Improve Reading Fluency with Reading Buddies

Many of my students struggle with FLUENCY.
They can read the words accurately.
But sometimes they sound like robots.
Fast robots.
Slow robots.
or worst of all...
Bored robots.

So I tried a bunch of oral reading as a whole class.
And some partner work.
And we practiced and we practiced and we practiced.
I even monthly fluency tests, which helped many of them.
I made this fun fluency packet:

But then I wanted a more realistic way for these students to practice reading orally and developing their fluency. I wanted them to get into the stories, to read with different voices, and to express the emotion of the book. 
And it just wasn't working with their classmates. 
They are "too cool" or they "feel funny" reading it dramatically to their peers.

And then it dawned on me...
We needed a different audience.
younger audience.
So our Pre-school Reading Buddy Program was started!
Here's how it works:
Each student was assigned a preschool buddy.
They met their buddies and filled in these questionnaires to help guide them as they chose books:
Then, twice a month my student peruse the "little kids" section of the library to find the book that is just right for their "buddy." We practice the books in class and at home (each student has to practice to at least two people - parents, siblings, neighbors, etc.) and then we're ready to read to our buddies!
The students LOVE to read to their buddies - it's definitely their favorite days of the month. It's so fun to see them sift through the books in the library, trying to find one that their buddy will especially enjoy.

 This student loved our Bucket Filling project so much that she wanted to share the book with her preschool buddy!

 This student just moved here from Brazil - but she jumped right on board for the Buddy program:
*Note: it's an awesome experience for ELL or ESL students - builds their confidence and allows them to practice speaking English orally and fluently!

Each month the students update their Book Log to remember the books they've read to their buddies:

And last month we got a special of our "buddies" read to us!
It was so sweet to hear my students clap, cheer, and encourage him on!

Interested in TRYING Reading Buddies? Click here to download these forms for FREE:

Do Unto Otters - Treating Others the Way We Want to be Treated

Books can be a powerful way of communicating important truths with your students. Here is one book I LOVE that teaches a lifelong lesson.
Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller is a fantastic story that drives home the idea that we need to treat others the way we want to be treated: with kindness, respect, and understanding. Set the tone for the year and help encourage a positive classroom community with this fantastic book. 
You can buy the book on Amazon! Click here to shop-->
*Note: This is an affiliate link, which means I receive a small commission for sharing, at no cost to you)

To extend this story and continue the discussion with my students I have created this little booklet that your students can make to talk about and review the important character traits mentioned in the book:
It includes a poster for you to display in your classroom as well as the booklet pages to discuss 12 important character traits. There is also a page where your student can sign a commitment pledge to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Do you have any other book suggestions on this topic? I'd love to hear them! E-mail me!

Also - if you use this book and/or student booklet in your classroom, I'd love to see pictures! E-mail me and I'll feature you on my blog! :)

Class Conversations: Idea for Building Classroom Community

Do your students like to talk? 
Mine do!
I wanted to give them time to talk and share with their classmates – but rather than a chaotic free-for-all, I wanted to create an activity that would provide them with an opportunity to talk and teach them a valuable life skill at the same time. 
Thus Class Conversation Cards were born! 

Build classroom community while allowing your students to develop their speaking and listening skills: Sounds like a win-win to me!

Here’s how it works: 
*Before we start this weekly routine I did a mini-lesson with my class about what Class Conversations look like and sound like as well as some suggested sentence starters for them to use when responding to each other’s comments.
*Divide your class into groups of 4-5 students. (you can change the groups each time or keep them the same all year)
*Assign one student in each group to be the Discussion Leader and one to be the Scribe (optional). 
*Give them each a card (or read a card out loud for the whole class to use) 
*Set the timer. I usually let the kids talk for 5-7 minutes, depending on the conversation topic and the schedule for the day.  
*While the group is talking, have them display the “Actively Conversing” card
*When they are finished talking, have them switch to the “Finished Conversing” card
*At the end of the time, the Scribe can share the highlights from each group’s conversation with the whole class (optional)

I have included the posters I use in my classrooms plus blank ones for you to customize and/or use as a place for the students to take notes. I have also included the name tag tents for the Discussion Leader and Scribe, as well as the sign tents for “Actively Conversing” and “Finished Conversing” (available in color and B&W)
I have included 36 Class Conversation Cards – one for every week in the school year. They can be used in any order. I have created a checklist for you to use to keep track of the prompts you’ve used throughout the year. These can also be used as journal writing prompts.

Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store to purchase this print-and-go resource with conversation cards for the whole year!

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