13 Words

Did you know that 13 words account for approximately 25% percent of the text we read? It’s true!

These high-frequency words–a, and, for, he, in, is, it, of, that, the, to, was, you–are certainly ones we want our students to know!

But wait, there’s more… In their book Shifting the Balance, Jan Burkins and Kari Yates list 109 high-frequency words that account for almost 50% of the text children read!

Depending on the grade you teach, you may want to consider which of these words need your attention and how you will help your students learn them. Some of these high-frequency words are phonetic and others have some irregularity.

We may have traditionally prompted our students to memorize the words (especially those less phonetic) or used strategies such as chanting. But in his book, Equipped for Reading Success, David Kilpatrick turns to research to support a shift in instruction: “Researchers have discovered the mental process we use to efficiently store words for instant, effortless retrieval. It is called orthographic mapping.”

If you haven’t yet discovered this process, it’s time! Stay tuned for an example next week…

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