Today, I meet with the students on the rug and say, "Boys and girls! I have had so much fun reading ocean poetry with you recently! Have you enjoyed reading the poems we've been reading on the ocean so far?" Many students instantly start to say yes and start describing which ones they like! I say, "Now, you know that yesterday, I read you my favorite poem. If you had to choose a poem that you would say is your favorite of them all, which would you choose? Turn to a neighbor and let them know what you think might have been your favorite!"
Now, I need to remind my students that part of reading is not only just reading for fun, but for also reading for comprehension, and in order to do that, we need to reading with sufficient accuracy and fluency. To let my students experience this, I say, "Boys and girls, remember my favorite poem, "Song of a Shell"? Today, I'm going to read it for you two ways, and I'd like you to tell me which way sounds best to you!" I start by reading the poem in a very inarticulate manner, with lots of starts and stops and random pauses, without inflection, and failure to find the rhythm of the poem. Then, I read the poem a second time, this time with lots of inflection, appropriate rate, rhythm, and accuracy. Then I ask the kids which reading they liked best? Of course, the kids choose the second reading that sounded just right!
I tell the students that I'm so glad that they liked the second reading better. I ask them why they liked it better. I get responses from the kids like, "Well, the second one was nice and smooth!", and "To be honest Mrs. Hesemann, your first reading wasn't so good!" I have to chuckle, but my students are right! My first reading was NOT great; in fact, it was not very fluent at all! I tell the students that reading the way I read during the second reading is the kind of reading we all should be showing after we've had a chance to practice a text a few times. After a couple of readings, we should read all the words correctly, which is accuracy. We should be able to adjust our rate of reading, which is using an appropriate rate, and we should be able to change our voice a bit up or down to make our reading interesting and fun to listen to, which is called adding expression!
Today, in order to demonstrate skills, I tell our students that we will practice reading poetry multiple times to read these grade-level poems with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression. Then, after practice, we'll share our readings with the class! I help our students get into partner pairs. Each student gets a copy of our ocean poems book and then the pair finds a spot in the classroom to practice their reading. Each partner gets to choose a poem that they think is their favorite, and then practice reading it over and over. When they're ready to share their reading with their partner, students turn and share their oral readings with their partners, and their partners can give them feedback, such as, "Maybe slow down at this part!" or "I think you sound nice and fluent right there! Nice work!"
As students are working, I circulate the room. While I'm circulating, I'm multi-tasking and doing a few different tasks: listening into the feedback and conversations and reminding students of agreed upon classroom conversation rules (as needed); assisting students with accuracy, appropriate rate, or inflection practice; and lastly, making some notes on the rubrics I have for each student. Specifically, as I circulate, I stop and ask each student about the poem their planning to read today and ask them some questions about the poem. I want to see if students can refer to and identify parts of a poem correctly, such as a stanza and also a line within a poem. It's not much but just a quick conversation, but it's enough for me to assess the student's ability to demonstrate the standard.
After students have had a bit to practice and get feedback from their partners, I bring our class together. Now it's time for students to share their readings with our class! Some students want to come up to the front of the room to read their poem, some students want to stand, but stand near their seats, and even still, some students want to stand next to their partners as a support! I'm okay with any of these options, and am happy to accommodate the comfort level of all students! As students read, I continue to make notes on the rubrics for each student! While students are reading, I'm making notes on the rubric about reading foundational skills (such as reading a poem with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression). I also make a note of each student's speaking and listening abilities during the presentation as well! It's important to note that this is a really fun part of the lesson-the students and myself included have a ball just listening to each other read poems! What fun!