Sunday, March 30

Building a Fluency Continuum

All year long we have worked very hard to build fluency in our first grade class!

We’ve worked on it by, through and during...


shared reading 

repeated reading



independent level books read during Private Reading

See, our school district switched over to the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project for our Reading (and Writing) Workshop this year and we’ve been deep in the throes of learning and implementing all kinds of strategies.

I'm still learning and tweaking and refining but can overall say that I am enjoying the change.

One reason is the increased amount of time we've been able to spend on building fluency.

Recently, I decided we should "put it all together" and take what we've learned about how fluent readers sound and build a continuum.

Here's how we built our continuum...

Over the course of the year we have had all kinds of lessons and practice on elements of fluent reading.

On our continuum, each element has its own color (selected randomly).

Phrasing - Red

Expression - Orange

Pace - Yellow

Punctuation - Green

Self-Monitoring - Blue

I tried to break each element down into a range of 4 levels...AND make it kid-friendly & succinct enough to fit on the 10 x 2.75 pieces of Astrobright paper I had pre-cut. (And I really didn't want to have to go to the paper cutter a few rooms down to re-cut.)

Do I think my wording is perfect? No.

Do my students know what it means? Absolutely.

So I'm stickin' with it.


So, the wording was already written when I started the lesson.

Sidebar: Could I have spent time with my class generating the qualities of each level instead of writing them out ahead of the lesson? Yep. But I was limited on time and I chose to do it this way, this year.

Since there were five categories, I put the kids randomly into five groups and sent them to their work areas, delivered the cards and the kids got to work, putting the cards from their category in order from 1 to 4 (least to most fluent).

Once the groups had laid them out in order, we traveled around as a whole group to agree and tweak each group's findings.

Here is a close up...

And there you have it - our fluency continuum. What do you love to do to help your readers understand fluency?

Sunday, March 9

Partner Reading Tips

Partner Reading is one of those times that can lose it's power unless you have intentionally built a little structure. Here are five helpful tips for increasing the quality of Partner Talk during Partner Reading.

Reading Workshop

My firsties keep building their Private Reading stamina and I'm so proud of them! During Private Reading, students are reading books that THEY have shopped for from our classroom library that are at their independent reading level. (The one or two levels just below their instructional level.)

After Private Reading is over, students have Partner Reading time with their reading partner who is reading at a similar-ish reading level. Personality and work ethic are also weighed while developing partnerships.

Grouping by similar-ish reading level is NOT the only way to partner kiddos up. I found that at the beginning of the year, when students had fairly vast differences in their levels, it made choral reading a lot easier if readers were working in similar levels.

Currently, there's a bit more similarISHness to the partnerships...meaning, kids are tackling more difficult text at this stage of the year, so partnerships involve a wider range of reading levels.

I use my conferring notes to figure out the example right now is a student working in level J who tends to have a speedy pace, which doesn't allow for using his "narrator voice." He is partnered up with a more expressive reader who is reading several levels below him. It has been working really well and they actually COACH one another on their specific goals. LOVE!

Building quality into our Partner Reading has taken time and effort, on my part and the students! And there is ALWAYS room for tweaking and improvement!

Before I get to each specific tip, I want to share the absolute number one foundational tip for successful partner reading...

I can't say enough about this.


That said...please know that I am NEVER coming from a place that I am better than ANYone else!!! I sincerely appreciate variety and differences and would LOVE to hear your suggestions, ideas and tips!

I'm also always open to questions...sometimes I answer them directly below your comment using that Reply feature...other times they lead me to new post topics.

Partner Reading Tip 1

This menu has changed over the course of the year. This is what it looks like currently:

When I haven't provided an element of structure, the conversation has been of lower quality.

Some of the great things I've heard recently, using the first menu suggestion...

"This is the most hilarious part..."

"Here is the most thrilling part..."

LOVE hearing them use their Precise Words!!!

Partner Reading Tip 2

At the beginning of the year, Partner Reading was 3-4 mn. Now, it's 5-7 mn. The longer they have, the more tangential the conversations become. Common Core wants readers to stay within the four corners of the text, so I tend to keep it brief, with a bit of accountability.

We have a big visual timer in our room and I set it each day.

Partner Reading Tip 3

At least two times a week, I make a point of roaming around and listening carefully to the conversations (while trying not to make it appear too obvious to the pair (or trio) that I'm eavesdropping on.

The days that I don't roam it's because I'm finishing up with (or squeezing in one more) individual conference, guided reading or strategy group.

When I have roamed to eavesdrop on conversations, when the timer beeps, I share the quality snippets that I've heard with the rest of the class.

Partners ADORE their shout outs!!! And I love their beaming faces...or even the sweet face that is beaming but a little self-conscious about it and trying a wee bit to contain it. What sweethearts!

Partner Reading Tip 4

The bulletin board below is made using 5x7 sized Post-It Notes so that I can change them out to match our current Reading Workshop Unit.

This is what our sentence stem ideas are currently...

When I read aloud, I use these stems to share my thinking and have students ask me questions from the board so we can practice having a conversation similar to what they should be doing in Partner Reading.

The kids LOVE being the one who asks...they especially love asking, "And what is your evidence, Mrs. Mattes?" Cuties.

I'll also have them CONTINUE the conversation by adding and building on what I have said. Sometimes these conversations have lots of "volleys" where a student (or students) and I have had several exchanges to build upon the topic.

Partner Reading Tip 5

We re-visit and update these as needed...this set is what we're currently working from...
Again, we're especially looking for kiddos to stay within the text and BUILD on the conversation with their partner rather than veer away from it. I realllly look for those types of conversations to highlight and shout out!

Another way to help readers be accountable to this is to utilize the iPad. We are blessed to have 8 iPads in our classroom, which means that many partnerships can record their conversations if they're taught how to set up and record their conversation using the video feature.

Students that feel they've conducted a model conversation can request that their conversation be mirrored to the Smartboard for the class to see and provide feedback.

Powerful stuff.

When kids plan ahead, they use mini sticky notes to mark their work in their Reading Notebook and to mark the specific pages in their books that they'd like to discuss.

Thanks for stopping by today! Please share a Partner Reading Tip below, so we can all learn from each other!
© Growing Firsties. All rights reserved.
Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by Pipdig