Second Grade Nest: How I Maintained Differentiated Sight Word Lists

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How I Maintained Differentiated Sight Word Lists

There are many different skill levels in every classroom. And there are many, many sight words for a kiddo to learn before they leave elementary school. I have always used the Fry 100 lists with my sight words. I have also always let my students work through their sight words at their own level. Some of my kiddos will be on the first 100 through the entire year. Some kids will get through all 1,000 words. And I love allowing them to achieve that! 

Sight Word Activities- differentiation of sight words for primary students

Getting started... 
In the first month of school, print out the first 3 or 4 100 lists for each kiddo and put them into a binder. They may not get to the 4th list, but it keeps you sane to print it at the beginning of the year and not have to run copies every single week. 
Ask a few parent volunteers to come in  to pull your students out of the classroom and give them the assessment on the first 100 and second 100 sight words. (If a student knows all 200 words, move on to the 3rd 100 list). 

Now. Onto keeping up with this craziness throughout the year....

1. Parent Involvement
-I couldn't have done it without the parent help at the beginning of the year and throughout the week.
Every Friday, I had a parent volunteer come in and test the kiddos on their 5 words for the week. Then, they would make sure the kids have 5 new words for next week.
For example, my room mom came in on Friday and tested a little girl named Marley on her five words. Marley got all 5 correct, but she completed the 2nd 100 list. Instead of just giving Marley the next 5 words on the list, my room mom would have Marley read through the words until she got five incorrect. Those would be Marley's 5 words.  This ensured that no kiddo was studying words that they already knew!
(If a parent couldn't come one week, I would pull students during down time.)
Sight Word Activities- differentiation of sight words for primary students
(Full lists are part of my Fry Assessment Pack.)

2. Make a Schedule
Friday- Room mom comes in to pull each kid and test their words
Monday- I make flashcards and kids take home to study for the week
Every Monday at lunch was my time to update my sight word lists, type differentiated cards into a PowerPoint and print. Then 5-10 minutes after recess, students came in and saw their cards on their desks, cut them apart, put them in their baggies, and we started our lessons.
Friday is usually our spelling test, so they would test right after their spelling test on their sight words.
Sight Word Activities- differentiation of sight words for primary students
(Weekly list and editable flashcards are part of my Fry Assessment pack.)

3. Keep a Binder
Each kiddo will be on a different list. Keep their lists tabbed in a binder.
Here is what I do:
-Keep a 1 inch binder.
-Print off lists 1-4 for each kiddo.
-Separate each set with a Post-It note and the kids name. (Saves money on tabs.)
-Keep extra copies of lists 5-10 in the back of the binder so you don't have to run to the copier every time a kiddo graduates to a new list! 

4. Celebrate It! 
We have a class chart that goes from the floor up our wall. It starts at the first 100 list and moves all the way up as the kiddos move from list to list. 
Our super stars moved up and down the sight word wall very often. I asked students at the beginning of the year if they were comfortable with their hero being on their board. If they don't want their friends to see what list they're on, don't put it up!
They also take home a certificate with each 100 words!
Sight Word Activities- differentiation of sight words for primary studentsSight Word Activities- differentiation of sight words for primary students

So, while it may seem crazy and a lot to keep up with, the routine starts to set in and it's a quick and easy process. And it really pays off for the kiddos. I can't imagine giving every children in my room the same sight words, so this process makes me feel much better! And my kids love it, too.
 Two resources that make it easy are my Fry Assessment Pack and my Sight Word Super Stars.


  1. I've always felt uncomfortable giving kids the same sight words knowing that many of them already know the words. And I really like your idea about differentiated lists. My problem is the practice and how to practice. Do you just send them home with the words and the parents work with the kids? I was thinking I could have generic sight word activities at a center and when they go to the center they practice their cards there. Any suggestions? Thanks!

  2. Love this! Thank you for posting! I was wondering how to manage it in my classroom this coming year. Thanks for doing the work for me! :)