Word Attack Reminders

UDL 2.1

Word Attack Reminders are printed checklists, posters or visual images displaying strategies that remind students how to "attack" or independently decode unfamiliar words. When students encounter an unknown word in a text, they refer to an anchor chart or checklist to "remind" themselves of different Word Attack strategies they can use to decode it (e.g. "look at the picture for clues", "try another vowel sound" or "break the word apart and look for familiar pieces"). By using this strategy, students are more likely to try multiple strategies for decoding before asking for help or giving up, making them more proficient and independent readers.

Implementation Tips

Selecting Word Attack Strategies
Teach word attack strategies before asking students to use the reminders e.g. checklists, posters, bookmarks) independently. Begin by teaching the most useful and easily acquired strategies first. Add newly learned strategies to anchor charts as the year progresses. Check out this [[ | Word Attack Reminders List]]) for strategies that work!
Model Word Attack Strategies
Show students how to approach unknown words and model how to use the printed materials to help students gain independence when reading their own. Incorporate practice during read alouds, with big books, on Smart Boards, and during small group reading instruction by thinking aloud (e.g. "Hmm, I don't know how to read this word. Let me look at the Word Attack Reminder poster to see if I can work it out.")
Promoting Independent Use of Word Attack Reminders
Direct students to Word Attack Reminders before answering questions about specific words. Before offering help, give students the chance to practice decoding and independent problem solving. If students ask prematurely, try saying, “Which strategies from the checklist have you already tried? Can you try (3) different ways to figure out the word before coming to me?”
Sharing with Peers
Provide opportunities for students to share which words they decoded using the strategies. Students will take pride in explaining how they solved for new words. Other students in the class will be reminded to use the Word Attack strategies and encouraged by stories of success. At the end of a reading period, ask, “Did anyone use Word Attack strategies today? Can you explain how this helped you?”.
Modeling in the Real World
Model Word Attack Reminders even when the printed materials are not available. Showing students how to use the strategies in the “real-world” (e.g. reading a bulletin board in the hallway, or a sign in the cafeteria) will help them internalize the reminders so that they can feel confident reading new words in any context.


Anchor Charts for Whole Group Instruction
When approaching an unfamiliar word during whole group instruction (e.g. big book, shared reading), teachers can refer to an anchor chart and think aloud, "I don't know this word. What can I do?". Students can participate by referring to the anchor chart and trying different Word Attack strategies. This guided practice reinforces the purpose of each strategy and demonstrates the word-solving process.
Checklists for Small Group Instruction
During small group instruction, it may help to be more targeted in teaching and practicing Word Attack skills. For some students, a shorter list of strategies might be more manageable. Or, it could be beneficial to spend small group time practicing a single Word Attack strategy (e.g. practice flipping the vowel sounds from short to long). During small group time, make sure that a checklist is available on the table or work surface and refer to it every time a strategy is used.
Picture Reminders for Supporting Early Readers
When early readers are unable to decode a written list of reminders, it may be helpful to provide pictures to go alongside each strategy. If the strategy is "Stretch it Out", provide an image of a snake serve as a reminder. If the strategy is "Flip the Vowels" an image of a flipping dolphin could be helpful. To see more examples of strategies and visual supports: [[ | see here]] For students who have difficulty reading written reminders, pictures are an important tool in providing access to the strategies.

Related Strategies