MAP Reading Fluency: A Faster Way to Test Students’ Oral Reading

If you know me, you know I love running records! Taking running records of students’ oral reading (and asking them comprehension questions) is a fantastic way to learn about students’ decoding abilities … fluency … comprehension … and even vocabulary knowledge.

All of this information is fantastic and helps us plan instruction. The better we know our students as readers, the more successful our teaching is!

But if you’re a classroom teacher, then you probably know all too well how long it can take to assess students’ oral reading in a one-on-one setting.

Of course, you can make running records a part of guided reading, like I do, but sometimes you need a more formal assessment. Maybe it’s required by your school. Or maybe you just need to see where students are at.

So you start pulling your students, one at a time, for an oral reading assessment. And it takes forever, right?!

You lose instructional time, struggle to keep the other students on task, and maybe the student you’re assessing gets distracted by everything else going on in the classroom.

Assessing students one-on-one is definitely worth it, though it’s certainly not easy by any means.

But what if there was a faster way to test students’ oral reading?

What if you could test ALL your students at once, rather than one at a time?

And what if the results were scored FOR you?!

Sound too good to be true? That’s what I thought when I first learned about the MAP Reading Fluency assessment—a tool that accomplishes all of that and more.

But honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by how useful the assessment is. And my students actually enjoyed taking it, so I wanted to share what I learned about MAP Reading Fluency with you. (This post is in partnership with the assessment creators, NWEA.org)

What if you could test all of your students' oral reading at once? What if the results were scored for you? The MAP Reading Fluency assessment for Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade does all of this! Read the blog post to learn more.
Photo Credits: Duplass, Shutterstock

MAP Reading Fluency is an online assessment for Kindergarten through 3rd grade that measures students’ oral reading fluency (or pre-reading skills, depending on your students’ level).

In the assessment, students read a short picture book and complete some timed, silent reading activities. The test is adaptive, which means it uses the students’ performance on that first task to decide what activities to present next.

The test records students’ reading (which is SUPER useful to have; I don’t know about you, but I rarely, if ever, audio record when I’m doing running records).

It scores students automatically and provides data about the number of words read correctly per minute + comprehension results. It also offers ideas for instructional “next steps” for each student.

AND as long as you have a device and headset for each student, all your kids can take the assessment at the same time—in about 20 minutes.

Right now, you might be thinking, “Hmmm…sounds good, but is it kid-friendly? Is it easy to set up?”

I was wondering that too, so I decided to try it out with a student!

The Test

The test itself was very easy to set up and very kid-friendly. It honestly felt more like a game than a test, which makes me especially happy since I work with primary. There’s a talking worm and a talking green dot. Here’s a little screenshot:

I also liked that the layout of the digital text was like a book that students would be accustomed to reading. With primary students, sometimes having a lot of text on one page (like in a digital passage) can be overwhelming for them.

The Bottom Line

As I said at the beginning of this post, I was a little skeptical of this assessment at first.

I don’t believe that any technology can ever fully replace a teacher, and I’d still never completely give up my one-on-one assessment time with students.

I think it’s a bit of a different experience when a student is working directly with you vs. working independently on a computer…some students may even perform a bit differently with a human assessor. And a computer can mis-perceive a word a student read (but then again, so can we as human assessors).

That said, MAP Reading Fluency isn’t trying to replace teachers with robots. 😬 But what it CAN do for us is incredibly helpful. It gives us a quick way to assess students’ oral reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension.

And that can be super helpful between assessments—you know, during the stretches of the school year when you aren’t doing a lot of in-depth, one-on-one assessment (because you need to, you know, TEACH!) but you still want to monitor students’ progress.

Another important thing to know is that MAP Reading Fluency is advertised as a screener. And a screener is NOT the same thing as a full-blown assessment.

Screener data is kind of a “first look” at how our students are doing. We can then use that information as a starting point for other assessments and follow-up. For example, seeing students’ performance on MAP Reading Fluency might help you decide what book level to start them on when you do a more comprehensive assessment.

In my opinion, MAP Reading Fluency is a useful tool when used appropriately and as part of a larger assessment plan. The short length (20 minutes!!!!) really can save you time, and time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of!

Try It Out!

If you’d like to share information about this assessment with your administrators, you can find a fact summary sheet HERE.

Or to request a demo, click HERE.

If your school already uses this assessment, I’d love to know what you think of it!

Happy teaching!




5 Tips for Creating a Classroom Environment Where Kids LOVE to Read

I’ve always loved reading—as a kid and as an adult. I also want my students to develop a love of reading, and if you’re reading this post, you must feel the same way!

Unfortunately, not all our students love reading when they enter our classrooms. Maybe they’ve struggled with reading in the past. Maybe reading isn’t valued at home. Or maybe they just haven’t gotten hooked on a good book yet!

Whatever the case may be, I try hard to create a classroom environment that celebrates reading and supports reading engagement. In today’s post, I share 5 strategies I use to create this atmosphere. I’m guessing that you probably use some of these strategies already, but I hope you’ll find at least one good reminder or inspiration!

Want your kids to enjoy reading? This post has 5 ideas for creating a classroom environment where kids love to read!Photo Credit:  weedezign, Shutterstock

#1: Watch your language. 

The words we use to talk about reading are SO powerful! I think the best way to explain this is to give some examples of things I say to my students:

  • “What do you love to read about?”
  • “I thought it was so interesting how the author…”
  • “I think you’ll love this book because…”
  • “What book in your bag/bin are you most excited about?”
  • “I can tell you really enjoyed that book.”
  • “Reading that book really helped you learn about _____, didn’t it?”
  • “Last night before bed, I was reading…”

#2: Get them talking about their reading!

I’m in a book club, and I LOVE it! It motivates me to read and try new books. Most kids love it when we make reading a more “social” activity! Here are a few ideas to try:

  • If your students’ nightly homework is reading, have them chat with a partner about what they read (i.e. during your morning meeting)
  • Incorporate partner reading into your reading workshop, literacy centers, or Daily 5 time
  • Have students recommend books to each other (you can make little postcards available, students can write book reviews or letters, or even just hand each other books to read)

#3: Let them choose books.

My students don’t get to choose every book that they read; for example, in guided reading, I’m the one choosing the texts. But when they’re reading on their own, I do want to give them a choice. Choice is so motivating!

At the same time, letting kids choose their own books can cause some issues. I’ve had students who consistently chose books that were way too difficult for them to read independently. They just sat there, pretend-reading, during independent reading time.

So here’s how I’ve dealt with this issue: I give each student a book bag for keeping his/her books. When the kids go to the classroom library, they know that they can choose half of their books from anywhere, and half of their books have to come from a color-coded bin. The color-coded bins correspond to their guided reading groups, and in each bin, I place familiar texts or texts that I know will be easy for them to read. This way, even if students choose some way-too-hard or way-too-easy books, half of their books should still be at their independent reading level.

