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Sample Lessons for Early Fluent/Fluent Readers

(Usually Second Through Third Grade)

(45 - 60 minutes)

1. Warm up Child rereads aloud from 1 - 3 familiar books (5 - 10 minutes

Or, if the child is reading longer books over several sessions, such as The Fire Cat (Averill, 1969), or Frog and Toad are Friends (Lobel, 1970) have him or her look through the parts read so far, using pictures and discussion to refresh memory of the story. Then have the child reread the last chapter or few pages completed in the last session. This emphasizes the value and pleasure of rereading familiar materials, and provides good practice to build fluency and expression. Tell the child it is like an athlete practicing throwing or dribbling a ball before a game.

2. Tutor introduces a new book or previews a new chapter for the child to read, and supports the child in reading (15 to 20 minutes)

This gives the child a chance to learn and apply strategies for figuring out a new text. (See Prereading Strategies). Before having the child read, discuss the title and cover pictures of the book or chapter heading, drawing out the child's ideas and predictions: "What's going on in this picture here? What do you think a 'fire cat' does?" (see Suggested Books for The Fire Cat.) Help the child go through the book looking at the pictures and talking about what might happen in the story. (This is called a "picture walk" or Preview, see Glossary). As you discuss the pictures, use the language of the story. Point out or ask the child to find particular key words in the text. "Yes, you were right, in the picture the fireman is rescuing Pickles, it says he 'picked up Pickles and tucked him into his coat.' Can you point to the word 'tucked'?" Or, "Now that Joe has rescued Pickles, what can he do with him? He wants to take him back to the firehouse but he has to ask the head of the firehouse, 'the chief'. Have you heard that word before? There he is sitting at his desk. Let's look at that word 'chief'."Literacy llustration

These two prereading activities are very important for helping a child become familiar with the concepts and language of the book-- building Background Knowledge, and they can be done quickly. Once completed, ask the child to read the text as independently as possible, but with your help when absolutely necessary.  Hint: Be ready to help in a supportive way, but you don't have to correct every mistake (miscue). Keep the emphasis on using strategies to make sense of the text rather than getting the exact pronunciation, word, or punctuation.

Also, it is important to allow students plenty of time to think about unfamiliar words. If they make a mistake or pause before reading a difficult word, don't jump in and give them the word right away. Instead, wait for a minute, then ask "would you like help with that word?" or remind them of a strategy or cue they can use. "What's going on in the picture? What word that starts with 'cl' would make sense in that sentence? How can Joe get up the ladder?" Often children can figure out some words, or correct their mistakes if they've previewed and talked about the book with you and are allowed adequate thinking time.

3. A brief game related to the reading, or to practice a skill (10 - 15 minutes)

Games such as Monopoly/Read Around, Concentration, or Go Fish can be made "on the spot" using words or sentences from the text just read. Other games such as "read around". (See Sample Games)

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3. Drawing and writing (10 to 15 minutes)

The goal is to encourage students to use writing and drawing to express their ideas or convey messages. Writing also helps children learn about and experiment with the structure of the English language.

Ask a student to draw or write about something that is personally meaningful. It can be just a few words or a sentence or two, or a longer piece. It can be a response to or a take-off of the book just read, or an original story or an anecdote. At the end, ask the child to read back what has been written. Give positive feedback to the message first, before commenting on or correcting the spelling or handwriting. (See Writing Activity for more ideas.)

Hint: Remember that all writing and reading development is not always even, and some children have had less experience with writing. Don't be surprised if an advanced reader is just emerging as a writer or somewhat reluctant to try. Encourage drawing and labeling or short sentences, or even offer to take dictation (See Developing a Language Experience Story) or provide story frames (see Copy Cat or Story Frames in Glossary) or a dialogue journal in which you write notes to each other.

4. Read aloud to child (10 to 15 minutes)

This is an important opportunity to model reading for pleasure, and to share a variety of good literature that a child is not yet ready to read independently. This also is a way for children to be exposed to new vocabulary, concepts and different kinds of story structures. When selecting a text to read out loud, be sure the student knows that he or she will not be expected to read this text -- now it's your turn. (See Reading Aloud) Try to be alert to your child's interest level -- is he/she listening, is the story line too complex, are there words the student doesn't know? You can model good reading and comprehension skills by asking questions and making comments: "I wonder what they mean when they say: 'he rumbled like a volcano.' Does a volcano make noise? Can a person sound like a volcano--how do you think that would sound?" Or, "Hmm, it says the moon was just coming up, and there was a hint of frost in the air. So it must be night time. And on the other page it showed pictures of all the pumpkins in the field. I know they grow ripe in September and October. Even though the story doesn't say so, all that information makes me think that it must be an early evening in the fall, probably near Halloween." Also be sure to allow the child time to study the pictures and comment or ask questions during or after reading.

5. End of session

Wind up with some positive feedback about the child's work and  attitude, and suggest a plan for the next session. "What a good job you did today. You really worked hard on your reading and writing. I can see that you are learning lots of new strategies... You listened so well to the first chapter of Charlotte's Web (White, 19??) we'll continue with that next time to find out if Fern gets to keep the baby pig... When we see each other on Thursday, you'll be able to read the next chapter of The Fire Cat to find out whether Pickles can stay in the firehouse. Do you think he will? Maybe you can write your own story about a cat or dog who gets into trouble. Be thinking about that, and if we have time, we will play a new game to practice reading and spelling those rhyming words."

6. Documentation of the tutoring session

After you have finished working with your student, take a few minutes to write down what activities and books you used, how the student responded, and what you observed about his or her progress. Also make note of how you would like to follow up in your next session. (See Sample Log)