Friday, December 30, 2016

5 Ways to Build Reading Fluency

When a young reader is just learning to read, it is expected to hear hesitations and pauses between words. Readers who hesitate and pause have a harder time with comprehension. Our job is to guide them along the path from having the struggles of a new reader to securing the fluency of a proficient reader.

As always, before teaching any skill, it is essential to assess what skills your students need first.
If your students are still struggling with sound-by-sound blending and word attack skills, they are not quite ready for fluency building. Not all students are ready for this skill at the same time. 
Fluency building strategies should be started when students are proficient with their sounds and are already blending at least CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words automatically.

We use DIBELS Nonsense Word Fluency testing to determine readiness for fluency instruction.
When students are reading above 15 whole words read (nonsense words) in a minute, I move students in my class from a blending goal to a fluency goal in their small group. It is essential to move students along to the next goal as soon as they are ready so they are not delayed with their reading progress. Blending skills will continue to be practiced regularly in small group and in whole group reading, but fluency will now be the main focus.

And let your students in on the secret of what their goal is. They need buy-in and ownership of their goal in order for them to succeed.

I use my must have Targeted Guided Reading Plan and Activities Resources for K-2 to plan out each guided reading group's goals and activities for a 2-week period. There is also Targeted Guided Reading Plan and Activities Resources for 3-5 and Targeted Guided Reading Plan and Activities Resources BUNDLE for K-5 These resources keep me organized and gives me activity ideas that are targeted for the skills each group is working on.

So, for those groups working on reading fluency, here are 5 suggested strategies to use during whole group and in small group to build reading fluency:

1.  Increase Overall Time in Text

Reading center games are fun and engaging, but a balance of actual reading in text and center activities is a must. When students are reading above 25 words per minute, they are ready for at least 
75% time in text. Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? They should be spending less time with center games and more time in text (reading text).

Remember, our goal is to build fluency. The best way to do that is to allow for more time in actual text. This includes more time in text in whole group, small group and at centers.

How do I do this?
♥ Whisper reading in whole group prior to choral reading
♥ Choral reading in whole group
♥ Say, "Red table read."  "Blue table read." "Girls read." etc.
♥ Partner reading in whole group, small group and centers.
♥ Partner reading during centers should begin at 10 minutes and build to 20 or more minutes at a time.
♥ In small group, quickly say, "Girls read." "Boys read." "Pumpkins read." "Apples read." 
(see picture of table below)
♥ In guided reading groups, have all materials ready so you just grab and teach. Students are not waiting for you to find what you need. More time in text!

♥ During centers, have lots of reading materials at their level available to them. Passages, decodables, leveled texts, etc.

♥ See my Must Do May Do blog that tells more about an effective and efficient way to run centers.

2. Allow for Repeated Readings of Text

Reading and re-reading text is a great research-based strategy for building fluency.
In the center baskets above, ALL of the books in their baskets are books they are already familiar with. (The only exception is for students reading above 65 words per minute. Those students may have books in their basket that they are unfamiliar with. Their goal is no longer fluency building. They are working mainly on comprehension skills.)
Re-read text in whole group by reading and re-reading the weekly anthology story.
Re-read decodable readers by 
1. whisper read 
2. whole group read 2 times 
3. partner read 2 times.
Then re-read the decodable again during small group.
Include decodable readers in their center baskets for more partner reading.
Then send home a paper copy for students to read 3-5 times at home.
That is about 10 or more repeated readings of one decodable story!
Do this daily and you are giving your students LOTS of opportunities for repeated reads!

Read and re-read short passages.
This is perfect for students who have short attention spans.
Fluency passages that encourage repeated reads are perfect for fluency building.
The one shown below has students read at least 3 x. Students color in a dice after each read.
They also practice the bonus words prior to reading.
Please note: These passages listed below are mostly 
NON-FICTION for greater interest!
Save $$ Get both Long and Short Vowel Passages in a Bundle HERE!

3. Establish Sight Word Fluency

Sight word fluency is a must early on. Don't wait until reading fluency is your students' goal. Start on day 1 with sight word building.

Introduce 6-10 sight words each week. We use the high frequency words that go with our Houghton Mifflin Reading program, but in the past we have used Fry Sight Word lists. Students need to automatically know these words without sounding out in fewer than 3 seconds. 80% of the words 1st graders read are sight words! And many sight words are words that cannot be sounded out. So it is essential that students are proficient with sight words.

We send home sight word speed drills each week on Mondays for homework.
They look like this:
Each row of words has the same words, just in a different order. So this is a list of the same 10 sight words repeated over and over again. The repetition is key. Students read and re-read these sight words until they can read them fluently. These can also be inserted into sleeves for students to practice during small groups and at centers.
and check out the speed drills below:
or check out all my speed drills HERE.