On top of that, we regularly discuss choosing “good fit” books. I talk about how it’s much more fun to read a book that’s a good fit.

One other thing—if you feel like students aren’t enjoying the books in your classroom library, see if you can incorporate additional types of texts. Try comic books or kids’ magazines. Search for books at yard sales, create a DonorsChoose project, or ask your principal for funds to purchase books.

#4: Incorporate novelty.

The human brain LOVES novelty! My kids’ interest is immediately piqued when I mention that something is “new.” Here are some ideas for incorporating novelty into reading:

  • Don’t put all your books in the library at once. Rotate in new books periodically.
  • Display books attractively, and rotate the displays. Try a rotating shelf (like you might see in a bookstore or library).
  • Check out books from the school or local library and make them available for students to read. I usually get a bag of “special” books each month. During independent reading time, I draw names and allow students to borrow books from the bag. Students can return them at the end of independent reading, so I don’t worry about losing them.

#5: Focus on intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) rewards.

I’m not completely opposed to incentivized reading programs that give rewards (like food, or free tickets to something) for reading. Once in a while, I think that they can motivate a child to read more…and in doing so, the child learns that he loves reading!

That said, I’m still not a big fan. In my classroom, I don’t provide extrinsic rewards for reading. If there’s something that’s going on school-wide, I have students handle it at home, and I don’t make a big deal of it.

I’d much rather send the message that…

  • Reading is fun
  • Reading is interesting
  • Reading can help us learn about people and things we never see in our everyday lives

So I avoid saying, “If you read x, then you get y.” Being able to read is the reward!

The Big Picture

I wish I could say that ALL my students ALWAYS leave my classroom with a deep love of reading. That’s not the case.

will say, though, that very few of my students leave saying “I don’t like reading.” I think this is the case because I make it my mission to help them find books that interest and engage them.

So are all of your students going to fall completely in love with reading? Maybe not. But I think we can at least get them to be engaged readers, and that will set them up for success in their future school years.

Do you have any tips for fostering a love of reading? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Happy teaching!




How to Know When to Move a Student Up a Reading Level

If you teach guided reading, you probably choose leveled texts for your groups.

But how do you know when to move a student (or an entire group) “up” a level?

In this post, I share some tips to help you make that decision!

This post is perfect for Kindergarten, first grade, or second grade teachers who want to know when it's time to move students up one guided reading level!Photo Credits:  Beata Becia, Shutterstock

Tip #1: Take running records consistently.

Running records will make any leveling decisions much easier! 🙂 I take one running record per guided reading group. So if I teach three guided reading groups in a day, that means I take three running records (one on a student from each group).

As for texts—I have the student read part or all of the text that we read during the PREVIOUS guided reading lesson. So if we read Book A on Monday and I don’t see the group again until Wednesday, the running record student reads part of or all of Book A to me for the running record. (Meanwhile, the other students reread familiar texts independently.)

When I take a running record, I make note of words that students read correctly and incorrectly. I also do a quick fluency rating (on a scale of 1-3) and ask the student to quickly retell the text. I will ask an inferential thinking question or two, if time permits. Later on, I go back and score students’ reading accuracy and comprehension.

To learn more about running records, check out THIS POST.

Tip #2: Know the benchmarks for independent and instructional reading levels.

When we read with students during guided reading, we want to choose texts that are at their instructional levels—so that they can be successful with our support, and still have some challenges to work through.

If you take running records consistently, you’ll be able to tell if books are appropriate for a student’s instructional level (or if they are too difficult or too easy).

If you’re not sure how to calculate independent or instructional reading levels, you can sign up for a free account on the Fountas and Pinnell website to view this document: http://www.fountasandpinnell.com/resourcelibrary/resource?id=281

Tip #3: Look for consistent evidence that the student’s (or group’s) current reading level has become their independent reading level.

If I take a running record on a guided reading book and it turns out that the book is “easy” for the student (at his/her independent reading level), that’s evidence that he/she might be ready to read books that are more difficult.

However, I always look for confirmation! I take another running record with a different book (preferably a different genre). I want to see two strong running records before I decide to move the student up a reading level.

One thing to keep in mind: If you take running records using my method, the student will already have read the book once before. If you’re really not sure if a child is ready to move up, I suggest also taking a “cold” running record to double-check.

Tip #4: Keep in mind that you can always return to the previous reading level!

If you find that you’ve moved a student (or a group) up one level, and they’re just not ready yet, move them back down. No big deal!

I don’t announce or share the reading level change with my students, so it’s not discouraging if they have to move back down—they don’t even know. 😉

Looking for more guided reading guidance?

If you’re looking for resources and support in teaching guided reading, check out my guided reading bundles! I’ve featured “typical” Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade guided reading bundles below. Happy teaching!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-Activities-and-Lesson-Plans-Levels-E-Through-J-BUNDLE-2845577

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Guided-Reading-Activities-and-Lesson-Plans-Levels-K-Through-N-BUNDLE-2845580




Supercharge Your Reading Workshop with Flexible Shared Reading Lessons!

Are you ready to SUPERCHARGE your reading workshop or literacy block? 😃

Shared reading can be the rocket fuel that launches your students toward reading success! 🚀🚀I’ve seen the results with my own K, 1st, and 2nd grade students: shared reading has helped them move up reading levels and become more strategic readers.

Because I believe so strongly in shared reading, I’ve been working on pulling together my shared reading lessons for Kindergarten, first, and second grade. These shared reading units include “done for you” strategy lessons – where you and the students read a text together, and you teach or review a comprehension, decoding, fluency, or vocabulary strategy. (In Kindergarten, we start out at the very beginning, with learning how books work and how to listen to a story!)

The units also include posters for visual support, checklists and rubrics for assessment, and drawing/writing prompts so students can respond to texts. The materials are designed to be “print and go” to save you time!

The bundles are now available and waiting for you!!

It was important to me to make these units flexible because everyone has a unique teaching situation (and students who have unique needs)! These units are flexible because:

  • Several text choices are provided for each week, and you can easily use your own books if you prefer!
  • You can easily skip lessons or repeat lessons, based upon your students’ needs
  • You don’t have to teach all 5 provided lessons each week!
  • You can mix and match lessons from different weeks within each unit
  • You can rearrange the units as necessary (I do recommend teaching the earlier units earlier in the year and the later units later in the year)

Here’s a peek at what’s included (these photos come from different units in the K, 1st, and 2nd grade series):

Materials to help you start your year off right and set up routines!

Detailed yet flexible lessons to teach your students essential strategies

Visuals to support the lessons

Easy-to-use assessment tools

Engaging supplementary activities and written response sheets

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is shared reading? Is this the same thing as a reading workshop minilesson?

After hearing from so many teachers who are struggling to fit everything into the school day, I decided to combine my shared reading lessons and reading workshop minilessons into a single, powerful daily lesson.

