Monthly Archives: October 2019

History in the Making Part Two: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

History in the Making Part Two: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Teaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

Last week I gave highlights from what P.D. Pearson had to say. I shared some of the key slides from that presentation. This week I’ll talk about what Pearson and the rest of the panel had to say in the open discussion. No slides to fall back on this time, but I highly recommend a thorough summary of the whole program found on the ILA website.

https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-daily/2019/10/22/recapping-what-research-says?utm_source=TW-10222019&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ThisWeek&utm_content=Story-1

In the description that follows, I’ll be using these highlights, my personal notes from the session, and my review of the session watching the archive feed that is currently still active on the ILA website. (I used my ILA membership’s credentials to log in to the website and then found the archive page. These archives will not be available indefinitely, so take advantage while they still are!).

The ILA recap reports the following:

According to Cabell, children start developing the skills they need for later literacy success from birth. Preschool teachers can help facilitate this at a young age by drawing children’s attention to print while they’re reading out loud, playing phonological games, and practicing writing in settings that inspire curiosity.

“Children must develop their language skills as early as possible,” said Cabell, “By the end of kindergarten children’s language skills start to stabilize. They grow in their skills, but really they are in the same place as their peers.”

MY REFLECTIONS: My wife is a parent educator, so I am very familiar with the importance of language development in the early years. I’ve presented it to her parent educator group. When I did, I promoted the idea of “Read to them, talk with them, act as if books are important-they are!”. The question came up during that session.  Can a really young child really interact with a book? One of the parent educators said “One time a Mom was wondering about that when the baby picked up the book, played with it, put it in her mouth (it was one of those you can)  and stayed engaged with it for several minutes. Guess she was meeting that book on her own terms and enjoying it!” Everyone had a good laugh about that. But the point is, if from the earliest encounters, books are treated as important to the parent then the child will usually also treat them as important. I asked them to be sure to make that point with the parents. One of Mem Fox’s famous sayings is “When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child,’ I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” That is from her book about how reading to a child changes lives (and it can). Parents, parent educators, and preschool teachers can all have a hand in making sure all children get their fair share of that chocolate!

I spent over three decades in Title 1 programs working with children from both rural and urban areas. These were not always children who are read to or had books in the home. The first thing to do is really very simple. Read to them, help them discover the joy and wonder books can bring. In the process, make sure they get the background they need to understand the Concepts of Print. (print carries the message, moves left to right et al.)  My Reading Recovery training was invaluable in helping me to do that as a teacher. Later on, as a staff developer, I tried to help my teachers develop that selfsame skill set. Moving on to teaching reading without first establishing the concepts about print is an exceptionally bad idea. The child needs the schema the Concepts of Print provides before moving into print instruction.

What if the parent can’t read? Linda Mitchell, a member of our local ILA group has an innovative answer to that. She tells of her own mom, who couldn’t read. Even though she couldn’t read every day, she pretended to read the paper to Linda. This taught Linda the importance of print. Linda reports that in the process of imitating, she became a reader. This led to forming the Imitation Read Metro Reach Literacy Project a project that encourages parents to read to their children. Part of what she does is to give the parents books to take home for themselves. Read all about it using these links:  https://metroeastliteracyproject.blogspot.com/p/the-imreading-initiative.html?m=1 https://vencafstl.org/event/harnessing-imitation-to-boost-reading-achievement-metro-east-literacy-project-2/

I would be remiss if I did not talk about the problem of book deserts. Book deserts are zip codes where most children don’t have books at home. There are several projects aimed at ending book deserts.

Molly Ness, the primary author of the ILA position paper on Read Alouds, has a wonderful podcast that tells of many ways that folks are currently getting books into the hands of children in the book deserts. The podcasts are more than just a report about book give away programs. They are designed to encourage the growth of even more such programs. She already has 14 podcasts online,  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/end-book-deserts/id1471803313. Have a listen to one of them, please!

Our state ILA got involved in book giveaways when the ILA Convention came to St. Louis a few years back. ILA arranged for vendors to donate the books they didn’t take home to the state ILA. We rented warehouse space with help from national. Eventually, more than 20,000 books got into the hands of children in book deserts. That figure is higher than the number of books donated by vendors. The reason is we learned the tricks of how to get even more books out from a St Louis organization known as Ready to Learn, which used the same warehouse space we did to store and process books for giveaways.

