Differentiating Sight Word Instruction in 3 Easy Steps

Are you differentiating your sight word instruction EFFECTIVELY?

You have a sight word list to cover for the year. You start with the first few words. Each week, you add new ones. After a couple of weeks, some students start to fall behind. Every week, that gap just gets wider and wider.

You can’t slow down for the whole class, but you also can’t let those students fall further and further behind.


Differentiating for each student seems like a daunting task. I mean, how could you keep track of words mastered and words needed FOR EACH STUDENT?

Differentiating Sight Word Instruction CAN Be Easy!

I’m going to share with you how I differentiate my sight word instruction and how I assess easily to keep track of each student’s progress. I also have a freebie you can use to get started!

STEP 1: Assess Your Students

First, you need a baseline assessment. Use the recording sheets in your freebie to record the words your students already know. Start with the first set of words. Make enough copies for your students, plus one to show them. While they read the demonstration one, you record on a separate sheet. Circle the ones they make a mistake on and write any attempt right next to it. Assess every couple of weeks right on this sheet, using a different color pen!

Differentiate and keep track of student sight word progress with these assessment sheets. Simply circle words that need more practice. #tejedastots

*TIP: So that students don’t get overwhelmed, use a blank sheet of paper to cover all but one column at a time.

STEP 2: Assign Word Lists

Sort your students by the word list. There are 4 word lists so you will have 4 groups of students. I keep a student on a word list if he/she made even 1 mistake. Believe me, it’s much easier than trying to keep track of exactly which words each student needs! And don’t worry, since you will assess every couple of weeks, any students who only made 1 or 2 mistakes won’t be on that list for long. I tab those students’ assessment sheets with a post-it as well, so that if I have time, I can assess them earlier to move them on.


Give each student their assigned word ring (I ask parent volunteers to prepare the word rings for me and they last for years! Your FREEBIE includes a parent pack (scroll down). Ask students to keep the word rings in their backpacks so they can practice them at home and at school. I also keep one set of each color in their table bins so they can easily grab them if they have extra time.

I use the sentence flashcards (top) for my beginning readers and fluency flashcards (bottom) for more advanced students.

When you meet with your small groups, you can use the word set that your group is on. Make sure to go over which parts of the words are “tricky” (phonics skills they haven’t yet learned, or parts that aren’t decodable). As you teach those phonics skills, note that those words are no longer tricky!

Sight word sentence and fluency flashcards are the perfect tool for differentiating your sight word instruction. It's so easy to assess and keep track of your students' progress while they move through 4 levels of words! These are my go-to for sight word centers, morning work, and parent/home sight word practice. #tejedastots

When students master each list, they receive a certificate and move on to the next group!

Students earn certificates when they master each set of sight words. SO easy to differentiate, assess, and keep track of student sight word progress. #tejedastots

The Perfect Differentiation Tools

Not all flashcard word rings are effective. Ever give a student a word ring to practice and they need your help for every. single. word? What’s the point of a word ring if kids can’t practice them independently?

Single words on a card are just not enough. Sight words need to be practiced in context! These cards use the target word in a sentence or story to help kids understand and remember the word.

They are also unique because they have picture supports to enable your students to use them independently. Most of the text is decodable and the pictures help students with the tricky words.

These sentence flashcards are perfect for beginning readers in kindergarten and early first grade.

The fluency flashcards also have a word bank to spiral review previously covered words! So, students will constantly be exposed to all words they have learned so they don’t forget them!

You can also use them at a center! Here are 2 center ideas.

Kids glue into a notebook, highlight the target word, and write their own sentence.
Slip into a plastic sleeve and have kids highlight and build the target words.

Sight words in context + differentiation + independent use = WIN, WIN, WIN!

Can you tell I just love these cards? They are my number 1 seller for a reason! Here is some feedback from other teachers:

” This product has been an excellent resource to help strengthen Reading Fluency. The kids see these as a game and enjoy using the cards! “

” Great resource with so many uses…homework, fluency center, guided reading warm-up, partner reading……… “

” Perfect resource for RTI!”

” A++++++++++ Bought them all!!!!”

“Simple and easy to use for assessing.”

You can view all the cards available (Fry and Dolch) here:

Sight Word Sentence and Fluency Flashcards

Get your free assessment kit and get on your way to easy peasy sight word differentiation! It includes the assessment sheets for Fry words 1-100 PLUS a parent volunteer thank you pack!

This blog post explains how to differentiate your Sight Word Instruction in 3 easy steps. It includes a freebie to help you get started (assessment sheets), plus a parent helper pack! Differentiation is a must when it comes to sight words, so make your instruction effective! #tejedastots #sightworddifferentiation

Read more about Sight Word Instruction here:

5 Ways to Incorporate Movement in Sight Word Instruction

Sight Word Freebie Game

Body-Spelling Sight Words

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GET YOUR FREE Differentiating SW Instruction below.

Differentiating sight word instruction is a must! Here are 3 easy steps to differentiate, assess, and keep track of each student's progress! #tejedastots #sightwords

4 responses to “Differentiating Sight Word Instruction in 3 Easy Steps”

  1. Cheryl Avatar

    Can’t wait to use it!

    1. Brenda Avatar

      Hope it helps, Cheryl! 🙂

  2. Amy Avatar

    I signed up, but am not able to access the freebie. I confirmed, it is not in spam and it has not arrived.

    1. Brenda Avatar

      Hi, Amy,
      Sorry for the trouble. Can you email me at brenda@brendatejeda.com? Thanks,

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