These lessons have you lead students in a reading activity where students can clearly see the words of the text. You do some modeling but encourage students to participate in the reading process as much as possible. Each lesson focuses on a strategy that students can typically practice on their own as they read (or pretend-read) independently.

If you would like to teach a separate shared reading lesson and reading workshop minilesson, you can use my materials to do that too! (Instructions for doing so are included inside the units.)

How long will each lesson take?

The lessons are flexible and can be adjusted, but they usually take about 10-15 minutes.

What books will I need to teach these lessons?

You have so much flexibility in the books that you use! As long as you have a document camera or means of enlarging/projecting texts so students can read along, you can use any book that you like.

You usually use 1-2 books per week (although you can always adjust the number of text based on students’ needs and how often you do shared reading).

Here are my suggested text lists:

Kindergarten: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1HRF5M578XRkKj5kVCUwjQcm5I7pW0eEn/view?usp=sharing

First grade: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OA5rzb2NswWQ1LCCVl5wTz4Ddhcu-yt5/view?usp=sharing

Second grade: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Zf-24wHVw-9NVdp6FUZFSHiuDJilNpGH/view?usp=sharing

Are the materials editable?

Each unit includes a link to editable copies of the lesson plans!

If I have a split-grade class, which bundle should I choose?

If you have a K/1 class, I recommend using the Kindergarten units. If you have a 1/2 class, I recommend using the first grade units—make sure to use small group instruction to challenge your second graders.

Where can I get these units?

You can learn more about them and purchase them HERE!

Let me know if you have any questions! Happy teaching!

Shared reading can be the rocket fuel that launches your students toward reading success. Click through to the post to read about shared reading units for Kindergarten, first grade, and second grade! 

Photo Credits:  Sunny studio; Shutterstock




How to Conduct Individual Reading Conferences in K-2

You might already know that a reading conference is one-on-one reading instruction. But how do you conduct a reading conference? And are they really worth the time they take?

Every school day is packed, and it seems as if there’s never enough time to “fit it all in.” I feel like reading conferences are one of the first things that get eliminated from the literacy block!

BUT they are so valuable! In today’s post, I’ll share with you WHY reading conferences are important and explain HOW to conduct them!

Wondering how to conduct reading conferences in your reading workshop? This blog post has tips for Kindergarten, first, and second grade teachers!

Photo Credits:   Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock
 

Why one-on-one reading conferences?

When I first began teaching, I didn’t make time for one-on-one reading conferences.

I taught guided reading groups and gave my students as much individual attention as I could. But I’d set up my literacy block so that students read independently as a center, so I was occupied teaching guided reading during that time. With this setup, I really couldn’t conduct reading conferences.

However, I quickly realized how important it was for me to check in with students while they read independently. Conducting reading conferences allows me to:

  • See what books students are choosing to read independently (and help them adjust the level, if necessary)
  • Determine if students are actually applying what they are learning during other parts of the literacy block (it makes no sense to teach, teach, and teach and then not see if they are applying the skills to where it really matters—independent reading!)
  • Spend precious one-on-one time with my students (this helps build our relationship and also allows me to provide super-targeted, relevant instruction to each reader)

If you’re still not convinced, consider this metaphor:

Let’s say that your car has an engine problem. You take the car into the shop, and the mechanics do their best to fix it. But they don’t test-drive the car to see if the problem is solved. You pick up the car, assuming that the problem is solved, but you drive half a block and it breaks down again! 🤦🏼‍♀️

In this metaphor, your reading instruction = the mechanics trying to fix the problem. Reading conferences = test-driving the car.

You wouldn’t want your mechanic to try to fix the problem and simply hope for the best. Similarly, we shouldn’t teach, teach, teach and hope for the best without checking to see if our students are actually using what they learn when they read independently!

Now, I always set aside daily time for students to read independently while I conduct as many reading conferences as time allows. I may not get through very many conferences in one day, but I’m at least making some time for this super-important practice.

What “should” a reading conference look like?

I put “should” in quotation marks above because there’s no one right way to conduct conferences!

Generally speaking, a reading conference is about 5 minutes long, involves the teacher and one student, and is designed to target students’ individual needs. In a reading conference, the basis for the discussion / instruction is a book that the CHILD has selected to read.

I don’t have a set number of conferences that I conduct per day or week (although I do try to see all of my students once every 2 weeks). The number of conferences that you conduct each day will depend on a) your daily schedule and b) the frequency with which you see students in guided reading / small groups. (If you only see students in small groups about once a week, then you will want to plan for more individual reading conferences than if, say, you see students 3-4 times per week for guided reading.)

I tend to teach 3 different types of reading conferences: standard, check-back, and extended conferences. In the next sections, I’ll explain what each one of these conferences looks like.

Standard Conferences

In a “standard” conference, I follow the observe-compliment-teach routine. This is not something I made up; many teachers use this method, and I believe I first learned about it in Jennifer Serravallo and Gravity Goldberg’s 2007 book Conferring with Readers. In an observe-compliment-teach conference, I see how the student is doing, provide a compliment about something she is doing well, and teach or review one strategy to help her move forward.

For me, a successful conference begins before I ever sit down with the reader. I have to have, in my mind, some general ideas about what I might want to work on during the conference. Otherwise, one of two things might happen:

  • I go blank and am not sure what to teach during the final part of the conference
  • I notice something that I could teach, and I teach the strategy—but it’s not a “high priority” strategy (meaning, it’s not related to our current reading workshop unit or an important skill for the student to master at his/her current reading level)

To avoid this, I always try to have these two things with me during ANY conference:

  1. A list of goals for our current reading unit
  2. A list of strategies that are relevant to the student’s current reading level (since I have readers at many levels, I have many checklists with me and simply turn to the correct one for each student)

Here are examples of both (the “class checklist” is from a second grade reading unit and has one additional page, not shown; the Level H rubric is an example of a reading level specific strategy list):

This "class checklist" is from a second grade reading unit. I always keep one of these with me when I conduct individual reading conferences.

 The Level H guided reading rubric is an example of a reading level specific strategy list. I keep these with me to conduct individual reading conferences.

Being prepared for a conference is essential and helps me get the most “bang for my buck!” When it’s time to conduct the conference itself, here’s what that looks like:

Observe

  • I check in to see how this reader is doing. I want to find at least one thing to compliment him/her on, and one thing to teach to move the reader forward.
  • I usually do one of the following things during the observation component: ask the reader what strategy he/she is working on, ask a focused question to help me find out something specific (“Why did you choose this book?” or “What do you like about this book?”), ask the reader to describe what is happening in the text (comprehension check), or ask the reader to read a section of the text out loud to me.
  • I try to jot down at least one thing I see the student doing well and one area for improvement.

Compliment

  • I tell the reader what I noticed her doing, using very specific language. (Example: “I saw that you covered up the end of that word with your finger. You read the base word, uncovered the ending, and read both parts together. That was a great strategy for figuring out a longer word!”)
  • I encourage her to keep doing it!