Ready to Learn has gotten over a quarter of a million books into the hands of children in book deserts, mainly those attending Title 1 schools in the Northern part of the St. Louis region. Find them on Facebook at @readytolearnstl.

St. Louis Black Authors, headed by St Louis ILA board member Julius Anthony, is also into the business of getting books into the hands of children. Read all about their Believe project using this link http://stlblackauthors.com/.  They now have five different well-stocked bookrooms designed to be a place where children can come and read books written by St. Louis Black Authors members and other culturally relevant books. One of them is at the Ferguson Community Center. They are amazing, inviting places complete with comfortable chairs et al. and meaningful murals on the wall done by local black artists.

Believe

I wrote a blog about Ready to Learn and St. Louis Black Authors a little over a year ago (before the Believe project). Here is the link https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/04/06/getting-books-into-the-hands-of-children-part-two-of-three-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

All the preceding projects speak to the issue of creating a culture of literacy inside the areas known as book deserts. I was the parent liaison for my Title 1 program (extra duty on top of teaching) for ten years. I found parents in urban areas are more than willing to get involved. We started out with 2 or 3 parents coming to our events. We ended up with 200-300 people coming. The trick was finding parent leadership and following their lead. We had ice cream socials, flashlight reads in the gym, and book exchange nights. The common thread in all this is creating a culture of literacy with the help of parents. It includes helping to make sure that children get the talk and reading experiences that build the skills Cabell talks about. It means bringing Kindergarten back to its original purpose, a Children’s Garden, where children come to learn through play. There are strong movements within the Early Childhood Community to do exactly that.  See this link to get started into exploring those movements https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/05/why-young-kids-learn-through-movement/483408/

That covers what I have to say about the early childhood part of the discussion. I focused on the need to build a culture of literacy as an important part of any literacy program. This culture of literacy helps to create the situations needed for students to get the early print experiences that are crucial for literacy development.  Next time, in part three, I will pick up the rest of the session’s discussion, especially what was said about comprehension.

Until then Happy Reading and Writing

Please remember the Reading Evolution #readingevolution1 https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/03/16/a-call-for-a-reading-evolution-no-its-not-typo-i-mean-evolution-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

History in the Making Part One: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Reaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

History in the Making Part One: Reflections about What Research Really Says About Reaching Reading- and Why That Still Matters by Dr. Bommarito

 

Last Saturday, at the ILA Convention in New Orleans, there was a historic session about research in the field of reading. Panel members included P.D. Pearson, who created the model of gradual release and literally changed the face of reading comprehension in reading; Nell Duke, a no-nonsense, let the chips fall where they may reading researcher; Sonia Cabel from the Florida Center of Reading Research, a place that provides materials and research that are used widely throughout the literacy world  and Gwendolyn Thompson whose research focuses on identifying effective ways to negotiate the cultural borders between various learning environments,  including urban classrooms and the African American Church, homes.

The first blog entry on this topic will focus on some of the things Dr. Pearson had to say about research in reading and my reflections on them. Here are screen captures of the first slide entries to consider:

P.D. Rule 1

P.D. RULE 2

Some slides related to these two slides:

HEADLINE

PD PROBLEM

 

 

MY REFLECTIONS: I’ve reported in this blog on numerous occasions that SOME science of learning advocates try to pass off gains on decoding measures as gains of comprehension.  Whether it be the word lists of pseudowords that Pearson references, or test results using measures like the Dibels, the NRP made it quite clear that gains in decoding do not automatically result in gains in comprehension. That is why I recommend that district leaders look for the ability to produce multi-year gains in comprehension, as measured by comprehension tests, before adopting any materials or programs. This is true whether they come from SoR advocates or advocates of constructivist practices.

Pearson cites the 18 hours of phonemic awareness instruction the NRP indicates needed, to what actually goes on in some kindergarten classes. In previous blogs, I’ve talked about Dr. Tim Shanahan’s assessment of the two years of exclusive work in decodable books called for by some Science of Reading advocates is excessive and not supported by the research. Remember that time is a finite thing in classroom instruction and using more time than needed on one kind of instruction results in other forms of instruction suffering.  I must point out that later in this presentation Nell Duke did say that use decodable books was the educational practice most supported by current research. The crux of my comment is, let’s not overdo the use of them.

