A couple of years ago, I was fortunate to teach in a district that hired a reading consultant that met with my grade level several times a year. We discussed the reading progress of our students. Dibels was one of the scores we discussed. She told us something interesting that really brought home to me the power of a true balanced literacy program. She said there are typically 3 times that new students are added to the reading specialist schedule.
1ST GRADE: Students who lack phonemic awareness and phonics skills are referred for extra support.
3RD GRADE: A new group show up on the horizon when students are introduced to academic language in 3rd grade. These students lack phonics skills needed to decode the more academic language. These students were often early readers. Many learned to read before entering school. They are often sight word readers, but have limited phonics skills. As you can imagine, when the 3rd grade teacher tells the parent of an early reader that their child needs additional support in reading, there are looks of disbelief from the parents. Some parents feel this is more of a problem with the teacher’s instruction than their child’s reading skills.
MIDDLE SCHOOL: The last “new crop” of students occurs when a student enters middle school. These students can usually decode and comprehend the meaning of words, but their fluency rate is very low. Middle school students are expected to read vast amounts of material in a short period of time, so even though they can read and comprehend the words, they fall behind in their studies.
The bottom line is a quality program needs balance. Where do you find more time in an already hectic day? My answer was to work smarter. We incorporated some fluency activities during our reading group lessons and added a fluency center and file folder games. My students’ fluency rate improved when I became more balanced in my approach to reading.
I made a fluency activity called Sentence Shuffles in reading levels K-5 because as you know, in any class you will have students reading above, below, and on grade level. We need a wide variety of levels at our fingertips that are ready to go.
This can be set up as a center or as a folder game. I personally prefer to set this up as folder games so it can be used as a early finisher activity. Plus, you never know when you might be moved to a small classroom. Folder games work much better in small classrooms.
This is a sneak peek of my Easter Sentence Shuffle folder. I use a 3 prong folder with 1 page protector and a binder divider with pockets. I keep the word cards in the page protector and copies of the writing assignments in the binder divider.
There are 2 different versions of the word cards. One is black and white which is ink friendly. I still like for my stuff to be colorful so I print it on colorful paper. It only uses 6 sheets of colorful paper. Or there is a colorful version which has a different colored frame around the words.
Students shuffle the cards and sort them into piles. They will sort by color in the colorful version of the game and sort by pattern of the frame around the phrases in the black and white version. Students will put the cards on the sorting sheet. There is a colorful sorting sheet and black & white sorting sheet.
Students will practice making sentence that are real and nonsense. This is also a great center to reinforce sentence formation because students quickly figure out that the card with the capital letter is always first and the card that ends with a period, question mark, or exclamation mark is the last card. Not only are they strengthening their fluency skills, but they working on writing skills, too.
Add a few tools like the ones in the picture to make it fun. Students put a red puff ball on the punctuation mark and a green puff ball on the capital letter at the beginning of the sentence.
After students finish making and reading sentences at the Sentence Shuffle Center, they will complete a writing extension. There are 3 assignments to choose from so you can differentiate the center.
Do your students forget important details like punctuation marks and capital letters? Let them use a BINGO dauber to stamp the beginning letter with green and the ending punctuation mark with red.
There is also an Easter mini-book included. To save time, let your students make the mini-book during center time. It is an easy center to set up. All you need are book printables, crayons, scissors, pencil, and stapler.
There are also 3 printables that you can use with your interactive journal notebooks. The beginning, middle, end can be used with any book about rabbits or Easter. You can also set this up as a book center. There is a rabbit fact printable. Perfect extension after you do a fact vs. opinion mini-lesson. Students will strengthen their writing skills with the Easter vocabulary – Super Sentences assignment.
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