Happy Monday to you all! 🙂
If this is the first week that you’re joining me, welcome! This is the third installment in a series of posts on building fluency in primary readers. The first post was on comprehension. You can view that by clicking HERE. The second was on expression. You can view that by clicking HERE. This week’s post is on building your reader’s rate. Rate has to do with the speed with which a student attacks the words on the printed page. A student can develop speed without comprehending what they are reading. So, working on the rate of speed too early or too often with a primary student may be damaging to long term readability. As I thought about my own practice, here are some things that I’ve worked on over the years that have been instrumental in helping me with this facet! 🙂
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of daily practice. Whether that is something you do in a small group setting, or with an assistant, or even a parent volunteer…it is a must for long term success. I am lucky to be in a school where the majority of my parents will practice with their children at home…but I will tell you that it is becoming increasingly difficult with the amount of ‘stuff’ kids are doing at a younger age that is taking precedence over homework. Make sure what you assign for practice is something that they can tackle.
This took me a while to work on. Some of you might be like me. You have all these great ideas, and not enough time in the day to implement them all, so, by mid year, stuff starts falling off your radar. Learn from me! Make it manageable from the start! 🙂 If it seems ‘too easy’ to put together…you’re in the right spot! We’re too busy these days for chaos! Your fluency folder should be something that you can follow up on. Progress monitoring with fluency is everything!
This can be accomplished in many different ways. I’ve seen teachers with younger students do a few single words a week. I’ve seen teachers hand out a year’s worth of sight words on the first day of school and have parents practice throughout the year for an end goal. I’ve also seen teachers move from single word practice to phrase practice. All of these ways can work. Any of them are options. In my classroom, I do single words from our basal in two week bands. I send home the list in my weekly update with two weeks worth of words. I drill them a lot on the first week, and then start assessing on the second. Many of the students in my class are ready by the following Monday, but students who need more time can keep practicing with me until Friday! 🙂 Works out well.
As a primary teacher, this is a pretty big deal. Students need time to practice decoding. If they are great decoders, they’re rate goes up because they have the tools necessary to help themselves read difficult words. If you have a basal phonics program, this will help. If not…create lists of words that follow the same progression. Some teachers like to work with the ending sound. I prefer working with the beginning sound. If my readers are reading left to right, it makes sense to make the initial sounds be similar. This helps my readers who are still working on print concepts remember where to start reading the words.
This has helped my lowest readers make the most gains! 🙂 I hope you’ll consider this method!
This is huge! Set goals for how much they KNOW not how fast they do it. The worst mistake we can make in a primary classroom–especially with our highest achievers is to let them think that they are a good reader because they are FAST. They are a good reader because they KNOW a lot FROM their reading! Give them fun charts and graphs to track their progress on how many words they can read. Don’t time them on it. With practice they will gain the speed. At the beginning its just important that they recognize words.
This is a piece of the puzzle that I am working out for myself a bit more. I have always felt that I am pretty good with progress monitoring, but…self reflection…especially with six year olds can kind of be hard. I think I’m *almost* at a place where I feel like how I’m approaching it is pretty painless. I just HATE when my class time is taken up with things that I am not sure my kids completely understand.