PD RULE 3

RULE 4

Slides related to rules 3 & 4

HEADLINE

PD PROBLEM

MY REFLECTIONS: As indicated in the screen captures Pearson says, “Experiments and RCT yes, but in any scientific endeavor, RCTs are the last 5% of the research journey. Behind is a lot more.” I can’t tell you how many times in my various conversations in cyberspace after bringing up various research results. I’ve been told that’s not a Random Sample design, so I’m going to discount it. It seems many Science of Reading folks are trained to give that response. In their minds any qualitative data is useless. I would point out that many qualitative studies, by using non-parametric statistics, can and do produce results that can be shown to beat chance. Close and personal Ethnography also has a place according to Pearson. As he says, “When you invite the research family to the policy table, you invite them all, even the cousins you’d rather not talk to.” My opinion is that limiting research so that only RCT designs are allowed cuts our research journey short and can result in stagnation rather than progress in the pursuit of reading  research. I’ll be using the ideas Dr. Pearson gave in this part of the presentation to respond next time someone takes the RTC only stance in one of my cyberspace conversations (Thanks David!!!).

The final two rules:

RULE 5

RULE 6

 

MY REFLECTIONS: The best (worst?) example of cherry-picking I can think of is Dykstra’s “punch you in the nose” video that many Science of Reading advocates find so enthralling.  Aside from the lack of professionalism demonstrated by his taking the “punch you in the nose” stance, there is a complete misrepresentation of the facts surrounding how the history of reading went. His version goes like this.  Whole language folks weren’t doing phonics. After it became clear phonics were necessary, they finally relented and adopted some weak forms of phonics that still don’t get the job done. This, of course, fits nicely in promoting the thought that his preferred form of instruction, direct intense synthetics phonics, should be adopted. It makes for a great public relations campaign and seems to have been widely picked up by the media. The problem is when you look at histories of reading found in books where the history of reading is written by folks with actual credentials in reading (Dykstra freely admits he has none), that this sequence of events is nowhere to be found.

First, whole language advocates have long embraced analytic phonics. I was present at the ILA Hall of Fame presentation in 1995, where Ken Goodman said exactly that. Second, analytic phonics is not a “weak sister” form of phonics. The NRP concluded long ago that systematic phonics works best. Tim Shanahan is fond of pointing our that the NRP said systematic (not synthetic). Both synthetic and analytic phonics were found to work if done systematically.  The almost total reliance on directly taught synthetic phonics that seems to be the cornerstone of the Science of Reading movement simply isn’t justified by the facts. Research indicates that there is a place, an important place, for analytic phonics.  This fact seems to have been completely lost in the most recent media coverage of the whole issue of how to teach reading. Pearson also points out that the original research on phonics was done in a setting that included much more than simply synthetic phonics. Again the recent media coverage seems to ignore most of these other things.

I also make the point that Science of Reading folks claim that Whole Language/Balanced Literacy (they incorrectly treat them as the same) has completely failed. They say this is so because what we are doing now isn’t working. I have no argument with the thought that what we are doing now isn’t working. However, what we are doing now includes districts that are doing WL and/or BL without fidelity to best practices in those approaches. It includes districts that have no real approach at all. It also includes districts that are using the practices advocated by Science of Reading folks. When I make that last point, I’m instantly told that I should draw a sample of just those districts and see how they are doing. Point taken. However, that means that before Science of Reading folks claim that Whole Language or Balanced Literacy (or my preferred term, districts using constructivist practices) have completely failed, they need to base that on a scientifically drawn sample of districts using those practices with fidelity. Because both WL and BL are umbrella terms, meaning different things to different people, I advocate for looking at the specific constructivist practices involved rather than using the umbrella terms. In any event, SoR folks must produce studies of districts based on a scientific sample of districts using such practices with fidelity and failing before claiming that those practices are failing. Given the results of things like the recent preliminary study of workshop teaching in New York (small N, but a larger study is in the works) and other similar studies, it is highly unlikely they will be able to make that case. Also- if they are going to act like their methods work with everyone, then they also need to produce studies that show their systematic phonics approach works with almost every child almost every time. I’m often told when demanding such proof that nothing works with almost every child every time. Point taken.  So SoR folks need to admit there are children who need something other than systematic synthetic phonics instruction to succeed. The needs of such children need to be addressed.  In my almost 50 years of teaching, I’ve encountered many such children (and successfully provided the needed alternative instruction).

