Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Beach and Fluency

Hello again from the beach!

Day 1: Reading on the beach


Day 2: Writing at the beach due to rain


As I have previously shared with y’all, I am in a Master’s course for Reading and Literacy at Walden University. This week’s discussion is based on professional partnerships, networks, and learning communities. This can be in the form of professional learning, blogs, wikis, and professional social networks.

We were given a few examples of educational blogs:

The Essential Blog

ASCD Weblog

NSCD: Leading and Learning Blog

PLC Blog

Education News, Analysis, and Commentary Blog

Edutopia’s Blogs

McREL Blog

From this list, I chose to use the Education Week Blog and began to think about my school’s improvement area(s). I remembered in previous meetings, fluency is our students’ main deficit. After searching for fluency blog post, I found Liana Heitin’s (2015) article titled “Reading Fluency: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?”. In this article, Heitin reflects on how even though she has been out of the class for fifteen years, not much has changed. Heitin  (2015) states, “What I found was that not a ton has changed. The same fluency-building strategies—repeated reading, choral reading, and echo reading—are still well prescribed. Having students read alone silently is still seen as lacking an evidence base.” This sentence made me think of how these strategies were, or were not, used my own classroom. I use the repeated reading and reading silently strategies in my croom. I do not have the traditional homeroom and see upwards of 30 students a week. We work mainly on reading accuracy and fluency interventions as well as comprehension; some of these students need math interventions as well. In these classes we repeat read passages on their individual reading level using different techniques/interventions. These students also take home books to read silently or they engage in silent reading in the morning in their homerooms.
Heitin (2015) quotes a literacy education professor at Kent State University, Tim Rasinski, as saying, "Fluency becomes little more than encouraging kids to read faster and faster. It gives them the wrong idea about what reading is about." Thankfully, I can say that I am not that teacher. I love to read aloud to my student, which is rare in my current position, and use different voices as I read. I make sure the students know why I am doing this and listening to how I read with feeling, purpose and that I am not reading as fast as I can. I tell my students it is more important to know what you than to read all of the words in under a minute. Most students do not realize, 9 times out of 10, they will be asked to explain what they read and to reflect on what it means or connects to their lives. This is why, as an educator, I focus equally on accuracy and fluency. The more accurate the student on their individual level, the more fluent they become. When they are more fluent, the next reading level can be attained. They can then continue to build their confidence and become closer to reaching their independent reading level on their appropriate grade level.
According to PTG Media (n.d.), fluency development is based on the following: Building conceptual connections through prior knowledge, providing explicit models of good language use and providing necessary scaffolding and support. When we look at building connections, PTG Media writes, “As students compare new information with what they already know, they deepen their understanding of the topic.” (p.41).  ELL students have deficits in basic content in what is read as well as the vocabulary in some text. As educators, we might need to reteach basic vocabulary and/or show visuals to help students. Next, being a model for speaking English well is a wonderful opportunity to read above the students’ reading level and introduce them to rich vocabulary they might not see in their independent leveled books.  As PTG writes, “For second language learners, frequent opportunities to hear English texts read orally will build vocabulary, deepen comprehension, and model fluency.” (p.41). The last strategy for ELL fluency development is to provide scaffolding/support when necessary. This might include recorded books, one on one practice and working with special teachers, such as ESOL.
In closing, fluency is a building block that all readers, not only ELL learners need have. When we are able to read with fluency, it helps us express ourselves in a more professional and educated manor. This is what we ultimately want for our students. We want them to continue their education career as a both a lifelong learner and a lifelong reader.

References

Cooper, H. (2003). Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions. Retrieved from http://www.colorincolorado.org/article/8057/

Heitin, L. (14 May, 2015). Reading Fluency: Why Is It So Hard to Teach? Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2015/05/reading_fluency_why_is_it_so_h.html?r=2038415552&qs=fluency&preview=1


PTG Media. (n.d.). ELL Students and Fluency Development. Retrieved from http://ptgmedia.pearsoncmg.com/imprint_downloads/merrill_professional/images/0205456294_pp40-41.pdf

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