Q: Which high frequency word list should I use?
A: There is no set list for everyone to use in a grade or reading level because the words that are seen and used most frequently depends on the materials and instruction used in each setting. There are some suggested more commonly used words found across the U.S. in the Benchmark Assessment System Optional Assessments, in the Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Lessons, and some suggestions are listed in The Literacy Continuum under the Phonics section and Guided Reading Word Work planning section. Word Matters also includes suggested lists.
Usually each school or district determines a list to be used locally based on the instructional materials used. If your district does not specify a particular list or sequence, teach the words your students need as they are needed based on their reading and writing throughout the year.
The Literacy Continuum suggests that students should have a core of 100 high utility words (that are read and written automatically and are used for reading and writing other words) by the end of first grade, and 200 by second grade. A good rule of thumb is that 100 words are added to this core for each school year. This automaticity helps with more flexibility in word solving when reading and writing. The focus is on the strategic use of the words not just the list.
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