Increasing Sight Word Recognition In High School

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Research in reading for children with and without disabilities provides evidence that the ability to read fluently is one of the most important skills needed to improve the chance of success in academic and functional living skills. Good reading skill is also a deterrent that can help in preventing children from dropping out of school (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008). Children that are mild to moderately intellectually challenged can learn phonics and reading but are usually well below their grade level. For children with disabilities sight word recognition is needed for academic and for functional use in daily living. Sight word recognition can improve their fluency with reading and their ability to connect words with functional life skills (Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, & Ahlgrim-Detzell, 2006).

Review of Related Literature

According to the National Institute for Literacy (2009), Assessment Strategies & Reading Profiles (ASRP), sight words can be divided into two categories. They are, common words that do not conform to rules of word analysis, and words that are recognized instantly without having to be sounded out. The methods of teaching sight words are varied. They can include flash cards, looking at pictures then repeating the word, finger tracing letters, repeated writing, and word lists. What they all have in common is repetition. The strategy reviewed in this paper will be on words that should be instantly recognized using a Dolch word list with a constant time delay (CTD) strategy.

In the study "Use of Choral and Independent Responses with Constant Time Delay when Teaching Sight Word Reading" (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990). CTD was used to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching sight words in a small group setting. The study included, sight word recognition, spelling, and comprehension but spelling and comprehension were incidental learning aspects of CTD (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

The participants in this study included four male children between 7 and 8 years old, enrolled in first grade in a public school. All participants received support services in a special education resource room (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

The procedures for the study were:

(a) General Procedures- here the children were given sets of primer and first-grade level words from the Dolch Basic Word List. Sets of two words were taught to all 4 children with a choral response (children repeat after teacher) then an individual response. In the choral response words were repeated and spelled by all children. Each word received 5 trials and was randomly intermixed for a total of ten trials for each child (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

(b) Probe Procedures- assessed the child's ability to read target words and was performed after the general procedures. For the probe session the teacher would hold up a word and say "Everybody look," then asked the target child "What word?"

The target child would have 4 seconds to give a correct response. No reinforcement was given during individual probe sessions, verbal praise or corrections were done after a set of probes were completed. There was no spelling of words during probe procedures so children could concentrate on sight reading each word. Responses were scored as correct, incorrect, or no response (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

(c) Choral and Individual Spelling Attentional Responses- This session like the probe session the teacher would say "Everybody look," then "Everybody spell the word," the teacher would say each letter and the children would repeat after her. The teacher would repeat the process with the target child "Everybody look," then to target child "spell this word" (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

(d) Constant Time Delay- instructions sessions included five trials of choral responses and five trials with individual responses. The trial task, direction, and control prompts were explained prior to the start of each trial as reinforcement. Criterion mastery for CTD was 100% with a 0 second delay for choral prompts. Once the 0 second delay was mastered a 4 second delay trial was used for individual responses (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

(e) Review Trials- At the start of each day two review trials were conducted to reinforce previous learning (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

The study concluded that CTD was effective on sight words to all participants but since this was a group trial each child's performance differed. All the participants increased with intervention prompts but with individual response they remained in the low levels. The study supports previous studies that constant time delay is effective with one-to-one instruction but can be implemented in small group instruction successfully (Wolery, Ault, Gast, Doyle, & Mills, 1990).

Reading Racetrack is a method for teaching sight words as well as reading. It uses a game style racetrack which the child has to follow to the finish line. Hyde, McLaughlin, & Everson, (2009) replicated a study with two elementary children in the Pacific Northwest. The children, one female in the sixth grade and one male in the fifth grade, both met state and federal criteria for learning disability and received services in a resource room for reading and writing (Hyde, McLaughlin, & Everson, 2009).

The materials used in the study were Dolch Sight word sets 3-4, a stop watch, graph paper, pens, data collection sheets and drill sheets designed as a race track. The sight words were placed on the racetrack randomly so no similar words were together. Two 28 cell racetracks were used, racetrack one had seven sight words repeated in random order and racetrack two was a review racetrack for 28 previous words and this reinforced previous learning (Hyde, McLaughlin, & Everson, 2009).

