Poetry is a genre of reading that opens many doors for students. The text often flows like a song. It can be short but still hold complex meaning. Poetry lends itself well to repeated reading and fluency practice. It is a wonderful way for ELLs to practice oral language skills.
When you are selecting poems to read with students make sure to include diverse poems that highlight a range of cultures and topics. Here are some tips for using poetry to help improve students reading fluency.
Read Poems Outloud
Reading a poem out loud allows students to hear fluent reading modeled. You can add in examples of reading with expression and emotion.
Discuss the Poems Meaning
Students need to understand what a poem is about in order to fluently read it. One aspect of reading fluency of expression. Is the topic of the poem happy, sad, scary, ext.? Do your feelings change throughout the poem? How do the characters in the poem feel? For ELLs include pictures or have students illustrate the poem to further help with comprehension.
Use Choral Reading
Choral reading gives students the chance to practice reading out loud but with the safety of reading in a group. It is a great way to introduce students to a wide range of texts, including ones that are too difficult for the student to decode independently.
Use Echo Reaching
Echo reading is when the teacher reads one line of a poem and the students repeat (or echo) that same line. This strategy is good for longer poems or sections of a poem that have challenging vocabulary. It is also helpful for beginning ELLs that are overwhelmed with reading an entire poem at one time.
Read the Poem Silently
After listening to a poem read out loud and reading it with a group, students can practice reading the poem silently (or whisper reading depending on the reading level of the student.) As they are rereading it they are able to focus on reading fluency. The student has heard an example of how the poem sounds as it is fluently read. Now they have the chance to attempt this themself.
Read the Poem Outloud
Finally, the student reads the poem out loud. At this point, they should be able to focus on their reading fluency and be successful. Students can read out loud to a partner, the teacher, or a small group.
Perform the Poem
Some of the time have students perform or “publish” their poetry readings. This is an authentic reason for students to practice rereading the poem. Students can perform individually or as a group. They can also record themself reading the poem. For some students, this can lower their stress since recording gives them the opportunity to delete the file and try again.
Create a Poetry Folder / Notebook
A poetry folder or notebook is a way to organize all of the poems that students have practiced as a group. The poetry collection can be added to a student’s independent reading material. Since the student has heard the poems read aloud and practiced reading them with support, they will most likely not have to spend time decoding the words. This will allow even struggling readers to practice reading fluency during independent reading time.
Fluency Passages Bundle– A collection of nursery rhymes, poems, and songs for students to use for fluency practice.