COMING UP:  So far, I’ve only reported and reflected on what P.D. Pearson said.  In my upcoming blog entries, I will be talking about the ramifications of what was said by the rest of the panel. I will also explore the notion that, given the right conditions, we might be able to start a dialogue rather than a debate around these literacy issues. This fits in with Pearson’s idea of bringing everyone to the table. For readers unfamiliar with my call for a Reading Evolution #readingevolution1, here is a link to the blog where I first proposed that idea: https://doctorsam7.blog/2018/03/16/a-call-for-a-reading-evolution-no-its-not-typo-i-mean-evolution-by-dr-sam-bommarito/

 

Until next week, Happy Reading and Writing

 

Dr. Sam Bommarito

P.S. I want to give a GIANT shout out to the ILA for making this session (and many others) available on a live feed. I’ve been an ILA member since 1985 (back then it was called the IRA). I’ve been to many of the conventions, even presented at some, but I was unable to attend this one. Live streaming made it possible for me and others like me to see this event first-hand. So, THANK YOU ILA. I hope this becomes a permanent feature of future conventions. I also want to remind readers that while I am a member and an officer in my state’s ILA, the views expressed in the blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the ILA or any other group. See my disclaimer below.

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The teaching of reading as both science and art a report/evaluation of Rasinki’s presentation in St Louis by Dr. Sam Bommarito

Today’s blog is a repost of a blog from 2018. In it, I describe the ideas of Dr. Tim Rasinski around the whole issue of what research in reading should look like. In light of the historic ILA session about the research in reading about to happen this weekend, I thought it would be good to remind my readers that there are well-founded points of view about the teaching of reading that include the thought that it is both an art and a science. I found Rasinski’s ideas and actions around this thought well developed and useful. I’m using them with great success in my weekly push in’s in the school where I currently volunteer (see my blog from last week for details). Kids and teachers alike love to do the daily repeated readings and the periodic performance of those readings.  I’m rather sure the end result this year will be kids who read like storytellers. This, in turn, will lead to kids who also become lifelong readers because of the love of reading fostered by these practices. All this is a direct result of teaching reading as both an art and a science. It is a practice I highly recommend.

Dr. Sam Bommarito, Oct 10, 2019

Capture

The above quote from Diane Ravitch is taken from the Rasinski’s presentation in St. Louis at our local ILA’s spring banquet. Last week I promised to tell you more about it.  Here goes! As I proceed, I will try to make it clear which part of what is said is Rasinski’s and which parts are my reactions or comments on what he said. As you could tell from my remarks last week I found his presentation to be enlightening, empowering and encouraging.

During his presentation, Rasinski made it clear that the teaching of reading is, and should be, a science.  He gave many details about this. However, he also feels the teaching of reading is also an art and that there are many benefits to treating it as an art as well as a science. Let’s talk about why he feels that way.

Great Minds

As illustrated by his slide about Albert Einstein, he talked about the many great minds over the years who recognized the importance of art. Others he mentioned included the Dalai Lama and Steve Jobs

Rasinski maintains that treating the teaching of reading as art can raise the level of performance of students. Look at his take on Bloom’s Taxonomy:

Going Beyond Evaluate

My take on this rendition of Blooms is that when you use an approach to the teaching of reading that is based on both art and science, you raise the level of student performance.  When students are allowed the time to create things of their own, they are going beyond what they already know (Rasinski’s words).  They are adding new things to the base of human knowledge. In short, they are performing at a higher level than before.

There are unintended consequences to the “All Science” approach to reading.  Rasinski shared the example of what it’s like to read a decodable text about the “ag” family.  He used the decodable book, Mr. Zag. Rasinski asked, is this science?  His answer was yes. Is it art? His answer was no. Is it engaging? My answer is no. As I thought about this example, it becomes apparent there while the text was read; it’s content was at the very lowest levels of blooms (e.g. Mr. Zag saw a bag with a tag). The text did not require the student to perform at a high level.  It did not require students to think except at the very lowest levels of Blooms.  I anticipated that his next few slides would show us examples of ways to accomplish the very same task (teach the ag family) but do it in an artful way- a way that would engage students and require them to perform at a high level of thinking.  That is exactly what he did. Poetry was involved.

This brings us to the centerpiece of his presentation, his new book, which is entitled the Megabook of Fluency. The book is exactly that. It is organized around his prosody factors (EARS). E is for Expression, A is for Automatic Word Recognition, R is for Rhythm, and Phrasing and S is for smoothness, fixing mistakes. Rubrics based on these factors are available in the book and are written on a variety of levels including one for 6-8.  So, this book isn’t just for the primary grades; it’s content and suggestions include ideas and activities for all grade levels PP-8.  For a list of all the strategies in the book organized by EARS skills, the reader can go to https://www.scholastic.com/pro/TheMegabookOfFluency.html.