Reading racetrack procedures follow a form of CTD, each child is given a set of Dolch or sight words and allowed to study and practice them until ready. When they are ready the researcher would give them the track and say, "Get Ready, Go!" The researcher would keep track of the number of words by placing marks on their racetrack. After one minute the researcher would say stop and place a star on the last word read. The child and researcher would then count the number of words and the child would write on a data sheet the amount. The researcher would also count the number of incorrect words and the child would record them on the data sheet. After completion of recording the researcher would use a "model, lead, test, retest" direct instruction to teach, review or correct words that the child had problems with. Model, lead, test, retest procedures are: Model- correct pronunciation of the word; Lead- saying the word with the child; Test- child repeats word; Retest- repeating word several times. The child remains on the same track until they can do 90 words correct in one minute or the cycle of racetracks ends This procedure is used for both racetrack one and two. A final posttest is conducted on the original Dolch word list used as the baseline for the racetrack (Hyde, McLaughlin, & Everson, 2009).

In this study Reading Racetrack performance was effective with both children. The children showed a decrease in error rate and an increase in fluency. Reading Racetracks are both fun and practical, the child can watch their progression as a game and the cost of producing a track is up to the teacher and how much effort and cost they want to put into it. The procedures are easy to implement and can accommodate almost any setting. It is flexible and can adapt to other subjects such as mathematics and science (Hyde, McLaughlin, & Everson, 2009).

A study of four children with different disabilities using reading racetrack was conducted in Spokane Public Schools by Alexander, McLaughlin and Derby in 2008. The participants were three males and one female. One child was in a self-contained classroom all day and the other three were in a self-contained classroom for part of each day. The four children ranged in age from 7 to 9 years old with two second grade and two third grade. All were below grade level in reading skills. Reading racetrack was chosen for this study because it had active student responding procedures along with direct instruction (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008).

Materials used in this study were words from the district core word list, fifteen sight words, pre/post-test and data sheets, pencils, over-head markers, preferred rewards children had chosen, class tokens, a kitchen timer, and each student had a different colored laminated 28 cell racetrack. Each child had different word lists depending on the words they had correct on their pretest (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008).

This intervention had multiple baseline design with a combination of ABCDEAE. Baseline 1 and 2 were A, with the racetrack being B. C. D. and E. Baseline 1 was conducted on an individual basis in the self-contained classroom at least four feet away from other children. Each child was given an individualized list of sight words. Children were instructed to "Please read the words as fast as you can and try them even if you don't know the answer." They had one minute to read the words to the best of their ability. There was no assistance or feedback given during this time. After the reading the children were thanked and praised for their work. The data collected was plotted and placed individually for each child on their data sheet. Baseline 2 repeated baseline 1 with the exception of participants A and B that received probes of 15 new sight words due to a low number of correct words on the racetrack (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008).

The reading racetrack was then set up using the individual sight word list for each child. The procedures for the racetrack followed the one used in the baseline with each child reading for one minute, the racetrack was introduced with three to four new sight words chosen from their pretest. The words were written around the racetrack so no similar words were next to another and no pattern could be used. When the racetrack was received the child and instructor would read through the words so the child would learn the correct pronunciation of the word. When the child was ready the instructor would place their finger on the start and begin the race. If the child gave a correct word they moved on to the next, if they gave an incorrect or no answer then the instructor would use the model, lead, test, retest procedure with the child. At the end of one minute the child and instructor would count the correct words and the child would place the data on their data sheet (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008).

The participants in this study showed gradual improvement in correct words and lower errors using reading racetrack. The use of direct instruction, engaged participants, precision teaching procedures, and the model, lead, test, and retest error correction method combined to benefit each child's word recognition ability (Alexander, McLaughlin, Derby & Cartmell, 2008).

Purpose of Proposed Study

The literature provides different methods that can increase sight word recognition in children. Being able to recognize sight words will increase reading speed, fluency, and comprehension. Reading fluently will help children achieve academically and increase the possibilities to succeed in life skills and a working environment. The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of using reading racetrack to increase sight word recognition with two high school children that have mild intellectual disability.