Teach

  • I teach the reader one new strategy that I believe could help move her forward, OR I review something that we have worked on in the past.
  • This teaching point is usually related to one of my goals lists that I mentioned before – the unit-specific checklist, or the reading level specific checklist).
  • To demonstrate the strategy, I choose a different word or section in the text she is reading OR I use a text that I brought to the conference for modeling purposes (you can read a little more about that strategy HERE).
  • If possible, I ask the student to demonstrate the strategy right there and then (this can usually be done easily with decoding or fluency strategies), OR to write on a sticky note the next time she uses the strategy (better for comprehension or vocabulary strategies).
  • I provide a visual reminder to help the student remember to use the strategy (I like to use these strategy cards from my reading workshop toolkits, shown below)

Strategy cards are one way to provide differentiated support during literacy centers. Read the entire post for more literacy center differentiation ideas!

  • I thank the reader for conferring with me and wrap up the conference!

All of this happens in about 5 minutes, which can make timing tricky!! Use a timer if you’re having trouble keeping your conferences brief. 🙂

Check-Back Conferences

A check-back conference is slightly different and does not follow this observe-compliment-teach routine. In a check-back conference, I’m touching base with a student to see if she has been using a strategy I taught previously.

The structure of this type of conference is a little “looser.” I might begin by:

  • Asking the child to read aloud from his book
  • Inquiring directly about the strategy: “Can you show me an example in this book or another one where you <made a prediction / insert your own strategy here>?”

Once I’ve determined whether or not the child is using the strategy, I then:

  • Praise the child for using it (if applicable)
  • Re-teach the strategy in a different way (if necessary)
  • Provide a visual reminder to use the strategy (if I haven’t already)
  • Encourage the child to continue using the strategy

In my own notes, I record my observations about if/how the child is using the strategy (or not using it yet).

Extended Conferences

An extended conference is….just what it sounds like. 🙂 A longer conference!

I rarely use extended conferences. But if I’ve noticed that a child is REALLY struggling with one aspect of reading, and guided reading / regular conferences aren’t helping, I know that I have to devote a little more time to helping him/her.

In an extended conference, I basically eliminate the “Observe” portion of the “Observe-Compliment-Teach” routine. (It’s unnecessary; I already know what I want to work on!)

I begin by giving the child a compliment about his / her reading. Then, I spend 5-10 minutes working with the child on the “trouble spot.” I incorporate modeling, guided practice, and then encourage the child to continue using the strategy independently.

When I conduct an extended conference, I usually follow it up with a “check-back” conference a few days later. Since I devoted extra time to that student, I want to make sure that he/she is following through with the strategy!

More Help with Reading Workshop

For more help with reading workshop, take a peek at my new shared reading units for Kinder, 1st, or 2nd grade. You can learn about them HERE!

Happy teaching!




“Do’s and Don’ts” for Teaching Independent Reading Expectations in K-2

 

Over the past weeks, I’ve shared ideas and tips for teaching shared reading. Today we are going to shift focus (kind of!).

Shared reading is an important component of reading workshop, but so is independent reading! I usually provide time for my students to read independently after shared reading / a minilesson.

Independent reading is where the “rubber meets the road”— it’s an opportunity for students to practice all that we’ve been modeling and working on in shared reading and beyond!

So today we are going to focus on that super-important independent reading time, specifically, how to get our primary students to actually READ on their own! I hope you’ll find these do’s and don’ts helpful for teaching read-to-self or independent reading!
Wondering how to teach read to self at the beginning of the school year? Check out this post for five tips for read to self in Kindergarten, first grade, or second grade!

Photo Credits: Kuzmina, Shutterstock
First of all, I want to mention that my own approach to teaching independent reading / read-to-self was informed by these two texts:

  • The First Six Weeks of School (Responsive Classroom)
  • The Daily Five (Boushey and Moser)

I use some of the ideas from these texts, modify some, and add in my own strategies. This post doesn’t 100% follow either one of these two texts, but I highly recommend both of these books if you’re interested in further reading!

Do…

Treat independent reading as a treat, a treasure, and something to value.

Sure, we have to teach routines and expectations, and help our students build stamina. However, we also have to help our kids WANT to build their reading stamina in the first place!

Before I ever begin teaching routines and expectations for independent reading, I spend time talking with my students about WHY I love reading, asking them what they love to read, and generating excitement for all of the wonderful books we’re going to read during the school year.

Along these lines, you might…

  • Bring your favorite book to show the class and explain why you love it
  • Give your students a “sneak peek” at some of the books you’ll be reading this year
  • Have students draw themselves in their favorite reading place at home (or school, during a previous year)
  • Bring in a photo of yourself reading at home and invite students to do the same (make a collage wall)—students who cannot bring a photo can still participate by drawing a picture
  • Throw some sort of simple party to kick off independent reading for the year

This part of reading workshop is essential!! Not all of our students will enter our classrooms loving reading or believing that they are readers. However, from the start, we have to help them move in this direction.

Model desired behaviors, and involve students in your demonstrations.

I teach independent reading behaviors just as I teach my students how to write a personal narrative, or how to solve a math problem. I show them what I expect and have them practice it.

The typical structure of my read-to-self minilessons goes like this:

  • “Today I’m going to show you _______. Watch while I ______.”
  • I demonstrate the desired behavior. (Example: sitting criss-cross with eyes on the book.)
  • I call on a student or students to model the desired behavior.
  • I ask the other students to comment on what they were doing.
  • I invite a student to demonstrate what NOT to do.
  • I invite one last student to model proper expectations again. (Ending on a positive note.)

After this minilesson, students have an opportunity to read.

Break things down into bite-sized minilessons.

When I model independent reading (as I describe above), I don’t model everything all at once. I usually have different minilessons to teach:

  • How to treat books carefully
  • How to begin reading immediately during independent reading time
  • How to invent a story from the pictures
  • How to learn from the photos of nonfiction
  • How to retell a story you know
  • How to show respect to your reading neighbors
  • What to do if a reading neighbor is bothering you
  • How to store your books in a bag or box
  • How to use the classroom library
  • How to choose good-fit books that you enjoy reading
  • How to reread books for enjoyment

For the first several weeks of school, I teach a minilesson almost every day that focuses on one of these aspects, and then students practice reading independently.

Promote alternative ways of reading.

It’s so important that our students view themselves as readers, even if they aren’t yet reading traditionally! As I listed in the previous section, I devote time to teaching students different ways of reading a book, including…

  • Reading the pictures and making up a story (I do this with a picture book written in Japanese or Chinese or another language I can’t read, to make it authentic!)
  • Retelling a story I already know (I read TONS of repetitive books and familiar fairy tales at the beginning of Kinder and 1st grade so that students can pretend-read these same books to themselves)
  • Learn from the pictures or photos (There is so much that kids can learn from looking at the images in informational text!)

