Corrections Procedure: Correcting Sight Word Mistakes
As children learn the sight words vocabulary and play our sight words games, they inevitably make mistakes where they provide a wrong answer or are unable to sight read the word. The corrections procedure provides feedback, to let the child know their answer was incorrect, and practice opportunities for learning the new word.
The corrections procedure takes just 20 seconds, and gives the opportunity for 6 repetitions of the correct word.
The purpose of this corrections procedure is to help the child learn the word. Focusing on the negative, shaming, discouraging, or punishing the child is counterproductive, as it only draws the child’s attention away from the task at hand. Rather, we want to place the emphasis on the child’s correctly learning the target word that is causing difficulty.
We use the sight words corrections procedure when the child incorrectly reads a word or takes more than five seconds to read a word. The corrections procedure takes just 20 seconds and gives the opportunity for 6 repetitions of the correct word:
For example, if the mistaken target sight word is should, then we would respond as follows. Each time the child says the word, the adult should rapidly move their finger underneath the word on the card, from left to right. During the correction, we move our finger under the printed word, to draw the child’s attention to the word and to cement the connection between the written and spoken word. We also use the word in a sentence to help the child understand the meaning of the word.
Adult: That word is SHOULD. What word?
Adult: Again. What word?
Adult: Yes, SHOULD!
We SHOULD brush our teeth before bed.
Following the correction, we continue on with the lesson or game. The procedure should be done at a brisk pace and should only take around 20 seconds, allowing you to stay in the flow of the sight words activity. Do not skip over the correction procedure! In fact, print out this PDF of the correction script and keep it with you as a handy reference whenever you are doing a sight words activity.
Notice how the entire focus of the correction was on teaching the child the correct word. We don’t focus attention on the incorrect word, which wastes time and simply reinforces the wrong answer. While it is clear to the child that the original answer provided was not the right answer, the focus is completely on helping them to learn the correct answer. The corrections procedure is positive for the child and the teacher.
Do not detour into a phonics lesson, by sounding out the word. Sight words need to be instantly recognized, not decoded. These words are the ones used most frequently in written English, and many of them do not follow the general spelling and pronunciation rules of phonics. The child should therefore learn to recognize and read the sight words purely by sight.
3. Frequently Asked Questions
Q: A child is making silly mistakes. They are getting the answers to questions they know wrong or they are deliberately getting answers wrong. What should I do?A: Start by calmly (if you are getting frustrated, try to relax) telling the child that this is not the time to be silly, and to give you the real answer. Do not reward silly answers with laughing or smiling; any reaction other than ignoring silliness rewards the behavior.
If this behavior persists, escalate your response by saying that if they keep being silly you will stop the lesson. If this warning is ignored, follow through on this consequence. We find it counterproductive to reprimand the child; simply tell them that you stopped the lesson because they are being silly and that they can have another lesson tomorrow.
Particularly when you are working with young children, be prepared for bursts of silliness or days when they simply don’t feel like working. Try to work through this, but it is better to cut short a session than turn it into a battle of wills.