Monday, April 3, 2017

Go Poem #20 -- A Fluent "Inner Voice"

by Rose Birkhead

Prior to my middle school teaching days, I had the opportunity to teach self contained 2nd and 3rd grade. I learned about the importance of interactive, engaging lessons. Also, I learned about the importance of routine. My students expected a "Poem of the Week" each week. They loved to explore new words, learn new rhythms, and recite poetry. It certainly created more confident readers, and the welcome routine of reciting our poem each day helped improve fluency and overall reading skills.

I realized after my first “Poem in my Pocket Day" in middle school, that many middle schoolers needed fluency instruction as well. So began my fluency lesson with the poem "My Smartphone Isn’t Very Smart" by Kenn Nesbitt. Students appreciate this poem because it is about the beloved smartphone and our constant reliance on it. An added bonus: it makes my students laugh!

I have found, when given the opportunity and a little bit of instruction, fluency can improve! Fluency builds confidence and reminds students to inject expression and rhythm into reading. When I help students discover their inner voices, I find comprehension improves dramatically. It also provides an opportunity to discuss how to appropriately use technology, which is an important topic of conversation in my classroom.

So, I start by projecting the poem on the board. I read it aloud, as the students follow along. Then, I read each stanza and have the students choral read back with me. I accent the rhythm of the poem, and clap my hands as I read.  Next, we practice individually for a about a minute. I call on volunteers to read each stanza. Students really have fun with this poem. It builds confidence, and reminds us to inject expression and rhythm into our reading. The inner voice can help us comprehend so much better!

Rose Birkhead is a Reading Specialist at Holland Middle School. She teaches 7th and 8th grade Literacy classes and  strives to create a positive learning environment where her students feel successful on a daily basis.

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