Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Rethinking High Frequency Words Assessment

High Frequency Words
Rethinking High Frequency Words Assessment

High Frequency Words

Rethinking High Frequency Words Assessment

A couple of years ago I volunteered in my son’s class. The teacher had me assessing students on their high frequency words. There was a binder with a divider for each student. I would call the student over and have them read me the words, I would highlight on the grid in the binder if the student read it correctly. This binder of paper bothered me because there was all this data that was hard to extract and use. Wanting to automate this I thought I could make a spreadsheet to replicate the binder of paper. A friend rightfully snarked at me that we should think about improving the process not just digitizing it. So now I am pondering… how can we do high frequency word assessment differently?


Just to get started I created a spreadsheet that essentially recreates the paper check list. Make a copy of the spreadsheet for each student. The yellow cells let you mark off if the student reads it correctly. Because of the data validation applied to the cells you can quickly choose the value by typing in c for correct. Use Tab to move to the next word to quickly mark off student completion.
High Frequency Word checklist


Words not marked as correct are displayed on the review tab. The flashcard tab pulls a random word out of the review list.
high frequency word practice



Google Classroom

The easiest way to use this template is to attach in Google Classroom “Make a copy for each student.” This gives students and teachers access to each students list. Instead of a binder of student word lists, open up Google Classroom and choose the students name on the left side of the assignment grading page. Open that students spreadsheet and listen to the student read. Mark off on the spreadsheet the words the student has mastered. Google Classroom provides a private comment spot to make observations about the students reading. This note is visible to the student. Parents can view the word list with their child and are also able to see the teachers notes in Google Classroom. (I am advocate of having parents sit with students to view the Google Classroom together.)

High Frequency Words Brainstorm

The above spreadsheet template is an improvement on the paper version because it gives students access to their own data. However, it is the exact same activity as the paper version. Technology allows us to rethink what is possible. How can assessing high frequency words be BETTER? Brainstorm how we can redefine assessing high frequency words on this Google Doc
high frequency words brainstorm document

10 thoughts on “Rethinking High Frequency Words Assessment

  1. I’m very interested in the connection between data validation and the elimination of words on a different tab. I’m looking through the sample and trying to figure it out. How did you link the two? I see lots of applications for this.

  2. Love this high frequency word spreadsheet with the suggestion to add it to Google Classroom! I am an instructional coach in Modesto, CA. May I share this great resource with my K,1, 2 teachers?

    1. You can totally change the words. Double click first to make sure it is word and not a formula that is importing the word… if that makes sense. Rule: in a spreadsheet you do not type the same thing twice. If you want it again you use cell referencing. So if you double click and it’s a formula, go find that cell (sheet) and edit the value there.

  3. I love the spreadsheet idea and attaching it to Google Classroom so the student has access. Question though, if I “Make a copy for each student.” doesn’t the student have the ability to edit? Thanks.

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