Word sorts are an important component in many word study programs. Sorting forces children to pay attention to the different features of words, such as beginning sounds, syllables, affixes and root words. There are many types of word sorts, but there are two main ways to use sorting to build sight word fluency.
Often we have children do a word sort one or two times and then move on to another activity. However, allowing children to practice the sorts over and over again is one of the best ways to help them develop fast, accurate word recognition. To achieve this, have the children place their words for a sort in an envelope after the initial sort, instead of gluing them onto paper or into a word study notebook. Then encourage the students to spend five or ten minutes at the beginning of your spelling or word study time practicing the sorts. For children who need even more time with the sorts, find time in the day to call a small group to work with you on sorting.
After your second graders are able to accurately sort a particular set of words, introduce speed sorts to help them continue to build fluency. Let the children work in pairs with one child sorting his words, while the other times him with a stopwatch. Instruct the first student to sort his words three times, trying to get a faster time with each try. Then have the partners switch jobs, so that they each get a chance to practice. Most students will find this a very motivating way to practice reading sight words.