Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Improving Fluency

Fluency ~ A Piece Of Cake?

The cake my dear daughter made for Easter dinner!

The Challenge

We are an RTII school. In January, all our students were DIBELS tested. After the testing, our principal met with every teacher in the school. She showed us the results of our students. Then she informed us that we had to make a plan and actively work towards moving ALL the students in our class to Tier 1, the core group. Luckily, half my students made core, but that still left 9 students to move - with some of them needing to move 2 tiers :(

The Plan

Now I needed to stop and think very carefully about how I was using every minute of my day ~ what to keep, what to delete and what to add.

What To Keep

* I kept my read aloud time. This takes awhile because we really take our time and dive totally into the  stories. I feel the time invested here is well spent since it carries over into their own reading. 
*Guided Reading had to stay. I meet with each of my three groups every day.
*RTII Time is required, no discussion allowed here.
*Spelling is used as phonics time to show how sounds work in words. This is a very short mini lesson each day with written homework.
*Lunch and Specialist

What To Delete Or Cut Back On

*I almost completely deleted recess. This wasn't too bad because our weather was awful all winter and no one really wanted to go outside. If Spring ever finds PA we will head out to play again.
*Math time was cut a bit short. It will have to be shored up in the fourth quarter.
*Oh no ~ direct instruction of writing took a big hit. This was a hard one for me, as writing was my concentration during the second quarter and my students were beginning to make good progress.
*Anthology time was shortened, but not eliminated. I like the skills taught and many of the stories are very good. The little readers that go with our program worked well as one of the guided reading books each week. The sight words and vocabulary words are appropriate.
*Science and Social Studies had to be integrated into read alouds and reading passages.

What To Add

Here's where I needed to gather new resources. Well I entered giveaways, crossed my fingers, got lucky and won some high quality materials. Then off I went to shop in my new favorite store TPT.
*Each day now began differently for my students. My 6 students needing the most assistance were identified. They now know to enter the classroom, hang up their things, and quickly meet me at the guided reading table. There I use Sight Word Fluency Passages by Miss DeCarbo they are available here. These are amazing short passages that practice important sight words. They are presented similarly to how students will see them when DIBELS testing. While this group is reading with me my other students are sitting around the room reading in pairs.  I was lucky to win Amy Marshall's March Fluency Practice available here. They practice reading to each other the poems, plays and short passages. I give them opportunities to read to the class. The March Practice was so good I have purchased the April Practice to use again this month. This only takes 15 to 20 minutes. Then we continue our morning as we used to with lunch count, etc. After which we enjoy a good story together.
*When returning to their seats, our next addition, is Jodi's Common Core Differentiated Morning Work available here. There is a page for every day of the month. On one side of each page are practice problems for ELA and math (sneaking some math in here.) The other side of the page has a word of the day. It is used in a sentence and then a paragraph. We practice reading these together and sometimes in pairs. At first these pages took a long time. Now my students whip right through them.
*Later in the day we complete one of Jodi's Spring Fluency Pages from the packet available here. This was a big purchase for me, but it has provided me with an extra fluency page for every day until the end of the year. I like that there is a theme for each week. Sometimes this can double as Science or Social Studies depending on the theme.
*The last TPT products that I use to improve fluency come from Sarah Paul. Her things are fabulous! They hit Common Core very well. I can give my students very appropriate work that they can complete while I am working with guided reading groups. Sarah's materials are available here.
Thanks to all for providing me with such high quality materials!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I first found each of these sellers by winning one of their packets in a giveaway or by trying one of their freebies :)

The Results

Well we won't DIBELS test again until May, but my DRA scores have jumped tremendously :) I am confident my students will do well in May. All but one of my students are now reading on grade level, with the majority reading well above first grade! I was very fearful of cutting back on writing instruction, but their writing has continued to improve - no loss here. What did take a slight dip was math. I will be sure to be careful about doing a great job teaching math our last quarter.

New Challenges

How to keep those high flying readers interested? Where to find high quality reading material to supplement what is in our guided reading library? Back to TPT I go. Well have you seen Tracy Tegelers' materials?  If not you've got to check this out. I think it will be tomorrow's buy. If you have any suggestions of other materials available to use in guided reading with high flying first grade readers please leave a comment below. Thanks!
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  1. Thanks for sharing so many great ideas and resources!!

  2. Thanks for all the great resources and the peek into your daily routine and how you changed it to better serve your students. I loved all the links to the different TpT products. Best of luck on Dibels in May- it sounds like your students will do wonderful! Karla

  3. I like your new layout. Very cute.
    Sounds like you were working hard and it sounds like the kids benefited from your efforts.

  4. Maria,
    Thanks so much for commenting on my blog (which led me to yours)! I'm your newest follower! I read your running page and I'm in awe!! What a challenge to run a race in all 50 states. I'm wondering if I could talk my husband into this! I can't even imagine doing the Goofy!! I ran a marathon in 2011 and 2012. I haven't decided on my goal yet for this year. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

    Pencils, Books, and Dirty Looks

  5. Maria,

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving such a nice comment. Thanks for the shout out for my units as well! I defiantly plan on units for each month in the fall! I can't wait to look around your adorable blog!

    The Resource(ful) Room

  6. You are so sweet to write such kind words about my passages. :) Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! :) Your interventions sound great!! :)

  7. Thank you so much for your sweet shout-out Maria! I'm so glad your kids are making so much progress. I love to read about what other teachers are doing to improve fluency. It sounds like you've been really working hard! Those kids are lucky to have you. :) Good work!
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  8. Great blog, you linked up on mine, and I linked back - wow - it's amazing what has become priority in terms of teaching - there are definitely not enough hours in the day to get it all in - good luck and your running journeys also sound amazing!!