Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Reading Strategies Book: Goal 4 Reflection

At this point in the book study, I am beginning to feel like I am one with the #ReadingStrategiesCrew! I can't thank them enough for hosting this book study because it is forcing nudging me to spend my last few days of summer/beginning of the new school year actively involved and intrigued in sharpening my saw. I am getting better, my students will get better, and hopefully I can share this knowledge in my school and across my district and then truly everything is better. It's sappy- but I just love this. I'd love to do something like this of my own in my school/PLN- and maybe after this book study is over- I can look into starting one of my own. Just the thought is exciting!

With that said, I am back here to post my reflection of Goal 4: Teaching Fluency of The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo. I say it every time, but seriously, buy the book. If you're a reading specialist, teacher, or just flat out come in contact with students- this book will help! Buy it!

(If you want to check out my previous reflections, find them here: Goal 1, Goal 2, and Goal 3.)

There are so many wonderful snap-quotes from this goal- and I'd be crazy not to highlight a few of them here right now. One of the first lines that jumped out to me, Serravallo points out when talking about why teaching fluency is important, "Try to read a text in a staccato, word-by-word, monotone fashion and you will soon discover you understood and remember very few if any of the words you read." (Page 104). But similarly, she points out that reading eloquently is not always the key either. She explains, " It's important that in our attempts to teach children to read fluently, we don't send the message that reading is just about performing." (Page 104). I love this juxtaposition. It's not one or the other. Lots of factors combine for good fluency and it is important that we teach students that there is no one right path.

Now comes the moment that I am pretty sure Jennifer Serravallo and I might share a brain. I started teaching in the time of AIMSweb CBM's and MAZE tests and these were heavily focused on timing students. I take full responsibility for administering those tests and thinking I was doing the right thing- because really I did have honest intentions- but as I grew as a teacher and my mind grew as a Reading Specialist, that just seemed wrong. Here's how Serravallo puts it, "I'm not a fan of determining fluency as a goal by holding up a stopwatch as kids read because I believe that children often start to view reading aloud as performance and they stop monitoring for meaning, invalidating the assessment overall, or they feel pressured and the results are skewed by their anxiety." (Page 105).  YES YES YES YES YES YES YES. Again, I am guilty. I did this. I thought it was right. But I have learned the error in my ways and have become such a better thinker and teacher because of it. It just makes more sense. If we want to know how kids are reading, just LISTEN to them and don't freak them out by making them feel like the globe is going to explode after some arbitrary time limit is up. My only stray thought on this is that, at some point, if a student has been reading for sooooooo long that even I forget what the beginning of the text was, I am reluctant to say the student is fluent at that level. But that's just my current thought- and that could change too. That's the beauty of education. If you are willing to grow and change and become better- you can. It's all up to you!

Here's my three focus strategies for this goal- 4.5: Say Goodbye to Robot Reading, 4.12: Fluency Phone for Feedback, and 4.18: Partners Can Be Fluency Teachers. Again, check out the book because all of them are amazing- but I just felt a little closer to these three.

I love this strategy because it signifies a time as readers move from finger under the word matching to phrasing and fluency. So right about after levels A-C, we start to see students using this strategy and we need to be on the lookout for when students are ready for this strategy. It's also day to implement- check out the visual:

It's pretty clear. Start to chunk the sentence into phrases and you will begin to sound less like a robot and more like a fluent reader. It seems simple but it is a huge step in the right direction to a lifetime of successful, fluent reading.

I have to focus on the visual right away for this one- because it really is the whole strategy!

This is a fluency phone! They're amazing. You can buy them from lots of places or even make your own out of PVC pieces. My mom, who is owner/educator at Learning Trek Academy (a reading readiness/early literacy program for children ages 3 and up in the Northwest suburbs of Illinois), uses these homemade fluency phones and the students love them. She began this fantastic program in 2003 and has used these phones as a fun tool to help students really 'hear' themselves as they read or talk. It's pretty adorable to watch, actually! 

I chose this last strategy because this one, and some others in this goal, focus on using partners. I love the idea that students can reach out to one another for help with their learning journey. Plus, as you can see below, the anchor chart for this one is fabulous! So helpful and easy for students to understand! It's a idea of the past that the teacher is the only person in the room who can provide and inspire learning. We are all in this together so we must use one another for help, encouragement, and even positive feedback!

That's it for today's reflection! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! The next reflection, on Goal 5: Supporting Comprehension in Fiction, will be posted on Monday, August 17! Be sure to come back and check it out! And don't forget to check out the other postings from the members of the #ReadingStrategiesCrew! Thanks again to them for starting this online book study!


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