Use tons of positive reinforcement.

I often lose my voice at the beginning of the school year—but it’s for a good reason! I’m constantly pointing out students’ excellent behavior, and this includes during independent reading time.

Of course, I don’t want to interrupt their actual reading time. But as students are getting settled, I say things like:

“I see Nicole already opened her book and is reading—wow!” or “Julio has a stack of five books and is ready to get started.”

After we have independent reading time, I name specific students and the positive reading behaviors that they demonstrated during independent reading time.

I also love to take photos of students who are following my expectations and show them to students after independent reading time is over!

Provide choices, but not all at once.

I like to have my students select their own books, the physical location in the classroom where they read, the way that they respond to texts, and sometimes their sharing partners.

However…I don’t feel obligated to give them ALL of these choices at the beginning of the school year! I prefer to start with structured choices and ease into things.

For example:

  • Eventually, my students select books from the classroom library. At the beginning of the school year, I provide them with baskets of books on their tables to choose from. They still have choice, but I give myself time to thoroughly teach them how to use the classroom library.
  • Eventually, my students choose their independent reading spots. But at first, they read at their tables. Eventually, I might assign spots throughout the classroom. We gradually work up to free (mostly) choice.

Gradually build stamina.

I’m sure you already know this, but it’s so important to start out small at the beginning of the school year! I usually give my Kinders only 1-2 minutes of independent reading time at the beginning. First graders and second graders might get 5 minutes. We add on a minute every day or every few days until we reach our ultimate independent reading time goal.

Track and celebrate progress.

You might create a bar graph to chart how many minutes students read independently on a daily basis. This is a great way for students to visually see their progress!

Motivate students with sharing time.

At the end of independent reading, I leave a few minutes for sharing time. During sharing time, students can share a favorite picture or part of a book with a partner, or they can share something that they wrote on a sticky note. Start simple at the beginning of the year.

It can be hard to make time for sharing time, but I think it’s so helpful in motivating students to stay on-track during independent reading. It also enables you to make comments like, “I hope you are finding something interesting to share with your partner!” when you notice a student who is off-task. 😉

Don’t…

Stop the entire class just because one or two students are struggling.

I’ve heard it suggested that you should stop independent reading time if even one student gets off-track. The class comes back together, revisits expectations, and then tries again. The purpose of this practice is to set high expectations from the start of the school year and help build stamina. I get that.

HOWEVER. Sometimes I have a little friend (or two) who has a lot of trouble with independent reading. Perhaps there are behavior or attention or emotional issues at play. In these cases, I do not recommend completely stopping independent reading time just because this one child is off-task. The other students may become annoyed, resentful, and not build their own stamina as a result (I’ve seen this begin to happen when I tried this “stopping” practice).

You, of course, have to make your own decisions based upon what you feel is right for your kids! But I highly recommend coming up with other options for kiddos who have unique needs (instead of stopping the entire class). Maybe they can read for a couple of minutes and then draw a picture about what they read. Or maybe you provide them with more support/attention.

Blame yourself if students still haven’t met your stamina goal after a month or two of school.

You might be doing everything “correctly” and still have students who are off-task. Or maybe your class hasn’t reached your stamina goal.

It’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up! These are children, remember? Just like us, they aren’t perfect! 🙂

Although a lot of “stamina building” can take place at the beginning of the year, you still have an entire school year ahead of you. As your students grow and change, you may be able to extend the amount of time that they read independently.

From a perfectionist who wants to get everything done ASAP, I’m telling you…grant yourself some grace if your students aren’t quite where you’d like them to be even after 6 weeks of practice.

Conclusions

If you’re looking for complete lessons to help you teach independent reading procedures or set up reading workshop, check out my new shared reading units HERE!

Also, keep your eyes peeled for some free online workshops that I’ll be teaching—coming in September! You can sign up below to be notified when they are ready:


Happy teaching!!




12 Post-Reading Activity Ideas for Shared Reading (K-2)

Want your students to “do something” with the shared reading text after shared reading is over? Sure, they can draw or write about the text, but sometimes it’s fun to do something a little different!

In today’s quick post, I share 12 activities that students can complete after a shared reading experience. Most of these activities work great for literacy centers or Daily Five!Grab some great ideas for literacy centers or Daily Five in this post! Great for using after shared reading in Kindergarten, first, or second grade.

Photo Credits:  AnatasiaNi, Shutterstock

1. Reread the same text! Simple, I know, but primary kiddos love to have a chance to reread the same text that you read during shared reading! Big books are especially fun; let them use your special pointer too! Even if you don’t use big books, try to find multiple copies of the text. If you’re doing shared reading with a poem, it’s even easier to get it into the hands of students. Just make copies and allow them to keep the poems in a folder or independent reading bag!

2. Do an alphabet letter, sight word, or phonics pattern hunt with the text. Again, this is super simple, but practicing letters, sight words, and phonics patterns is even more meaningful when our students do it in the context of a real text. Specify a print feature that students should look for, and use some detective props to make the activity super engaging.

3. Illustrate a poem or text without words. This is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate comprehension of the text! Students can illustrate poems or even nonfiction articles.

4. Perform a Reader’s Theatre version of the text. Any story can be turned into a Reader’s Theatre and performed by your students! You can create the Reader’s Theatre text, the class can work together to create it as a shared writing activity, or students can create them in partners/small groups. Students can then practice and perform their scripts!

5. Sequence pictures to show what happened in the text. Use clipart or photos to have students sequence events in the text. Or have students create their own pictures and then have a friend sequence them!

6. Complete a cloze reading passage activity based on the text. A cloze reading passage is one that has words missing from it. Students have to fill in missing words from a word bank. Let’s say that your shared reading text was about bats. You might use the same facts (or even parts of the actual text) for the cloze reading activity.

Example:

Bats are nocturnal, which means that they sleep during the _______. At night, they hunt or find food. Bats eat many different things. Some bats ____ fruit. Other bats eat insects. 

7. Draw thought or speech bubbles for the characters at various points in the text. This activity is tons of fun AND allows kids to demonstrate their comprehension. If you are using large enough books, students can take large sticky notes and write thought / speech bubbles for the characters (and then stick them on the actual pages of the text). Or, photocopy specific images from the text (always follow Fair Use guidelines) and have students add thought or speech bubbles.

8. Match dialogue to characters. Present students with the names and pictures of different characters. Provide them with strips of paper that have different dialogue parts from the text. Have students play “Who Said What?” and match the dialogue to the correct character. You can also play “Who WOULD Say That?” and provide students with imaginary dialogue. (Students have to use what they know about a character to figure out who would say what.)

9. Create additional text features. Once your students have learned about text features, have them “help” an author by adding things like labels, captions, and maps to the texts you read.