4. Phrase Reading

Reading phrases fluently in a passage is key for fluent reading and comprehension. Students need to be able to identify and anticipate phrases in text.  Many phrases (but not all) begin with prepositions. Begin with identifying phrases in whole group and in small group. Highlight or underline phrases together by using text that is projected on the white board. Then model how to read those phrases.

♥ Use the fluency passages (shown in #2) to have students highlight or underline phrases.

♥ Read poems together and model fluent phrase reading. We have a new poem posted on the wall each week that we read together daily. Sometimes they are poems in the form of songs. Students love this and remind me to do the poem before carpet time if I forget!

♥ Read and re-read rhyming books such as Dr. Seuss books.

♥ Model, model, model and praise fluent phrase reading!

5. Timed Readings

Not all students have that sense of urgency when they are reading and tend to plug along word by word, even when they are capable of more fluent reading. One way to get them to increase their fluency or rate of speed when reading is to do repeated timed readings. They read 2-4 times with repeated one minute timings, increasing the amount of text read with each timing. I use a small kitchen timer during small groups and encourage parents to do the same at home. Most parents have a timer or stopwatch on their phones that they use. An inexpensive digital one like this is perfect.
I also train my students to time each other during partner reading time using inexpensive one minute sand timers.

Training them with your expectations is essential or else the sand timers become a toy. :)
Let me know your thoughts! ♥

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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Gobble Up These Goodies! FREEBIE Included!

This adorable Pilgrim Puppet Book is a 
must have
to supplement your Thanksgiving unit!
Check out the book in action:
If you are unable to load the video, click HERE.

Get your Pilgrim Went Looking For a Turkey Puppet Book HERE.

 Another great product is my Thanksgiving FUN Pack!
LOADED with activities that will keep your little learners engaged all week!

The FREEBIE below is a sample from my Thanksgiving FUN Pack.
Grab this FREEBIE shown below HERE.
Don't forget to leave feedback and follow my store to get more great deals!

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Pilgrim Puppet Book~A Student Favorite!

This is our all-time favorite Thanksgiving craft!
It's super easy to assemble and fun to read!
Students love to read and reread their books using their puppets to tell the story.
Watch the video below to see it in action!
(If video does not respond, click HERE)

Your students will love it as much as mine do!
Get it HERE for only $3.00.

You may also like:

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Friday, October 28, 2016

Five For Friday October 28, 2016

Thank you, Doodle Bugs Teaching for another great 
Five for Friday!
 I am sooooooo excited to tell you about our students'
Fall Activity:
A Craftivity Puppet Book
My first graders love to use their Pilgrim Puppets to read the cute story over and over again!
What's even better is it is
50% Off this weekend only!

Check out this short video to see the Puppet Book in action:
If video does not respond, click HERE.

 My niece Jenna is a firefighter in Fort Collins, CO. 
She came to our class last week to talk about fire safety with our 1st graders.
But before she came, we spent the week talking about fire safety and reading a book I made about her:
I read the color copy to the students and then they each got their own fill in the blank copy to color and fill in key words. 
Oh my goodness. 
My students were so excited to meet THE Firefighter Jenna in person!
Another firefighter, Firefighter Laura came too! She put on all the gear they wear during a fire and they discussed important fire safety tips.

Get your copy of Firefighter Jenna Keeps Us Safe and other Fire Safety Activities
♥♥ I love guided reading!♥♥
I didn't always love it though.
After years of collaboration with my team, studying and reading about guided reading, I have a much better system that really works for me. 
It's still not perfect, but it works.
Check out my blog about

 We use our white boards daily for different activities. Each student has one in their chair pocket so it's quick to grab.
As you can see from the picture below, our boards are getting the "used lots" look.
But that's good.
It keeps them engaged because they love their white boards.
Last week we practiced sequencing.
I read The Little Scarecrow Boy and students paired up and recorded key parts of the Beginning, 2 parts of the Middle, and the End.
Then they took turns standing and summarizing the story using their boards as a guide.
Quick and easy activity and everyone was engaged!

We just finished our Parent Teacher Conferences and all went well.
I gave each parent/student a math resource to take home and use as a resource when completing homework.
It's 2-sided and inserted into a sleeve. I also inserted an Expo marker for them to use.
It was a hit! 
Especially after I explained to parents how to use it.
I've already heard back from a couple parents thanking me for the resource.
There is also a boy/girl set:

Grab them all HERE for FREE!!

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Click on Doodle Bugs to see what other great bloggers are up to.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

6 Guided Reading Tips That Work!

Guided Reading.

When you're new at it, it can be challenging. 
Even when you're NOT new at it. 
Primary teachers are constantly looking for that secret that will help our guided reading groups go more smoothly.

