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Fluency

First impressions with classroom doors

As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression! I thought it might be fun to show some pictures of back-to-school classroom doors. Please check out our Pinterest board to see some great ones. If you have a picture of your own door to share, please let us know by commenting below. Enjoy!

Fluency in kindergarten

One of my very favorite kindergarten teachers emailed me last week with the following question:

I have a Big Question for you. How would you assess fluency in kindergarten? Where would you begin? With letter names or beginning sounds or word lists? Or would you wait until a student is reading passages? If you would recommend assessing fluency in kindergarten, what tool(s) would you use?

Careful watching and listening during those first few days of school

First day jitters? First week jitters? Assessing kids those first few days and weeks of school probably isn't a great idea. Kids need a chance to settle in to school, to learn the new routine, and generally become more comfortable in the new classroom. Hopefully, by waiting, a child's assessment results more accurately reflect her true skills.

Monitoring self-monitoring

I recently read a post about recognizing, teaching, and supporting self-monitoring behaviors in young readers. The post describes two readers: David, who asks questions and self corrects word errors as he reads, and Frannie, who plows through text regardless of errors that either change the meaning of the text, include nonsense words, or don't make any sense at all. The author stresses how important it is for readers to think about what they are saying as they read.

Teach handwriting. Really!

Richard Gentry and Steve Graham reaffirm the research about the importance of spelling and handwriting instruction in a new white paper. I'll write about the spelling research in a separate post, this one will focus on handwriting.

Reading at home: "You either get angry or you can bribe them"

Last week's blog post about Accelerated Reader generated some great comments, both here on the blog and also on our Facebook page. I love that the audience for this blog appears to be a combination of parents, teachers, principals, reading specialists, grandparents, special education teachers, graduate students….

A comment from last week's post inspired this week's title. Alex's comment was a dead-on piece of reality:

We're hot! We're bored!

What's a Mom/reading specialist to do? We're 8 days into summer vacation, and we've already run out of things to do. If you're at my house, the answer is…. Reader's Theater!

My girls have always loved to put on a show. They love dress up, props, and performing for an audience. Molly and Anna had a friend over, so they recruited her to join in too.

Nonsense, as in nonsense words

Mog.
Fim.
Phum.
Sote.
Pagbo.

Just a few examples of the types of words students are asked to read on a Nonsense Word assessment. Some assessments are timed (how many nonsense words can you read in one minute?), and some assessments use a ceiling (stop when the student incorrectly reads 5 in a row).

23 words per minute

I have the pleasure of working one-on-one with several beginning readers, my own and a handful of others. There's nothing more amazing than sitting beside a new reader and listening to them as they "get" reading. It's something that you hear — their reading goes from word to word, choppy, and staccato-sounding to more phrasal, intonated, and just plain faster. But, how fast?

Words Correct per Minute (WCPM) is one way to determine a student's reading fluency. Quick probes based on carefully selected passages can help teachers screen, diagnose, and monitor students' progress.

Putting fluency in its place

For six years I trained and observed preservice elementary education students. I vividly remember one lesson, observing a student teacher whose lesson plan included using timed repeated readings to increase her students' reading speed.

Everything started off well until I saw the text she planned to use: A POEM. For timed repeated readings! I watched as she worked with students one-on-one using some of her favorite Shel Silverstein poems and a bar graph.

"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl