Reading Strategy: Tricky Word Strategy

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SWBAT decode unknown words by using the first sound, rereading, and through context clues.

Big Idea

The Tricky Word Strategy is one of the most commonly used decoding strategies we use as adults; we have learned to do it automatically. This clever strategy is one that your students will like learning because it is a very grown up way to figure out words.


5 minutes

Before every new strategy introduction and read aloud, I review a reading strategy. For this lesson, I asked the class to help me review how to do Check for Understanding and how we can use our sounds to figure out unknown or "tricky" words.  Ask them why we use our sounds to figure out a word and does it always work.


Modeling Fun:

8 minutes

I then wrote the sentence: It is important to use the tricky word strategy to help us be accurate readers. I underline accurate because this is the word I am going to model the Tricky Word Strategy on. 

I walk up to the white board and tell them I am going to use rereading and my sounds to figure out a word I don’t know. I start by reading the sentence and pointing out the word I don’t know. I then say the first sound, and read to the end of the sentence. When I get to the end of the sentence, I go back to the beginning of the sentence and reread it trying a word that might fit. Each time I read past the word I add another sound or chunk to figure out the tricky word. 

Next, I write down the steps I used to get the tricky word. I have included these steps I use to teach the strategy with below.

The important part to point out to students is that if they say the sounds of the tricky word out loud, their brain can usually figure out the unknown word quickly. Sometimes it takes reading out loud to help it focus. 

TWS Guided Practice:

5 minutes

To practice the strategy you can have the class use their personal reading book or a subject matter book. Usually a text book works well because of the vocabulary that is used and finding a sentence is easier. I asked my class to use their history books in order to practice. 

This guided practice time can go two ways. Students can either partner up together or work by themselves. You can choose the best approach for you, it might be because of time or how many students that are actually ready to practice and use this strategy. 

I chose to have my students do this alone. They can pick any page to use, but need to find a good word to practice. For my readers who need support, I have them choose a bold word to practice on. The bold word is easier to find and is usually surrounded by good context clues that can be used to figure out the word. 

Instead of walking around to each student, I wait for a student to practice the strategy and then raise their hand to show me. Students might not understand this strategy yet, and it will need to be modeled more than this lesson to understand and use it. I only go to the students who are ready to show me the strategy and take note of who does not raise their hand. I can measure how many feel they are ready to start practicing it and which might still be lost. This is not an easy strategy at first, but they get very good at it after some practice.