We dream of having students who:
♥ Come to the table RIGHT when we call them
♥ Are ready to learn and not talk about how grandma is coming to visit
♥ Look at the teacher or point to the text
♥ Are excited to learn and meet their goals!

Well, I may not have all the answers, but I can give you a few tips that have worked wonders for me...

1. Be Explicit About Your Expectations

Never assume your students know what you expect during guided reading.
Tell them. 
Show them.
Model for them.
Praise and reward them.
Repeat the above often.

A visual like the one below is a good thing to refer to often.
Class Rules Posters and Activity Sheets

2. Reward Them!

The minute they see you are rewarding students for following your expectations during guided reading, they will sit up tall and try to impress.

I'm not talking about repeated trips to the treasure box.
Keep it simple.
I like to give tally marks each time I see students following the expectations listed on the poster.
I tape down seasonal notepad papers where I can quickly give tallies. 
Notice the notepad papers are alternately taped as apples and pumpkins.
I will talk about that later.

The tallies look like this:

An alternative to this is to start each student with 5 tallies and the goal is to keep them.
Either way, at the end of your group time, students with 5 tallies (or whatever number of tallies works for you) get to move their clip up. 
Here you could use whatever simple reward you use in your classroom.
My students work hard to move their clips up on the clip chart so this works for me.
Something to note:
Don't waste precious instruction time commenting each time you make a tally.
Just give tallies when they are doing the right thing.
They know what they are doing right.
Other students see it too and will try to do the same.
Make them responsible for their learning behaviors.
Once in a while it is important to comment on good behavior, 
but if there is too much teacher talk, you lose instruction time.

3. Have Everything Ready

As soon as you are searching for materials while students are ready at your table, you've lost them.
The time you spend getting materials organized and ready is time very well spent.
Grab and teach!
Some materials I use during guided reading instruction:

4. Use Targeted Instruction

Not all students need to same instruction.
Just like not all sick people need the same treatment from the doctor.
1. Test
2. Review the data
3. Determine your students' individual literacy needs
 4. Group them
5. Target instruction according to their needs

I use a Targeted Guided Reading Plan to help keep myself focused on each group's needs:

When I target my instruction to their needs, it's like writing a prescription...
Just for them!
So I'm careful to make sure what I plan is exactly what they need based on the testing data.
If my testing data is not complete or doesn't tell me what I need, 
then I need to find different testing materials.
We use DIBELS tesing, sight word testing, and comprehension testing that comes with our Houghton Mifflin Reading series.
From the above testing, I can determine their level for:

♥ Phonemic Awareness Skills
♥ Sight Words
♥ Word Attack Skills
♥ Blending Whole Words
♥ Automaticity with Blending certain sounds
♥ Reading Fluency
♥ Reading Sight Words in Text
♥ Long Vowels, Short Vowels, Blends, Digraphs, etc. within Text
♥ Retell
♥ Comprehension Skills

Here's an example of targeting instruction. One of my groups is still working on Phonemic Awareness Skills. I have 4 small sticky notes taped down in the middle of my table that I use every day with them. 
This is noted in their Targeted Reading Plan.
I prompt with:
"Say trap." (as I sweep under the 4 sticky note boxes)
(they say trap)
"Sound." (they say the 4 sounds as I point to each box)

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5. Keep Teacher Voice to a Minimum

The more you talk, the less time they have in text.
That's what we want, right?
More time in text.
Keep your prompts and instruction to a minimum.
Example 1:
Remember the apples and pumpkins I taped on the table?
I use those to quickly call on students to read.
I say:
And I do it quickly in a flow so their fingers don't move from the text and 
they don't even have time to look up at me.
The flow is important.
Keep the flow going and keep them reading.

Example 2:
When we are reading from charts or focus boards, I give quick prompts like
Quick prompts give more time for staying engaged with the lesson and 
less time to look away and get disengaged.
See 13 second video below of an example with a vowel discrimination lesson:

I use the same prompts when a word is missed while students are reading text.
If there is hesitation before a word or a word is missed, I prompt with 
Students know they are to sound the word out.
These prompts are taught early on in the year.

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6. Use Must Do May Do Instead of Rotating Reading Centers

Don't waste your precious guided reading instruction time with rotating centers.
I've blogged about this a lot.
That's because I'm a true believer in using every minute of guided reading instruction time to its fullest.
Stopping students from working at centers, or turning wheels or moving names on pocket charts is stopping the flow and wasting precious guided reading instruction time.

Keep them working at their seats and just call up your group.
At each group's table, have a list of Must Do Activities and May Do Activities 
and include all materials in a handy tub.
Students work through their differentiated materials while you are teaching.
No wasted time and they complete their work on their own time.
See this blog for more information about 

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