Back in the saddle again: working with first and second graders and helping them sing their way into fluency

The MegaBook of Fluency

Back in the saddle again: working with first and second graders and helping them sing their way into fluency

By Doctor Sam Bommarito

(Readers Looking for the Serravallo Interview, it is the blog entry right after this one!)

In social media I list my status as retired sort of. The reason for the “sort of” is I have many activities one of which happens to be doing an after-school program for first and second graders at an elementary school. That program just started this week. We call it The Reading Club.  There are currently 20 members.  We meet once a week.  The learning specialist from the building and I run the program.  She takes half the group and I take the other.  We also have helpers from the upper grades who come in to provide some peer interaction.

This year I decided to draw on some of the things I’ve learned while blogging about the latest ideas and lessons for younger readers. Over the next few blog entries, I’ll be talking about what I’m trying with these younger readers and how it’s working.  I’m drawing from ideas suggested by the work of Eric Litwin and Tim Rasinski.  I’ve talked about Eric and Tim previously on this blog.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/11/singing-our-way-into-fluency-exploring-the-work-of-eric-litwin-and-how-he-brings-together-the-art-and-science-of-reading-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/05/04/the-teaching-of-reading-as-both-science-and-art-a-report-evaluation-of-rasinkis-recent-presentation-in-st-louis-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

What these two have in common is the belief that one path to fluency and comprehension can be found by using poetry and song.  Eric is the one who made me aware that students today often don’t know the traditional nursery rhymes and children’s songs. When I asked my students to raise their hands if they know the song Sing a Song of Sixpence, not a single hand went up.  I chose that particular song to start with because Tim and his co-author Melissa include an activity in The Megabook of Fluency based on that song (p 306-7).  The activity includes a sheet for parents.

I taught the group the song a couple of lines at a time. (I sing, you sing).  After practicing the two of lines the song a couple of times I did think alouds around selected words in the line.  I pointed out the “outlaw word” of (outlaw because it is not spelled the way it sounds). We found the words the and that”. These are both high frequency words.  We talked about how knowing the middle and end of word helps us tell words apart (the & that).

I noticed that at first some of the students weren’t even looking at the words at all as they sang. I asked them to make it match- that is point to each word as they sing each word in the song.  I have a little chant we do for that “Make it match, don’t make it up, that is what to do. Make it match don’t make it up, you’ll read your story true.”  A prompt I use to encourage matching is “If you see 5 words say 5 words, if you see 7 words say 7 words.”  In sum, don’t say any more words or any fewer words than what you see as you read or sing.  After introducing all the lines of the song (eight all total). The students then paired off and sang the song together in pairs. I asked the to make it match as they did. That means they pointed to each word as they sang the words.  We ended by playing a minute or so of “find all the “xxxx’s, e.g. find all the “the’s”. Point to each one and say it when you find it.  Reading recovery teachers will recognize this as a teaching move used by recovery teachers with students at the beginning levels.

Let’s now think about what I did and why it was important. One of the problems with little predictable books or other predictable text is that sometimes the child memorizes all the words in the text as one big block of text.  They really don’t know which word is which. This is because they are not paying attention to the visual cues (letters!).  By asking them to match, by making them pay attention to which word is which, I’m helping the students balance their use of cues. There is much more to it than simply matching as you read but matching as you read is an excellent starting off point. I’ll have much more to say about this in future blog entries

Eric Litwin if You're Groovey

This week the students will be singing this song each night.  They know they will have a chance to “perform” their song when they come back to the next reading club.  This is not the only thing we did at our reading club, but right now I’m focusing on telling you about how I’m using the rereading (resinging?)  of predictable text in order to promote fluency.  Next week I’ll be introducing the kids to one of Eric’s newest books, If You’re Groovy and You Know It, Hug a Friend.  It is patterned after the song “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. I’ll let you know next week how many of the kids knew that classic song ahead of time. I’ll also be reminding readers of Rasinski’s story about one first grade teacher who used a cycle of reading poetry/songs aloud and then perform those poems or songs on Friday. She got amazing results. More on that next week. In the meantime-

HAPPY READING, WRITING AND SINGING

 

Sam Bommarito aka the music man

 

P.S. About last week: It was very exciting to do the interview with Serravallo. I’m reminding my readers that the Serravallo’s interview and an interview with Eric Litwin will be appearing in the next issue of Missouri Reader. I will let you know when that comes out (just a week or two from now) and will do a special blog entry about it.

https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/09/28/an-interview-with-jennifer-serravallo-conducted-by-sam-bommarito-and-glenda-nugent-co-editors-of-the-missouri-reader/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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