Oral Reading Fluency: Exploring fluency practices suggested by the work of Dr. Tim Rasinski by Dr. Sam Bommarito
I spent a great deal of time in the past few weeks talking about phonics and the current iteration of the reading wars. My position remains that teachers be allowed to use a full range of approaches to teaching phonics matching the child to the type of decoding instruction that best fits the child. But I believe decoding instruction should never be the total sum of the child’s beginning reading instruction. I find the guidelines for time allotment proposed by Shanahan quite sensible.
To see his full post around the topic of time allotment, go to https://shanahanonliteracy.com/blog/how-much-time-should-we-spend-on-comprehension-and-phonics
Here are some highlights from that post:
“The biggest decisions teachers make, have to do with how much time to spend on literacy and language and how to divide this time up among the components of literacy. I have long emphasized 2-3 hours of literacy instruction per day in grades K-5 (if you are teaching in a half-day kindergarten, then 60-90 minutes per day).”
“I would argue for dividing the total amount of literacy and language time equally across those five components (or four, if the students aren’t yet reading). Before they are reading, I would devote about a quarter of the instructional time to oral language development (including listening comprehension), a quarter to decoding, a quarter to oral reading fluency, and a quarter to writing. Once children are reading, then the time shifts so that each component gets 20% of the time.”
So, let’s turn our attention to one of the components Shanahan has outlined. What to do during the 20% of the instructional time allocated to oral reading fluency? I would recommend that all teachers take a hard look at Dr. Tim Rasinski’s ideas and methods in this area
I first heard him speak at one of our local ILA’s meeting. I wrote a blog about what he said in that presentation:
As you can see from the title of the blog post above, Rasinski sees the teaching of reading as both science and art. He made some compelling arguments to that end. The thing he talked about that REALLY got my attention was his story of a 1st-grade teacher who tried a very simple technique for building fluency for her readers. She had them practice reading poems aloud on a daily basis. They knew that at the end of the week they would get a chance to perform their poem. This practice/perform sequence did not take up an inordinate amount of time since the daily practice sessions were short (5-10 minutes). The teacher got major pushback from her administrator about wasting classroom time. But she was allowed to continue her program all year. Her building was a high needs building. Her class outperformed all the other classes in the building on the end of the year reading achievement test. She went on to become the teacher of the year. You can see why this story caught my attention.
Though retired, I donate one day a week to a private elementary school in my area. My grandchildren attend that school. Just this quarter I found a 1st-grade teacher willing to try this practice/perform method. The week after next, I will give you a full report on how it went (hint- it went VERY well).
WAIT A MINUTE DR. SAM. You said week after next. What’s going on?
Dr. Sam is off on a family vacation next week. My wife and I are going with my son and his family. So- no blog next week. But I thought I would leave you with a little preview of things to come. I wrote a little parody sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy. I used that as my introduction to the whole topic of reading like a storyteller. Below is an audio of the song and a picture. The first graders joined me in singing the song. I’ve given a link to a folder where you can download both the audio and the pdf. The song is copyrighted, but permission is given for its non-commercial use at the class, building or even district level. If you want to use it as part of a program that is sold- contact me. Otherwise- feel free to use it. There is a very real lesson in prosody contained in the song. The week after next, I’ll tell you all about how things went with the prosody lessons. Until then, Aloha! (hmmmmm, wonder where Dr. Sam is going next week? hmmmmm).
Here are the song and links to a downloadable PDF and audio file.
TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF AND AUDIO FILE CLICK HERE
Happy Reading, Writing, AND Singing
Dr. Sam Bommarito (aka the wanna-be songwriter)
Copyright 2019 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.
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