Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Partner Poems for Fluency

Timothy V. Rasinski, David L. Harrison and Gay Fawcett published Partner Poems for Building Reading Fluency: Grades 4-6, a collection of 40 multi-voice poems and comprehension activities. Rasinski, a well known fluency researcher, has frequently written about the benefits of using poetry to develop fluency. Some of my blogs about his writings are available here, here and here. He developed the Fast Start Reading program which incorporates home practice of poetry in order to develop fluency for early readers. (Some information about this is available in my blog here.) This book provides practice exercises in collaborative reading exercises. In order to reduce the possibility that reading will become merely about speed, the comprehension exercises are important.

The idea of multi-voice poems and passages is not new. The You Read to Me, I'll Read to You series has nine volumes available at Amazon. Paul Fleischman has written a couple of poetry volumes as well. These poems encourage students to read with one another and practice fluency. This volume adds to the available selection for students to read and perform. While the recommended grade range of the book is upper elementary, combing the collection reveals poems that younger students would enjoy as well as ones that older ones could revel in.

The introduction has one part written by each author. Their viewpoints on fluency and reading poems is presented. Then there is a section entitled Strategies for Using Partner Poems to Enhance Reading Fluency. This section discusses general strategies for fluency practice including repeated reading and modeling. Modeling multi-voice poetry can be tricky with only one teacher in the room. Teachers may need to enlist partners from other grades or record examples when more adults are available. Students in classrooms with more than one adult have it lucky in this regard. Adults can demonstrate how to read the particular poem- listening while reading is a fluency strategy- then discuss why voices were used in the way they were. A discussion of how prosody impacts meaning for the listener can lead to or come from discussions about authors' craft. Why do they choose the words and punctuation in the piece? How does reading it with expression demonstrate meaning and facilitate interest? Later discussions can include rhetoric, figurative language and poetic devices. This is a jumping point, not an ending station.

A fun easy reference for the classroom, not really a read alone. Certainly a read with the class.

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