Revisiting the Introductory Challenge


As you thought about your own life circumstances and how they have affected your sight word bank, perhaps you thought of your experiences with a hobby, part of the country, or previous line of work. If you have a hobby, you might have thought of some sight words related to it.  For example, if you garden, you might know “aerate,” “perennial,” or “fungicide” as sight words. If you ride motorcycles, you might have thought of other words you recognize on sight, such “torque.” If you live in a region of the country where languages other than English are spoken, your sight vocabulary might include words like “bodega,” “cher,” or “Rumschpringe.” Previous work experiences might have added specialized terminology to your sight vocabulary: “bradypnia” (nursing), “cryovac” (restaurant work), or “tort” (paralegal work).

Even your participation in this unit may have added some new words to your sight vocabulary. Words such as “phonics,” “fluency,” or “readability” might have been unfamiliar to you before you read, listened to, and reflected on this unit; but now you may have added them to your sight word bank.


If you are completing this unit on your own, read the instructions and excerpts below and answer the questions following them. Perhaps write down answers to the questions. If you are completing this unit with others as part of a course or workshop, you can discuss your answers to the questions with one or more of your colleagues.

Step 1

Read the following paragraph from an article on sewing and circle any words that are NOT sight words for you. Think about how the proportion of sight words to unfamiliar words affected your ability to understand as well as your interest in this excerpt from the March, 2015, issue of Living magazine.

Yellow and gray floral linen gets a fresh update with bright royal-blue accents. Wool embroidery yarn has a substantial feel that gives the stitching a nice weight and depth. We used running stitches and French knots. When you embroider with wool yarn, the technique is known as crewelwork.

Step 2

Read the following paragraph from an article on a new technology described in Sandia research laboratory’s April newsletter. It’s likely that you will circle several words as not being sight words in this paragraph:

Sandia’s digital in-line holography method uses nanosecond lasers to freeze the motion of particles and kilohertz imaging to track droplets’ size and velocity. Recording and quantifying all droplets in a 3-D volume—the digital hologram—lets researchers quickly measure thousands of individual drops, allowing for accurate quantification of size and velocity. In addition, measuring particle shape enables them to differentiate spherical drops from other particulates in the flow.

Step 3

Reflect on your reading of these two paragraphs by answering the following questions:

  • Did you hesitate and then recognize some words without sounding them out?
  • With other words that you didn’t recognize immediately, did you break them down into parts to think about how they would sound?
  • Did knowing parts of words as sight words affect the experience?  For example, did you recognize parts of “kilohertz” or “droplets”?
  • How was your reading experience different for the two paragraphs and what life circumstances contributed to the difference?
  • How do your insights about your own sight word recognition influence your thinking about the role you might play in helping students learn to read?