10. Write headings for a nonfiction text without headings. This is a great activity for when you’re beginning to teach summarizing, main idea, or main topic! In order to write a heading, students need to understand what a section is mostly about.

11. Write or answer riddles about the text. You can create riddles for students to answer, or students can create their own riddles. For example, let’s say that your shared reading text was about different types of snakes. A possible riddle might be: “I am small, green, and not poisonous. Who am I?” (Students have to identify the snake named in the book.) Or, here’s a fiction example using Jack and the Beanstalk: I lived in the giant’s castle until Jack took me. Now I help Jack and his mother every day. Who am I?” (The goose that lays golden eggs)

12. Read a related text. You can present students with different options for “digging deeper.” This might mean that you provide books by the same author, different version of the same fairy tale, other texts on the same nonfiction topic, or a nonfiction text about something related to the topic of a fictional story. This promotes students’ curiosity and helps them learn to make connections between texts!

BONUS!

I know that I said there would be 12 ideas, but here’s one last bonus one! 🙂

Create a commercial for the book. Students can create a print or video ad to promote the book. These commercials can be shared with other classes or even posted in the hallway for other students to see.

More Shared Reading Resources

Looking for more shared reading resources? To view my Kindergarten, first grade, or second grade shared reading units (that are brand new!!), click HERE.

Happy teaching!

References

Fountas, I., & Pinnell, G. S. (2016). The Fountas and Pinnell Literacy Continuum: Expanded Edition. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Parkes, B. (2000). Read it again!: Revisiting shared reading. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.




How to Teach Vocabulary During Shared Reading in K-2

When I think about teaching vocabulary, I often think about readalouds. Quality readalouds are often filled with interesting, useful vocabulary words that we can teach our students.

However, another great time to teach vocabulary (and vocabulary strategies) is during shared reading.

In today’s post, I’ll share tips for teaching vocabulary during shared reading, as well as some free vocabulary strategy posters!

Want some ideas and free strategy posters for teaching vocabulary? Click through to this post - the vocabulary strategies are perfect for Kindergarten, first, and second grade!Photo Credits: SpeedKingz, Shutterstock

Two Types of Vocabulary Teaching

During shared reading, my vocabulary instruction usually takes one of two forms:

  • Telling students the meaning of a word (direct vocabulary instruction)
  • Modeling or having students help me use a vocabulary strategy to figure out the meaning of a word (vocabulary strategy instruction)

Direct Vocabulary Instruction

In Kindergarten and first grade, the majority of the books I choose for shared reading have simple vocabulary words. (I choose shared reading books that are 1-2 reading levels above what my students are reading, hence the limited vocabulary.)

Most of the vocabulary words found in shared reading texts (especially in Kinder and first, and sometimes second grade) can be considered Tier One Words.

What are Tier One Words? Well, Beck and McKeown (2002) proposed that vocabulary words be categorized into three tiers:

Tier One words are those that are frequently used in the English language (basic terms like “walk” or “river”). Students will inherently learn many of these words from their everyday experiences and school instruction.

Tier Two words don’t appear as often and are harder for students to learn through context (i.e., “merchant”). Beck recommends that most vocabulary instruction focus on these Tier Two words.

Tier Three words are those that are encountered even less frequently and are specific to academic subject matter (i.e., “circumference”).

Again, in my experience, many of the words in shared reading texts I use with my primary students are Tier One words.

However, this does not mean that these Tier One words don’t need to be taught! Here’s why:

  1. It’s one thing for students to understand what a word means (more or less) when they hear it or read it. For students to be able to use the word in their speech or writing, however, they must have a better grasp of the word. Through shared reading and extension activities, I have an opportunity to help add these Tier One words to students’  productive vocabulary (using it in speech and writing), when it may have only been part of their receptive vocabulary (understanding it when they hear or read it) previously.
  2. Some of our students actually do need instruction in those “simple” Tier One words. Marzano states in Teaching Basic and Advanced Vocabulary (2010): “There are at least two types of students who are in unique, precarious situations regarding basic vocabulary development: students from a background of poverty…and English Language Learners” (p. 5). I don’t love the poverty generalization from this quote, because there are always many exceptions. I don’t ever think it’s a good idea to assume that children from certain backgrounds will inherently have lower vocabularies. However, given the research, the growing number of ELLs in our classrooms, and the fact that all children are perhaps engaging in fewer conversations with adults (more screen time), I think it’s safe to say that many of our students can benefit from Tier One vocabulary instruction.

Of course, Tier Two words also appear in our shared reading texts, especially as the texts become more difficult. Shared reading is a great time to teach Tier Two words, also.

So how do we teach these words? I usually follow a variation of Marzano’s six-step process for teaching vocabulary. Here are those six steps:

STEP 1: I explain the new vocabulary word. (In the context of shared reading, I sometimes do this before we read, and sometimes when we encounter the word in the text.)

STEP 2: Students explain the new vocabulary word in their own words. (I’ll have students explain what the word means to a partner and then call on a student or two to share out.)

STEP 3: Students create a drawing or picture to represent the word. (During shared reading, I don’t stop and have students do this. Sometimes I may have the kids help me create a drawing as a class. If there’s an important vocabulary word that I want to focus on, I can have students draw a picture after shared reading is over.)

STEPS 4-6: Students participate in activities, games, and opportunities to expand their knowledge of the word and discuss it with others. Steps 3-6 are the most challenging for me, because I often feel like I “don’t have time” for these activities, and I’m not super consistent with revisiting the same vocabulary words across time. I’m definitely a work in progress in this area. 🙂

Vocabulary Strategy Instruction

In addition to direct vocabulary instruction, I model specific vocabulary strategies during shared reading. Also, since students can see the words of the text, they can actively participate in using the strategies I teach (guided practice).

So what are those strategies? I’ve listed 7 of them below (and I have free strategy posters for you)!

I don’t teach all of these strategies in every grade level. I typically teach strategies 1-3 in Kindergarten (sometimes also #4), strategies 1-5 in first grade, and strategies 1-6 in second grade. I teach strategy #7 in all grades.

Strategy #1 is particularly important because many students will not even attempt to figure out what a new word means. Many kids need to learn to pay attention and be on the lookout for words that are new to them. So Strategy #1 is important! (Strategy #7 is also essential, since we don’t want students to get so caught up in trying to figure out what a word means that they stop reading and get stuck!)

Strategy #1: Pay attention to words that are new to you. Stop reading and try to figure out what a new word means.

Strategy #2: If you don’t know what a word means, look at the picture.

Strategy #3: If you don’t know what a word means, look for a part of the word that you’ve seen before.

Strategy #4: If you don’t know what a word means, look for it in the glossary.

Strategy #5: If you don’t know what a word means, reread the sentence and use context clues.

Strategy #6: If you don’t know what a word means, replace it with another word that might be a synonym. Reread the sentence and see if it makes sense.

