Saturday, September 1, 2012

Let's Pause for A Poem: Fluency Practice

Yes, well we won't make any gains on the fluency graph with that one now will we? (:
The National Panel of Reading identified fluency as one of the five pillars of reading instruction along with phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension.  There is no doubt that fluency is tied to a child's ability to decode and recognize words. Because of the focus on reading for meaning in third grade I am even more interested in the impact fluency can have on comprehension.  Fluent readers are more likely to comprehend what they read.  That's because they expend less cognitive energy on decoding words and therefore can focus more on the meaning of the words on the page.
So how can we help our readers become more fluent?  Many experts in the field suggest multiple rereadings  may help students make progress in becoming more fluent text readers.
I think poetry is the perfect vehicle for this type of practice. 
We set up our poetry journals the first week of school and I have trained my third graders on our poetry procedures.
Many have asked me to share this sequence so here it is:
The first step is to show students the poem on the smartboard.  I cover some key words and we play "Guess the Covered Word".  Students use context clues to determine what the missing word might be. They write their word on a dry erase paddle and hold it up for me to see.  We talk about what words would make sense in the sentence, then I reveal the word the poet used.  We continue this way until all words are uncovered.

Next students are given their copy of the poem and they glue it into their poetry journal. We all choral read the poem our voices in unison.

 The following day we look at the poem again.  This time students participate in "Actors and Reciters".  In this activity half the class recites the poem practicing their fluency and expression. The other half acts out each line voices allowed!  Then we switch roles.  Kids love this!

During literacy station time my students will read this poem again during Poetry Partner Time.  Students read the poem three times: once alone, once taking turns reading lines with their partners and then a final time choral reading it with their partner.
The final step is to illustrate the poem for meaning  This means students must prove to me they understand the words.  Pictures are drawn with labels.  Words are considered "no excuse" spelling words since they are right in the poem. 
Finally, the students are allowed to sign up to be do a solo recital of any of the  poems in the poetry journal for the class.  They all have a PAW with their name on it.  They move their paw under the "Pause" for a Poem sign.  I will "Pause for a Poem" several times a week.  I generally pick those few minutes while waiting for dismissal or in a few minutes between transitions. 
Wow, so that's a lot of multiple rereadings! 
If you are interested in any of the materials shown on this post you can head here for a Poetry Start Up File.  Sorry, no actual poems in this one...will try to work on that next!