This link is for people who own the book. You can use information from the book to get the password for this link.

It was in this part of the presentation that Rasinski told the story I mentioned last week. It was the story of a new primary teacher who used the strategy of having children practice reading poetry for four days of the week in preparation for performing those poems on Friday.  Despite push back about “wasting” instructional time, she continued to do that. By the end of the year, her first grades were performing significantly higher on reading tests. She replicated those results the next year and became the teacher of the year for her state. The book gave several more examples of other teachers in other grade levels having similar success.

By now, my readers can guess the book contains a treasure trove of ideas and resources. There are many activities that take advantage of original sources, including a variety of songs like It’s a Grand Old Flag, primary source texts like Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, poems like Paul Revere’s Ride, and of course children’s nursery rhymes.  I mentioned those nursery rhymes last on purpose. That is because I want to emphasize that this book is not just for primary students.  Students in the middle grades can also benefit from instruction in prosody. Rasinski asked what would happen if we had students practice and then perform such historic and artful texts? I think part of what would happen is that through use of primary sources teachers would include both science and social studies content within their literacy block. This, in turn, would enhance both their literacy scores and their science and social studies scores.  The book also includes materials on how to teach comprehension artfully.  Based on the examples Tim gave during the presentation, this is done with materials that students would find engaging.  It would be done in a way that allows students to perform at the highest levels of Blooms.

As I just indicated, the activities in his book are not just about helping students get better at decoding. Remember last week when I said that during parts of the presentation, I felt like I was in a seminar on writing workshop? That is because Rasinski talked about how students used some of the poems and primary source pieces as a source of inspiration for writing their own works. He showed examples of student writing. Hmm. Students writing their own poetry, scaffolded by reading poems from this book or other sources.  What a great idea for poetry month! Might I ask on what performance level students would be working? That would be the level that comes after Bloom’s evaluation level, creating! Ideas for poetry lessons based on Tim’s book can be found at POETRY LESSON PDF

Ok, is all this real science? Rasinski makes a case that it is. Look at his example, summarizing the impact of deep repeated reading:

Deep Repeated Reading

Example A demonstrates that performance improved over several rereads. Notice the big red arrows when doing the next set of rereads (B) and yet another set of rereads (C). They are there to call your attention to the fact that the improved performance with the first set (A), results in the reader starting on the second set at a higher level, and this phenomenon is repeated on the third set. That means the skills gained in the first performance carried over to future performances. Rasinski says that’s science! I concur.

Rasinski also says that repeated reading is more effective when done for authentic purposes.  His book gives you many pieces of authentic reading materials and many authentic reasons for rereading (e.g., rereading to prepare for a performance). My experience with his materials over the years is that his materials work, and they are engaging to the students.

That concludes what I have to say about Rasinski’s presentation. Stay tuned. Next week there will be a blog post over the next part of this topic. I’m using the title “Singing Our Way into Fluency.”  Eric Litwin: Best-selling author of the original four Pete the Cat books, The Nuts, and Groovy Joe. will share his views on using music with beginning readers. So please come back next week as we continue our discussion.

For more information about Tim and his various visit his website http://www.timrasinski.com/.  BTW- the blog on his website includes free versions of his famous Word Ladders.

 

Also, check out his articles in professional journals:

Fluency

 

Reading Teacher

Happy Reading and Writing!

Copyright 2018/2019 by Dr. Sam Bommarito. Includes the use of the title Singing Our Way into Fluency. Views/interpretations expressed here are solely the view of this author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other person or organization.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.

Promoting fluency for beginning readers using activities inspired by the work of Tim Rasinski and Mellissa Cheesman Smith

Promoting fluency for beginning readers using activities inspired by the work of Tim Rasinski and Mellissa Cheesman Smith

The Megabook of Fluency

Last year, Tim Rasinski came to our local IRA and did a presentation around the science and art of reading. To see everything he had to say (and he had a lot to say!) go to this blog entry:

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/

This blog post will center on an activity he described in the book Megabook of Fluency. Mellissa Cheesman Smith was his co-author. The book truly is a Megabook of Great Ideas and Activities that teachers of all grades can use to help their students develop fluency. It is organized around his prosody factors (EARS). E is for Expression, and A is for Automatic Word Recognition, R is for Rhythm and Phrasing, and S is for smoothness, fixing mistakes. Rubrics based on these factors are available in the book and are written on a variety of levels including one for grades 6-8.  So readers, this book isn’t just for the primary grades; its content and suggestions include ideas and activities for all grade levels PP-8.  For a list of all the strategies in the book organized by EARS skills the reader can go to: https://www.scholastic.com/pro/TheMegabookOfFluency.html.

