Word Attack Strategies!

When I work with my students during guided reading, I really focus on helping them develop good "word attack" strategies. I keep this anchor chart up for them to refer to. When they are stuck on a word, I always ask,"What strategy are you going to try?" Sometimes it takes more than one, but usually the strategies get the job done! After reading together, we even added another one (after I took this picture). The fifth one is: Look for chunks you know. This has actually ended up being one of the most popular ones! So here is a quick list of the strategies we use:

1. Look at the picture.
2. What would make sense?
3. Look at the beginning letter.
4. Skip it, read to the end of the sentence, then go back.
5. Look for chunks you know.

I use these strategies with all the grade levels I work with. I have really been pushing the strategies with my third graders. They wanted to sound out every word! I told them now that we were reading harder books, the words were getting too long to sound out. My third graders are also still working on learning several phonics rules, so their sounding out often was not successful. To break them of this "sounding out habit," I made a checklist.

I made a small list of the strategies for each student to have in front of them. I laminated the strategies so that students could check off the strategies with a dry erase marker as they used them. It has been a huge success! I am so pleased! My students are really starting to use these strategies instead of sounding out. I find it very interesting how certain students favor different strategies. Some students prefer to use a couple of the strategies over and over, whereas other students like to use every single one in a book. Differentiation at its finest, right?!

If you would like a copy of the strategies, click here, or on the picture above. I hope your students find them as useful as mine do!

What word attack strategies do you use with your students?


  1. I like that you have the strategies right in front of your students. Mine are behind me and then next to the table too. But right in front of them...they need that!! I tried something new this year. For years, I have used the same posters for them to look at with the strategies on them. This past summer, I read "Smarter Charts" and decided to have them "name" the strategy with me and help me come up with an image to help them remember it. We didn't know if the lesson was going to go well or flop. But it was really, really helpful.
    I wrote about here...

    Thanks so much for this post!! It really makes me rethink how I can their attention focused on those strategies even more!
    Curious Firsties

    1. Thank you! Thanks for sharing your lesson. It sounds really helpful. I will have to check it out!

  2. I love this! Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. You are very welcome! I am glad you found the post helpful!