A word like “elephant” is often easier for an emerging reader than a word like “was.” Many people are surprised by this, but not reading teachers. Reading teachers know that “elephant” has a memorable shape, is associated with a clear image, and is relatively easy to sound out. “Was,” on the other hand, is hard to associate with an image, contains a vowel in the middle that could say a couple different sounds, and ends with an “s” that’s pronounced like a “z.”

Sight words are extremely challenging. Often they’re hard to conceptualize and don’t follow typical phonics patterns. But sight words come up again and again in the English language. It’s essential that students learn these high-frequency words as soon as possible in order to become successful readers.

What is the best way to teach sight words? Read Naturally GATE (Group and Tutoring Edition) focuses on teaching sight words to small groups in an engaging way. In GATE, we call these words “spell-out words,” because students spell them out in order to learn them. GATE uses an "I do it, we do it, you do it" model when teaching phonetically irregular words:

  • First, students watch the teacher read the word, spell the word, and then read the word again.
  • Next, students read the word, spell the word, and then read the word again with the teacher.
  • Finally, students read the word, spell the word, and then read the word again independently.

See below for an example from GATE level 1.8. The words in gray are the directions to the teacher, and the words in red are the words the teacher says aloud. The teacher presents this information along with a visual.

Read the Spell-Out Words With Teacher Support 
Point to the words in the red box. Look at these high-frequency words. 
Wait until the students look at the words. You cannot sound out these words using what you have learned about letter sounds. To learn to read these words, you will read each word, spell it, and then read it again. So we call these words spell-out words. Point to the first word.
Look. Wait until all the students look at the word.
Move your finger under the word when reading it, touch each letter when spelling the word, and then move your finger under the word when reading it again.
Listen while I read, spell, and then read the word again: of … o-f … of.
Do it with me. Ready? of … o-f … of
Now you do it. Ready? (Students respondof … o-f … of.)
What word? (Students respondof.Yes, of.
Anytime a student responds incorrectly, read ... spell ... read the word with the students again, and ask the group: What word?
Point to and continue in the same manner with this word: too.

This research-proven method is highly effective in teaching sight words. In addition, the scripted lessons in GATE make this method easy for teachers to implement, and the interactive, small-group model makes the learning process enjoyable for students.

Oh, and did we mention that GATE teaches more than just sight words? Each level of GATE teaches common phonics patterns and helps students learn how to decode words with these patterns. Students also benefit from the motivating Read Naturally Strategy as they work through high-interest, nonfiction stories featuring the words taught in each lesson.

In other words, GATE is the perfect tool for teaching early readers everything they need to know to be successful. And with the recent addition of level 1.8, as well as a complete redesign and a number of enhancements, GATE is now the best it’s ever been.

Click here for more information about GATE, including a free sample. Teachers around the country sing the praises of this product, and we think you will too!