Lesson: Reading Poetry Fluently

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Lesson Objective

Students will be able to read a poem with fluency and expression. They will also use a checklist to rate students on their ability to read fluently.

Lesson Plan

Connection (3-5 mins): Readers we have talked a lot over the past few days about poetry and what it can look like or sound like.  Today, we will focus on how poetry sounds by practicing reading poems.  It is important to read a poem with rhythm and expression in your voice because all of you mentioned that characteristic of poetry in our noticing chart during the first day of our unit.  Rhythm is one of the defining parts of a poem and we don’t want to go around reading poems like a robot.

Teach/Active Engagement (10-12 mins): Fluency is the ability to read with speed and correct expression without saying words incorrectly.  It makes it difficult to understand what you read if you are not able to read fluently.  Fluent readers read in phrases and add intonation appropriately.  The reading is smooth and not choppy or awkward.

Watch me as I model fluent and not fluent reading.  Teacher reads aloud the poem below once without expression, fluency, or pausing for author’s meaning. The poem should be written on chart paper for students to see. 

A pelican uses its steam-shovel bill
To gather more fish than can possibly fill
Its pelican belly.
It’s not out of greed…
That bill is a trough where young pelicans feed.

Turn and tell your partner what you noticed about how I read that poem.  Students should discuss that the teacher didn’t pause, she rushed through the poem, didn’t stop for period, sounded like a robot, and the reading was boring.  Have students share our responses and chart those responses under the heading without fluency. 

You all noticed some great characteristics of how I read that poem without fluency.  Now watch as I read this poem with fluency.  Make sure your listen carefully to notice the differences between reading with and without fluency.

Teacher reads aloud the same poem again this time with fluency and expression.  Turn and tell your partner what you noticed about that reading of the poem.  Teacher has students share out their responses and add to the chart under the heading reading fluently. 

We had great conversations today around what fluency is and isn’t while reading poetry. Remember it is important to read fluently to ensure you understand what you are reading.  It is much more difficult to gather meaning when you are pausing every few words or not pausing for the authors message. We will have plenty of time to practice this skill during workshop time today. 

Teacher assigns partners that are similar in reading level and students return to their seats with their partners.

Independent Reading (15-20 mins): Students return to their seats with a partner.  They will be given a selection of two poems (based on reading level).  I pull these poems from their poetry packets that each student should already have on their desk throughout the unit.  Students take turn reading the poems.  I tell students to read the poem three times silently before reading the poem aloud.  Students use the fluency checklist to grade each other on their fluency.  It is a great way for students to provide feedback to each other, as well as allow students ample time to practice their reading without having them read aloud in front of the entire class.


Exit Slip/Share (3-5 mins):  Teacher should collect the partner surveys to determine which students struggled with the partner activity.  I also try to sit with partnerships that I know may struggle with this activity to provide feedback as well.  It is optional to have a few students read aloud their poems to the class to model fluency, continuing the dialogue about what fluent reading looks like with poetry.

Reflection: Fluency is a very hard skill to master.  Many students are unable to grow in reading level due to their lack of fluency.  This can be due in part to their inability to decode, or their lack of confidence in their reading abilities.  Partner activities such as the one above during workshop time are great ways to facilitate improved fluency without the stress of students reading out loud in front of the class.

Lesson Resources

How to Read a Poem Aloud   Activity
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