quote found on the blog says it best: Phonic rules are important, but they don’t always work for figuring out (decoding) a word. We need other strategies besides “sound it out” to help our kids read words.  These are called Word Attack Strategies.


When students come to a word that they don’t know, they can use a word attack strategy. These strategies include:
-picture clues {using the picture to make an inference}
-beginning and ending sounds {use the beginning and ending sounds to see if they can figure out the word}
-tiny words {students look for small words within the unknown words that they may know}
-chunk it {students look for larger words with the unknown word that they may know}
-skip and come back {students skip the word and when they come to the end of the sentence, they would reread the sentence and see if they could figure out the word}
-does it make sense {this requires students to actively listen to themselves as they read}

After modeling how to do each strategy in my small group, I encouraged students to try one if they were stuck on a word. Last quarter, I focused on using picture clues and beginning and ending sounds. Students in picked up on using the picture clues fairly quickly and most grasped using the beginning sound. All students were challenged when having to use the ending sound. I think this process was hard for students because they are trying to figure out the missing pieces.

Currently, I am focusing on the tiny words and chunking strategy. Since most of my students know basic sight words, I hope this will be a skill they will find easy to implement. I plan to have students tell me the word they decoded and what chunks they found. After sharing the information, students will record their words and chunks in a section of their reading notebooks. This will serve as a reference to students so that they can see the growth that they have made throughout the year.

I printed out the bookmarks found on the blog and shared them with my students during reading groups. I focused on teaching one strategy per week so that students could grasp how to use each one. I shared with students that they must practice these skills to become good readers. At our 1st grade parent night, I shared these strategies with parents so that they know the language I am using in the classroom and can continue the same at home. This will help students become less confused.


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