Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reading Fluency- activities my kids LOVE! (and grab some freebies!)

Hey There Friends!

Can you believe it's already mid-March?!?  This school year is flying by and summer will be here before we know it!  (woo hoo!)

It's around this time of year that I really start to focus on reading fluency in my classroom.  I teach first grade and this is when light bulbs start going on and my kiddos start to really READ!  It's one thing to master sight words, but when we really start to get into connected text- they just take off!

I want to share a few things that I do for fluency and then I want to hear from you!  I'm always looking for new ideas to help my students get faster, smoother and more expressive with their reading.

In the Spring semester, I always start sending home a weekly fluency passage for practice at home.  My district subscribes to Reading A-Z, so I use the passages there and just add checkboxes on the bottom for Monday-Thursday.  I send home a letter with the parents, explaining how to go over the story with their child and time them each night.  The parents record the words per minute on the checkboxes and the passage comes back to school every day.  I send home several different passages since I have students on lots of different reading levels and I don't count it as a grade- merely just another way to practice their reading!

One of my favorite ways to encourage reading fluency is through poetry.  Each one of my students gets a poetry binder that goes along with the poems we read each week.  We practice the poem each day and students are able to visit the poetry center to practice.  (I blogged about my centers here if you missed it.)  We read them, we sing them, we talk about rhyming words and look for word wall words.  On Fridays, I pass out a copy of the poem to each student and let them illustrate it before adding it to their binders.  They take the binders home each weekend and have a blast reading and singing the poems at home!  I've had parents recite poems to me before- they've heard them so many times they learned them too!  :)  I love that they get so excited about the poems each week.  After they illustrate, I always give them time to go back and read through the old poems and the classroom just buzzes with little voices- I love it!

I use the poetry binder all year long and students visit the poetry center during our Daily 5-like center time.  It's during this time of the year, however, that I start to transition away from centers.  Not because I don't love centers, because trust me, I do!!  I switch over to what I call "Partner Baggies", which is my way of getting in more reading practice through a variety of activities.

We start this time with some partner work.  I made a checklist for each partner or team and they go through the activities together.  The checklist has a few "Must Do's" and some "Can Do's" as well.  Their "Must Do" list contains practice pages such as spelling practice, rhyming sheets, chart pages and make believe word sheets.  Some are pencil and paper activities that they do and some are laminated pages that they read to each other.  I love making activities with our spelling words using the resources at A to Z Teacher Stuff, especially the Word Shapes Worksheets and Word Search Maker.  My kids really like having the word searches and I always copy some sentence practice or ABC order practice on the back.  I also LOVE these free NWF practice pages from Simply Kinder!  We use DIBELs in my district and these pages give my students more practice with blending make-believe words.  I also give each partner a few sets of books from our school's lending library and encourage them to echo read with each other.  The last "Can Do" on their checklist is to play a game together.  I like to give them something fun to do at the end of our Partner Baggie time.  Sometimes it's a rhyming match game and other times it's my word family roll game.  This week, I gave each pair a set of phrases to read and we call it the Yes/No game.  They have a set of Yes and No cards and they take turns reading the phrases with their partner.  It's pretty simple- if they can read it, the phrase card goes in the Yes pile.  If not, it goes in the No pile.  They get pretty excited when they fill up the Yes pile!

The reason I start our time with partner work is because, while most of my students are paired up and working, I am pulling my most struggling students to work with me at my reading table.  We go over sight words, practice decodable books, build words with magnetic letters, etc. because these are things they still need practice with.

Once our partner time is over, we do a weekly passage from Read Naturally.  I think that Read Naturally is a large fluency program/resource on a national scale, but for me, it is a huge binder full of leveled reading passages!  Each passage is non-fiction, so there is a lot of opportunity for vocabulary study as well.  We do a different one each week, and do different things on each day with that same passage.  We talk about expression, stopping at periods and new paragraphs and I do timed reading with all of my students.  I start by reading the passage to them, then we echo read the sentences and then each partner gets 1 minute to see how much they can read.  We record it each day and track our progress throughout the week.  On Fridays, my students have to answer the comprehension questions that come with each passage, along with doing a retell.  I do a quick check on it and then they get to take it home in their poetry binders each weekend!  I love sending extra reading practice home and I love hearing from parents and students that they read it together.

We also do a lot of sight word practice and phrase practice together.  I give my students timers to see how many of their sight words they can read in 1 minute.  I don't know about your class, but mine loves it any time I give them a timer!!  We use the Yes/No center games both for sight words and for sentences.

Today I introduced something new and my kids had a BLAST with it!!  If you haven't checked out this amazing Guided Reading pack from Rachelle- you must!!  It's jam-packed with awesomeness for Comprehension, Vocabulary, Fluency and Phonics!
(click on the picture to view it in her store)

Rachelle included some silly voice cards and we had so much fun with them!!  My kids have now requested that we use them every day!  They about died laughing at me when I was demonstrating the voices- especially the opera singer!

They used the sentences from the Yes/No game and I let each pair pull a voice card to use.  It really was so fun to see them so into it!!  I could see them reading the phrase to themselves in their head and then they would turn to their partner and bust out with the robot voice or squeaky voice!  The "stinky" card was a big hit, too- they thought it was too funny to hold their nose while they read!

I recorded some of my girls doing their robot voices- let's see if I can get the video to attach!  Fingers crossed that it plays!

Well, now that I've blabbed on and on about the activities we're doing- I want to hear from you!  What are your best fluency activities?  Please leave me some comments with your favorite ideas for improving fluency!!  Can't wait to hear what you share!