Repeated Readings with Poetry

Feb 17, 2014

Once January hits I typically begin to really focus on fluency during my small group lesson. This year I introduced fluency with a concrete lesson and then we transferred that learning to our small groups.
But after hearing Tim Rasinski speak at the Ohio Literacy Conference, I realized that I needed to change up the way we practice fluency on a daily basis.

Here are my goals:
* increase fluency and phrasing
* provide a purpose for reading
* keep their eyes on the text 

So I have started using poetry (mostly nursery rhymes) at the beginning of each small group.  But one of my concerns was that the students would quickly memorize the poem, instead of focusing their eyes on the text.  Because of this concern, I came up with this weekly schedule:

First I draw swoops so that they can see where the phrases are. (I hope to take this away soon.  But I want their little eyes to start seeing these words in groups) I introduce the original rhyme to my firsties by reading it aloud to them as they follow along.  Then we read it two times together.  You can see on this one, we also highlighted the rhyming words.

We reread the original poem together.  Then I give them time to whisper read it to themselves.  (I emphasize the importance of pointing to each word to help their brain remember the words!)
Once they have reread the original we read the another version of the same poem.  I really enjoy Bruce Lansky and his take on the different nursery rhymes.
I read the poem aloud as they follow along.  Then we read it together and I end this quick lesson with them reading it independently.

My firsties whisper read the original version and the second version of the poem to themselves.  Then we read it aloud chorally (again, pointing at the text each time).  Now we are ready to look at the third version of the poem, but this time....the students will create it!  Here is what that part of the page looks like:

We used rhyming words to help us complete the poem.  Once complete, students practiced this version independently and then one more time chorally.

I have a couple of different things I can do on Thursday with the poem, it depends on how I feel that they are responding to the poem.  Here are some choices:
* ask the students to write a fourth version of the poem together
* cut out one version of the poem and ask the students to sequence the poem
* chorally, paired, or independently read the poems again

This is a big day for the students! They get to show off!  I ask them to chorally read the original poem one time together.  Then, using the Evernote app, I audio record them reading together.  We listen to it together and decide whether or not it sounds fluent.
Once the recording is done, I ask them to take the poem and share it with their family or to write another version with their family!

Another way to practice fluency is with dots.

There are two ways that it can be done (I learned this tip from Tim Rasinski too).  Place a red dot at the end of a line.  Students chorally read together but then stop at their red dot.  For the green dot, students begin reading when the choral reading gets to their dot (so not everyone starts at the same time).  It is fun but simple way to get additional fluency practice into the group.

Here is one of the poems that we just completed this week.  You can click on it to grab the poem and try it out.

Fluency is integrated into other parts of my guided reading group through repeated readings of leveled readers, quick sight word recall practice, and fluency passages.  I use these F&P leveled passages by Learning to the Core as a quick choral read and a quick independent read.  I know the exact level of the texts, the graphics are appealing, and the stories themselves are engaging.  They have been very helpful to me this year.

 Let me know how this works for you or if you come up with some additional ideas for the week.


  1. Great ideas!! I suppose you created the page you did with the students? It is amazing.

  2. I love the swoops and highlighted words! That has to be so helpful for those young readers! Great job. :) Have a lovely week!


  3. Umm, have you put together a pack of these poems for TpT? I would buy them in a heartbeat for my second graders to build fluency! I'm sure we'd work through them a little quicker, but they would be so great! I love your ideas!


  4. I've gotten so far behind in my reading, but I'm so glad I took the time to read this post...well really all of your posts, they always give me so much inspiration. I'm just getting into some after school tutoring and this might just be the ticket to help them with fluency. I agree with Jeny at Luckeyfrog, you should put this on TPT!
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher


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