Strategy #7: If you don’t know what a word means and you’ve already tried a few strategies, keep reading.

You can download all of these strategy posters by filling in your information below—they will be sent right to your email for free!


Conclusions

Shared reading is a great time for direct vocabulary instruction, as well as strategy instruction. If you need resources for teaching shared reading, check out my new shared reading units for Kindergarten, first, or second grade. Click HERE to read about them!

Happy teaching!

References

Beck, I.L., McKeown, M.G., & Kucan, L. (2002). Bringing words to life: Robust vocabulary instruction. New York: Guilford Press.

Marzano, R. J. (2010). Teaching basic and advanced vocabulary. Boston, MA: Heinle.




5 Tips for Teaching Comprehension During Shared Reading (in K-2)

Any time we read a book with students, comprehension is a priority!

However, comprehension instruction and practice take different forms, depending on the type of instructional activity we are doing. In today’s post, I focus on how to address comprehension during shared reading activities.What should comprehension instruction look like during shared reading? Click to read this post for ideas!

Photo Credits:  weedezign, Shutterstock

1. The first time you read a text, focus primarily on comprehension.

As I explained in previous shared reading posts, I usually reread a shared reading text several times with my students.

There are so many different things that can be taught with just one text—fluency strategies, decoding strategies, sight words, print concepts, phonics patterns…the list goes on!

However, it’s too much to try to squeeze ALL of that into one read! (That’s why rereading is so valuable.)

The first time we read the text, my goal is simply for students to UNDERSTAND it. I usually read the shared reading text all the way through during the first read. (During subsequent reads, I usually focus only on a part of the text at a time.)

During this first read, I might model or have students assist me in using a comprehension strategy (i.e., making predictions or activating background knowledge prior to reading). I also do some thinkalouds, saying things like:

  • “Right now I’m thinking…”
  • “I’m wondering…”
  • “I predict…”
  • “I infer…”

At the same time, I try not to make the shared reading experience too “teacher-talk heavy.” I do some modeling, sure, but I also have students actively participate by asking them to share what they are thinking, make predictions with a partner, share prior knowledge and new learnings, retell the text after we finish reading, and so on.

Typically the only other thing we do during that first reading is a little decoding work (because the words are new to the students, this is a great time for me to model a decoding strategy and/or have them help me choose a decoding strategy to figure out a tricky word). This decoding work is quick, since our focus is comprehension.

2. Save many of your higher-order thinking questions for your rereads.

During our first read of a shared reading text, I ask some literal comprehension questions to get students thinking and see if they are understanding the text. I may ask a higher-order thinking question as well.

However, many of my kids will be more successful with answering higher-order thinking questions after they’ve heard the text more than once. So I make sure to ask 1-2 of these types of questions every time we reread the text.

Here are a few examples of questions I ask:

  • If you were the main character, how would you have solved the problem?
  • How can you take what we learned from this text and use it in real life?
  • What would you add to this text?
  • What was the most important part? Why?
  • What does the author think about this topic? How do you know?

If you get in the habit of asking 1-2 of these questions each time you read your shared reading text, it will a) get students comfortable with answering these questions, b) provide support through multiple rereads, and c) remind you to address comprehension in some way each time you read the text—even if your main teaching point is something different, like fluency or decoding.

3. Remember to actually TEACH comprehension strategies, rather than just asking questions.

Asking students questions is an important part of shared reading (or any reading experience). But when we ask a comprehension question, we are mostly trying to find out if students comprehended the text.

We have to ALSO teach them HOW to comprehend the text in the first place! This is where comprehension strategy instruction comes in.

Some examples of comprehension strategies are:

  • Make predictions before you read and while you read
  • Ask questions and read to find the answers
  • Figure out who the most important characters are
  • Stop periodically and make sure you understand what the author is saying
  • If you get confused, reread the last paragraph / page

These are things that we want our students to do during shared reading AND on their own. Shared reading is a great time to introduce strategies, model them, and help students as they try them out with the shared reading text.

4. Have students participate in the meaning-making process as much as possible!

Although teaching comprehension strategies is a “must,” we don’t want shared reading to be all about teacher talk and modeling.

If you think about the gradual release of responsibility, shared reading falls somewhere in between a readaloud and guided reading. In a readaloud, we do the vast majority of the work. In guided reading, students do most of the work. So shared reading is somewhere in-between.

To achieve this balance, I usually do a little modeling earlier in a lesson and then have students help me practice afterward. Here are some simple ways to get students to actively participate in the shared reading experience (these work for teaching comprehension as well as other strategies):

  • Think-Pair-Share (students talk with a partner before you call on 1-2 students to share out)
  • Sticky note writing (pass out sticky notes and pencils before the lesson and choose a few places where students will draw or write to share their ideas)
  • Select a student leader or two (have a student come up to the front of the class and be the teacher, demonstrating a strategy that he/she recommends for the text)
  • Ask open-ended, broad questions (“What are you thinking right now?” “What are you wondering about?” “What strategy should we try?” “How can we check to make sure we understand this text?”)

5. Find fun ways for your students to demonstrate their comprehension of the text!

I’ll go more in-depth on shared reading extension activities in a future post, but here are a few ways that students might demonstrate their comprehension. Some of these can be done whole-group, but many of these ideas also make great activities for literacy centers or Daily 5:

  • Act out the text (whole class or small groups; can be done with/without props or puppets)
  • Create a page to add to the text
  • Create a brief video to share information / ideas from the text
  • Write a sequel or prequel to the text
  • Write a play or Reader’s Theatre piece based on the text

Conclusions

If you’re looking for more guidance in teaching comprehension during shared reading, check out my NEW Flexible Shared Reading Units for Reading Workshop! These lessons are for K, 1st, and 2nd, and they provide book and activity ideas for teaching comprehension (and many other strategies) during shared reading.

Happy teaching!




How to Teach Fluency During Shared Reading (K-2)

In my most recent posts, I’ve defined shared reading, explained how it’s different from a readaloud, and given some tips for choosing great texts for shared reading.

Now it’s time to really dig in deep! In my next few posts, we’re going to talk more about the “what” and “how” of shared reading.

Today’s focus is fluency. Shared reading presents a great opportunity to teach fluency because…

  • We can model fluent reading as we read the text aloud to students
  • Our students can join in and practice fluent reading through choral reading (and occasional echo reading)
  • Our students can SEE the print, so we can easily discuss fluency-related topics like punctuation marks
  • Shared reading often involves reading and rereading a single text, which helps develop fluency

In this post, I’ll suggest some fluency strategies to teach during shared reading (for K-2), provide a freebie, and share my favorite materials for teaching fluency (like this book)!

Looking for some fluency activities or fluency tips for shared reading? Click to read this blog post and grab the fluency freebie!Photo Credits:  oleksa, Shutterstock

What Is Fluency?

First of all, what is fluency? It’s not just reading quickly!

