Dec 30, 2017

Uping My Fluency Game

You know those skills that you love and you can't wait to teach them each and every year?  Our whole group fluency lessons is one of those for me.  The fact that my teammate and I make it so visual and our mentor texts are fun, silly, and super engaging is what pulls out the excitement in me.

But the lessons this year...took a turn.


As I reflected on the year to determine what changed, of course it was the kids.  But it was also our instruction thus far in small group.  And this stems back to the Benchmark assessment from Fountas and Pinnell.
We adopted that assessment this year and it has changed me.  The literacy continuum included in the assessment (especially the types of questions asked about, within, and beyond the text) have really helped me to grow as a teacher.  In turn, much fluency instruction has occurred through the strong conversations that we are having during guided reading and in the writing talks that occur daily.

The effect: my whole group fluency lesson that I love so much, had to grow and change too!

In previous years, our focus was on what fluency is and the phrasing that you need in order to sound fluent.  We would create a chart to help them understand the progression.  It looked like this:


This year...we ended up really letting them guide the chart based on what they have learned thus far in the year.  It turned out like this:


The focus shifted from what fluency is and the progression to get there to what a fluent reader pays attention to and how they sound.  When I write that out in a sentence, it doesn't seem like much of a difference.  But it felt like a huge difference.  It was more about the students sharing what they know about what readers do versus us teaching them about fluency.

Here are our books that we like to use to teach fluency:


We start off the week with Wolf!  I love the way this book illustrates different ways that we can sound as readers.  I showed my students how the author wrote the words so that I knew how wolf sounded.


Students talked about not reading too fast or too slow.  Of course this led to a great discuss about spaces between words when reading and writing. 

On the second day we focused on different ways that authors add "voice" to their writing and how we, as readers, need to read it.  Students have seen bold words and speech bubbles in some of their guided reading text but The Monster At the End of This Book takes it to a whole new level.  There are large words, bold words, tiny words, colored words, interesting facial expressions, and more.


The discussions about matching our voice to the words and facial expressions were so exciting!  This is a change from last year and I think it comes from all the conversions that my entire school is having around feelings (zones of regulations).  Each student seems more "in tune" to how characters are feelings versus just happy or sad.

On the third day, we focused our attention to Ball! This book has only one word..."ball."  But in order to understand the meaning behind the book, students must read the pictures and analyze the way that the word "ball" is written.  This built off the conversations from the previous day.

Day four included a video from State Farm Insurance.  It is perfect example of the need for readers to pay attention to voice of the author.  We started with a copy of the script from the commercial:


After reading through the script, we showed the commercial.

In order to understand the meaning behind the words, students had to read the pictures, pay attention to feeling.  We discussed how the scripts for these two characters had to be written very differently, in order for them to understand how they needed to act.

Finally, we put together all of this great learning on day five.  Students were asked to pay attention to the way the words were written, the phrasing that was being used (the ribbon swoops), and the picture (which was my facial expression).


Each year I grow, my students change, and reflecting upon this makes me just a little bit stronger than the previous year.  As I learn through Fountas and Pinnell, professional readings, and watch the strong teachers that surround me, I look forward to seeing where I can help to guide my young readers.

Em

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