Playing Phonics Games to Build Fluency

  • Feb. 8, 2022, 5 p.m.

Games help our learners develop skill proficiency. A good game will challenge thinking and require the player to strategize. Here are a few of my favorite games for children learning phonics AND for older students who haven't developed their encoding and decoding proficiency.

Big Word Meltdown-The goal of this game is to make as many words as you can using only the letters in the big word. Choose a word that contains 9-15 letters. I like to choose science, social studies, or holiday words. Challenge your students to create small words using only the letters from the big word. The person or team who makes the most words wins.

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Have You Joined the Wordle Craze?

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Jan. 30, 2022, 7:55 p.m.

Are you playing Wordle? This game was created by Josh Wardle for his crossword-loving partner.  I’m obsessed! It’s the best digit game to come out since this type of entertainment became popular. It demands strategic thinking as you guess the word in six (or fewer) tries. You have to utilize your knowledge of how words work. There’s no way to binge the game, as there is only one posted game per day. It is just enough to help you exercise the gray matter and then move on. Best of all, when you guess the word you have a reason to celebrate. We need more celebration in our life! 

As an educator, I always try to evaluate game based on how they can benefit students. Games are a tool for building fluency. Fluency is defined as automaticity and/or controlled processing. When first learning a skill, our brains must make sense of the skill. When should I use the skill? What are the steps of this skill? The more feedback we get as we learn the skill, the quicker our efforts can improve. This feedback is really just good coaching! 

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Make December Magic Ideas

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Dec. 10, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

Have you seen the hashtag #makeDecembermagical? Teachers are tweeting out ideas with pictures to share ideas for how to integrate the holidays into your instruction. Here are some of those ideas:

1. Cozy Up to Learn

Use a fireplace video through Youtube (free) to display on our big screen. Pair with classical holiday tunes while students are working independently. Nothing makes it feel cozy like a fire and Christmas tunes.

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Using Poems to Get Students Analyzing

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Nov. 11, 2019, 8:20 a.m.

A great way to get students thinking at the analysis level is by using a song or poem of the week! Each day students will read and dive into thinking about the text through a different lens than before. Each time they reread, they grab another piece of new thinking and learning to add to their schema.

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November Stories and Songs

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Nov. 2, 2019, 1:09 p.m.

One of my favorite children's authors is Pat Hutchins. This month I shared two of her books that captivate young children through the rich details in the pictures. 

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Ideas to Get Students Thinking About Their Thinking

  • by Randi Anderson
  • Oct. 11, 2019, 11:08 a.m.

As an educator, one of our universal goals is to teach our students to have metacognitive strategies. Here are some ideas to get kids thinking about their thinking.

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Summer Reader's Theatre Club

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • May 6, 2019, 2:18 p.m.

Looking for a FUN summer reading opportunity to keep your students reading all summer long? Try hosting a Reader's Theater group with your school or community. Invite students from kindergarten through twelfth grade to join in on the fun!

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Summer Writing Ideas

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • May 6, 2019, 2:15 p.m.

Want to keep your students writing all summer long? Here are some summer writing ideas for your school.

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Why Read?

  • by Kelly Harmon
  • Feb. 22, 2019, 9:43 a.m.

Many struggling readers can't answer this question. They think reading is hard or boring or simply done because "you have to do it". What we can help them understand is that we read to change our heads and our hearts. We read to add to our schema and understand the human condition, and we read to help ourselves make decisions.

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Word Clouds

  • Dec. 10, 2018, 8:54 a.m.

A word cloud is an image composed of words or phrases. Individually or as a team, students create an image in which the size of each word or phrase indicates its importance to the overall meaning of the topic or text. Word clouds can be created for concepts, characters, events, and themes across content areas.

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Karaoke in the Classroom

  • Oct. 4, 2018, 9:44 a.m.

One of my favorite strategies for building fluency is using karaoke in the classroom! Youtube offers all the karaoke songs you could want for FREE!

When students participate in karaoke they are practicing reading from left to right, seeing sight words in addition to higher level vocabulary, and improving their rate. All while having a blast.

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End-of-Year Reading & Writing Activities

  • May 4, 2018, 2:46 p.m.

The end of the year is upon us. Just in case you are running out of steam, here are some ideas for May/June to keep students engaged in reading and writing.

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April: Poetry Month

  • April 10, 2018, 11:45 a.m.

Let's celebrate this month by reading a poem-a-day to our students. Hearing the rich language and imagining the vivid images described in poems develops schema and extends vocabulary. Here are a few ways to enjoy poems this month.

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Setting up a Summer Read Box

  • June 4, 2017, 3:51 p.m.

Summer is a great time to set up a Read Box for your classroom. Make it a goal to record a couple of books (or chapters) each week. Here is how to make a recording with the a QR code.

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5 Ways to Prevent Reading Loss

  • June 3, 2017, 3:50 p.m.

Summer is a much needed break for both teachers and students, but it can be a time of academic loss, too. Just like athletes who take an extended break from using muscles and skills, students who do not read over the summer will regress in fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary. Here are 5 ways teachers and parents can prevent reading loss.

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Fluency Techniques

  • May 7, 2017, 3:48 p.m.

Each day, fluent reading is being practiced. Here are some fluency techniques to help your students read with prosody and for meaning during your shared reading time.

Echo Reading

Echo reading is "I read you, then you repeat read". This is an easy reading confidence builder.

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Shared Reading in the Balanced Literacy Classroom

  • May 7, 2017, 3:46 p.m.

Shared reading is a dynamic practicing strategy for all students learning how to understand the meanings of texts. Using short texts that can be read in five to ten minute practice sessions, teachers can read with students to scaffold practice in thinking within, beyond, and about a text.

This guided practice technique helps readers understand and apply good reader thinking and fluent, meaning-making reading. The teacher's role is to model and closely monitor student thinking and oral reading. Teachers should gradually release the thinking to students as they practice the mental processes for efficient reading. Texts should be read several times for specific purposes.

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The Power of Readers' Theater

  • April 10, 2017, 3:45 p.m.

Readers' Theater is a great tool to use year round, but ESPECIALLY this time of year! Students are in the midst of reviewing and practicing for end of year assessments. They may need ways to boost their fluency and comprehension. Reader's theater is an instructional strategy that does both!

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Parent Tip: Closed Caption

  • Jan. 4, 2017, 3:51 p.m.

One of the best ways to get your young children reading is to turn on the closed caption setting on your TV's.

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Guided Reading is All About...

  • Nov. 6, 2015, 3:25 p.m.

COMPREHENSION! Yes, guided reading is all about practicing comprehension skills and strategies. In guided reading groups, teachers provide students with closely monitored practice as students begin to apply newly learned meta-cognitive strategies. Guided reading is often called "leveled reading" because students should be practicing using a text in which they know at least 90% or more of the words. Because we want to focus on applying critical comprehension skills before, during, and after reading, the text must be one that does not require a lot of attention to figuring out words.

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A Flipped Lesson for Teaching Fluency

  • Nov. 17, 2014, 3:19 p.m.

Using Educreations to Flip a Lesson on Fluency

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A Look at Fluent Reading

  • Sept. 17, 2010, 5:46 p.m.

Fluency is so much more than a number you get when you do a fluency probe. In fact, the number of words correct per minute relates to the reading rate and proficient readers adjust that rate based on the purpose of the reading.

So what is fluency? Proficient readers demonstrate prosody, which is expression and phrasing of the text, as well as accuracy and reading rate. All four criteria should be considered when gauging a student’s fluent reading behaviors.

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