Decoding and Fluency Strategies

This week in our book study we are talking about Goals 3 and 4: Decoding and Fluency.

If you've missed this book study, you can catch up with these links!
Getting Started
Goals 1 & 2: Emergent Reading and Engagment
Goals 3 & 4: Decoding and Fluency
{affiliate links are included in this post}

Goal 3: Supporting Print Work {Decoding}


Decoding is pretty much our jam in first grade, right?  I have all of the decoding strategies posted (found HERE) in my room just like any good primary teacher... But sometimes we get so caught up in decoding and sounding out words (visual cues), that comprehension suffers (meaning and syntax clues).  As Serravallo says on page 76...

"Sometimes, as children are learning to read, they overemphasize on one or two of the sources of information or use each inconsistently.  This affects their accuracy rate and often ultimately limits their comprehension."

I believe that we have good intentions, but it is easy to fall into the trap of sounding out, segmenting and blending and leave comprehension at the door.  I'm as guilty as anyone else!  The way I've tried to get around this is by forcing myself to pair a VISUAL strategy with either a MEANING or SYNTAX strategy at the same time, instead of teaching them in isolation.

As I blogged about last week, I am focusing on getting your mouth ready in our tutoring sessions (which, interestingly, I didn't read a specific strategy for this one in this chapter...maybe I missed it, but I use this all the time!).  But each time we discuss this strategy or I prompt my kiddo, I make sure and say, "Look at the picture, then get your mouth ready."  That way I'm prompting her to use meaning and visual clues together.  I believe that in the long run, this with make her a more successful reader.

Strategy 3.7: Slow Down the Zoom, Zoom, Zoom to Make Sense

I loved the wording in this strategy.  I typically have prompted with, "Stop. Think. Does this make sense" which worked just fine.  BUT, I love the race car strategy and think this would work well for engaging boys. Basically, you tell readers to try not to be a zoom zoom reader, but to slow down and think during reading.

I thought it would be fantastic to give little reading cars/hot wheels to kids who are tactile and let them drive their car the pace they are reading.  When they get to a spot they need help making sense of, they would slow down or stop their car.  I don't think this would be appropriate for lower level students, but levels E and higher I think it could be a powerful visual for kids!

Goal 4: Teaching Fluency


Just as decoding is my jam in first grade, I feel like I have to work really hard to give fluency the attention it deserves.  But as I've seen with my own kiddo, even modeling fluency transfers to kids and goes hand in hand with comprehension.  There were so many great strategies, but I narrowed it down to one that I seem to focus a lot on in first grade.

Strategy 4.6: Punctuation at the End of a Sentence

As Serravallo mentions, once kids hit a level D or so, it is blatantly obvious who can recognize and attend to punctuation.  I think missing out on reading the punctuation is one of the biggest reasons kids struggle comprehending text.  It completely changes the meaning when punctation isn't read!

I use many of the same prompts mentioned for this strategy, but I love how she talks about having kids "look ahead" to get ready for the punctuation!  I have this chart hanging in my guided reading area and I give each punctuation mark and hand motion to help give some TPR to my kids that like to move! :)


Here are the motions I use for each punctuation mark...
? - scoop and slide your hand to the air as your voice sliiiiiiides up!
! - make your hand blinking for excitement as your voice reads excitedly.
. - make your hand into the stop signal as your voice stops to read the period.
, - snap your fingers as this is a quick break.

I don't usually focus on the comma until about level G or so, but then we talk about how a period is a longer break I can take a breath for and a comma is as quick as a snap.

It seems tedious, but it really does work.  And it's amazing how much more kids understand when they read with expression and attend to punctuation!


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