Turning Kindergartners into independent and confident readers is for me one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of teaching first grade. This small group lesson addresses a very specific skill that some students need to improve their reading skills. These students were struggling with fluency, and this was interfering with their ability to comprehend grade level texts. Analyzing their running records showed me that they were not self monitoring for meaning. This led to low accuracy when reading the anthology and decodable readers.
The "phones" I used in the lesson can be bought or made, and used for different purposes. In this lesson, my focus was to work on self monitoring using context clues.
I began the small group lesson by telling them that I wanted them to start listening to themselves very carefully to see whether what they were saying made sense. I showed them the phones I made, and doing so generated immediate engagement.
I asked students to listen as I said a few sentences. After each sentence, I asked them whether they made sense or not. For example: "I drive a red car" makes sense, but "I drive a fast cat" produced giggles, and they understood the need to change the word "cat" to "car." When the sentences didn't make sense, I asked them to help me fix them so they made sense. I explained that I wanted them to do the same thing when they were reading and that, since sometimes there was quite a bit of background noise in the room, they would get to use the "telephone" I made to help them really focus on their own reading.
I gave them each a "telephone" and gave them a warning speech about germs and sharing. They were thrilled to hear themselves read. We completed a guided reading lesson, in which I prompted "Did that make sense?" both when they made a mistake and when they hadn't. For guided reading lessons I choose books that are slightly above the group's reading level. The prompt "Did it make sense?" comes from Reading Recovery and must be used consistently to be effective. It is helpful to students who are good decoders and have a considerable repertoire of high frequency words, but who make mistakes that may be close to the actual word visually and may be correct grammatically, but make no sense in the context of the sentence or story.
I gave them five minutes to reread the book for fluency and told them I wanted to listen to themselves to make sure that their reading made sense.
After I listened to them read a couple of lines after their practice, I told them that they would be able to keep their telephones at their desks and that they should use them whenever they read, be it by themselves or in a group reading. I also let them know that if their parents wrote me a note or came to see me, I would give them one to take home.