Fluency includes:

  • Accurate word recognition (reading correctly)
  • Automatic word recognition (reading the vast majority of words without having to sound them out)
  • Prosody (reading with expression)
  • Phrasing (reading in appropriate phrases, rather than word by word)
  • Stress (emphasizing certain words rather than others)
  • Attention to punctuation (pausing and changing voice appropriately)
  • Reading pace

Reading fluency is both an indication of comprehension AND a pathway to comprehension.

It’s an indication of comprehension because reading fluently involves reading with expression, phrasing, etc. that reflects the meaning of the text.

It’s a pathway to comprehension because developing fluency, particularly accuracy and automaticity, can free up the reader’s attention to comprehend the text.

So fluency is important. But you probably already knew that, since you’re reading this post! 🙂

Fluency Strategies to Teach During Shared Reading

Many instructional activities help develop fluency, including teaching phonics and sight words so that kids can decode words in the first place.

But for the purposes of this post, let’s focus mostly on prosody, phrasing, stress, and attention to punctuation.

Here are some strategies—and activities—you might teach primary students during shared reading to help develop these particular fluency skills. I did my best to rank them from easier to more difficult:

Strategy #1: Read like you are talking, not like a robot!

This is usually the first fluency strategy I teach my Kindergarten students (but older kiddos may need to learn it too).

I take out a big book that I’ve already read once or twice to students. I say, “I’m going to reread this page, but I’m going to do something wrong. Listen carefully to see if you can figure out what I’m doing that’s not quite right.”

Then, I read the page in my best robot voice. 🙂 Afterward, I ask students, “What did you notice?” I listen to their ideas and point out that my reading sounded like a robot. I explain that we want to make our reading voices sound like we are talking. We don’t want to sound like robots! I then reread the page and have students join in to help me read like a “human.”

I revisit this quick lesson regularly (by reading in a monotone voice and having students correct me). I always follow it up by modeling proper fluency and having students join in.

Strategy #2: Make your voice match what is happening in the story.

Once you and your students have read a story once, revisit it with the purpose of teaching this strategy. Before you read, have your students help you make a “fluency plan.” Page through the story, showing them the pictures. Ask, “In this part of the story, how should my voice sound? Why?” You can also discuss how different characters’ voices should sound different (and reflect character emotions).

After you’ve made your plan, you might do some quick modeling and then invite students to help you practice this strategy as you reread.

Strategy #3: Match your voice to the ending punctuation.

When we get to a period, our voice goes down at the end. When we get to a question mark, our voice goes up. When we see an exclamation point, we read with lots of emotion. And our eyes skip ahead to check the ending punctuation mark so we can read each sentence accordingly!

If you want to focus on ending punctuation during shared reading, you can have students go through a familiar text and help you mark the punctuation marks (perhaps with highlighting tape or sticky flags). Then, begin reading together. Since the punctuation marks are highlighted, it’ll be a bit easier for students to attend to them as they read.

Strategy #4: Match your voice to the genre of the text. Imagine that you are the author reading the text!

In some ways, I think expression can be easier and more fun to teach with fiction. We pretend to be the characters for the dialogue parts and storytellers for the narration parts.

But expression still matters when students read nonfiction!

When we are practicing reading nonfiction with expression, I ask my students to imagine that they are the authors of the book. The topic of the book is obviously interesting to the author, and he/she wouldn’t read it aloud in a monotone voice! I also encourage them to pay plenty of attention to ending punctuation marks, as this will also affect the expression with which they should read.

Strategy #5: Pause at commas and periods.

I teach my students that a period is a small stop, and a comma is an even smaller stop! Again, just like with Strategy #3, you can have students help you highlight these punctuation marks prior to rereading a text.

Another fun thing to do is play “These don’t belong here!” You can write commas and periods on sticky notes and allow a few students to place them wherever they’d like on a few pages of your shared reading book. Then, read aloud and show them how different (and silly) the text sounds with those additional pauses.

Strategy #6: If a word is tricky for you, slow down to figure it out. Then, speed back up!

Do you have some students who tend to speed through a text, glossing over tricky words? Something I do frequently during shared reading is say, “Let’s imagine that there’s a word on this page that is tricky for me. Watch quietly while I show you what I do.” I model how I read the sentence, slow down to figure out the word, and then restart the sentence to get back to my original reading pace. I tell students that it’s a good thing to slow down sometimes. Focusing on fluency doesn’t mean that we want our students to read so quickly that they don’t stop to problem-solve!

Strategy #7: Scoop up words and read them in phrases.

This is one of the more advanced fluency strategies I teach, and I like to teach it with shared reading texts that I can mark up (i.e., articles or printable passages).

The purpose of teaching students to read words in phrases is a) to discourage word-by-word reading in favor of smoother reading, and b) to facilitate meaning making. Reading words in phrases requires the reader to think about which words “go together.”

To work on this strategy, I have students watch me (or help me) mark up a very short text before I read it. Once I’ve modeled reading in phrases, we all practice together. I also model the opposite to show them what not to do (reading word-by-word).

Also, teaching fluency during shared reading goes far beyond just teaching these strategies. We practice fluency during just about every shared reading experience. I model fluency as I read to them, we practice it together as the kids join in with me, and I’m constantly pointing out how my voice changes as I read different parts of a text and different texts. The act of reading and rereading the same text, as we do during shared reading, develops fluency in itself.

Want to download this list of fluency strategies plus all of these fluency strategy visuals? Fill in your information in the boxes below, and they will be emailed right to your inbox!


Must-Have Materials for Teaching Fluency

The nice thing about fluency is that it doesn’t require a ton of “stuff.” It mostly just requires some great texts—ones that students will enjoy reading over and over again!

One new resource that is absolutely a MUST-HAVE for teaching fluency is Rasinski & Smith’s The Megabook of Fluency! This book has a ton of fluency activities that can be used in shared reading and beyond.

I love this book - tons of fluency activities!

In exchange for sharing about this book, I received a free copy from Scholastic. And BOY did I hit the jackpot!!

This book contains:

  • Fluency activity ideas (you can incorporate many of them into shared reading)
  • Printable activities (like “Phrasing Nonsense,” where kids insert random punctuation marks into the alphabet or a series of numbers and then read them with the appropriate expression)
  • Poems and other brief texts to read

I love this book - tons of fluency activities!

I’ve been using the activities with some of my summer school reading intervention kiddos, and they are in love! 😍 You can grab this book HERE!

A few of my other favorite materials for having kids work on fluency during other times of the day (i.e., guided reading or literacy centers) include:

  • Whisper phones (so the kids can hear their own voices even when they are reading quietly)
  • Tablets or other audio recording devices (kids can read / perform texts, listen back, and work to improve their fluency)

Conclusion

If you have a great idea for teaching fluency during shared reading, please share in a comment below! And don’t forget to grab those free fluency visuals, if you haven’t yet!

Happy teaching!