I started the fluency focused readers’ theatre lesson cycle this week (as mentioned in last week’s post). To start the three-week lesson, six students in third, fourth, and fifth grade practiced The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.
On Monday, they were introduced to the idea of reading fluency (it’s “reading like you talk,” as defined by one of my students) and started reading the scripts. At first, I had them read the scripts in pairs, alternating lines, so that they had the opportunity to read the entire script through instead of memorizing a few lines. On Tuesday and Wednesday they kept reading different roles and worked on answering comprehension questions about the play. On Thursday they got their official “roles” and on Friday they read their scripts into a podcast recording. Throughout the week, we talked about how to increase fluency—working on words in the script that were hard (porker, wrong, and honor) and adding voice and expression to the lines.
Over the course of the week, two things surprised me. First, they didn’t get bored. I was worried that, reading the same lines over and over would become tedious, especially for these students who tend to jump to the next book, activity, or even sentence before fully understanding the initial one. But, when it did get a little boring for them, I was able jump in and challenge them with prompts such as: How do you think the wolf would say that? Or, imagine how you would feel if you were in that situation, how would your voice sound?
I was also surprised at how easy to find “new” learning for every student. On Monday, they were all working on decoding and phonics, though some more than others. By Friday, two students were still decoding and working on phonics. Two others were working on increasing their speed and accuracy with the lines. And, the final two were working on adding voice and expression where they hadn’t before. That was a nice change—usually, in a one-week plan that focuses on a specific skill, by Friday I have kids who are bored and kids who still “don’t get it.”
This coming week, they’ll be working with scripts that are a little more challenging but, judging by the comments after they recorded The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, (That was fun! Are we recording next week too?) they’re ready for it.