This link is for people who own the book. You can use information from the book to get the password for this link.

In his presentation, Rasinski told the following story.  It was the story of a new primary teacher who used the strategy of having children practice reading poetry for four days of the week in preparation for performing those poems on Friday. The reading time wasn’t that long, 5-10 minutes daily.  Despite push back about “wasting” instructional time, she continued to do this activity all year. By the end of the year, her first grade was performing significantly higher on reading tests. She replicated those results the next year and became the teacher of the year for her state. My assessment is that it is a lot of bang for the buck since the instructional time used is less than 10 minutes a day.

My regular readers are well aware that I am a retired reading specialist. I volunteer for one full day a week at my grandchildren’s elementary school. I push into two third grades where I am helping teachers to get started in writing workshop (a topic for a future blog) and also push into two 1st grades and two-second grades where I am implementing a program inspired by Rasinski’s report on the repeated readings. I tried this method out in one of the second grades last year at the end of the year. The teacher liked it so much she talked her partner in second grade and the other two 1st grade teachers into trying it out this year. We just started this week.

My “lesson” on how to be a reading storyteller was actually a song I wrote. It is sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Here it is (go to the Links to Selected Materials page of this blog to download a copy- free for classroom use. It is copyrighted so required permission for commercial use):

I sang the song first. Here is an audio

READING STORY TELLER

I then invited the class to sing along. We then had a little discussion about things storytellers do (your voice goes up, your voice goes down, makes storytelling sounds, etc.). The students then paired up and read the story together. Just before doing that I taught the class the following two chants:

“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”

ALSO

If you see three, say three, if you see five say five.

I told them that as they read, each partner would take turns being the “pointer.” They would point as they read and make sure they were matching. I told them that making up our own stories from pictures etc. is something we do as writers. As readers, we should read exactly what’s there. We don’t try to memorize the whole book (or in this case the whole song). Instead, we are careful to notice which word is which when we read.

That was this week’s lesson. During the week, they will practice reading the song daily. 5-7 minutes. This will get them ready for next week when they will start doing poems and practice them on a two-week cycle. In this case, their basal series has poems for each unit. We’ll be doing those for a while. Later on, I have lots of books with collections of easy poems, and so do the teachers. There are also lots of poems in the Megabook of Fluency.  Each child will get a chance to pick which poem they want to work on. Unlike Rasinski’s teacher, who worked on a 1-week cycle, for now we will work on a two-week cycle. At the end of the cycle the children know they will be making a recording of their poem.

In the future, I will blog out again and let my readers know how its going.  I would mention that last summer when I did an in-service for first-grade teachers, the song and the related activities were one of the favorite activities for those teachers.

I’ll end by saying that this activity is just one of many you can find in the Megabook of Fluency. When I listened to Rasinski’s presentation last year, part of the time, I felt that I was in a seminar on writing workshop. Why?  That is because Rasinski talked about how students used some of the poems and primary source pieces as a source of inspiration for writing their own works. He showed examples of student writing. Hmm. Students writing their own poetry, scaffolded by reading poems from this book or other sources.  What a great idea for poetry month!

Rasinski also says that repeated reading is more effective when done for authentic purposes.  His book gives you many pieces of authentic reading materials and many authentic reasons for rereading (e.g., rereading to prepare for a performance). These include pieces that are appropriate for older grades (Think Dr. Marin Luther Kings I Have Dream Speech, or President Kennedy’s Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You speech). There are lots of other fluency activities, as well.

For more information about Tim and his various resources, visit his website http://www.timrasinski.com/.  BTW- the blog on his website includes free versions of some of his famous Word Ladders and earlier versions of his fluency rubric, which are available for free downloading.

Happy Reading and Writing!

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.

P.S. If you found the blog through Facebook or Twitter, please consider following the blog to make sure you won’t miss it.  Use the “follow” entry on the sidebar of the blog.