Friday, January 30, 2015

Goldilocks Speed Drills

When I work with readers who are having trouble with word recognition and fluency, I like to preview words with a speed drill before they read a text. (This article from ldonline is a nice introduction to speed drills. ) 

To make a speed drill, I simply take a selection of words from a text and put them into a table. "But which words do you choose?" some teachers ask. My choices are partly intuitive, but I do use a rough formula:

  • Words that need to be pronounced correctly
  • Visually similar words
  • Words with inflected endings
  • Words which carry significant meaning in the text
  • Words that are easy to say, but harder to define

Here is a speed drill that I made for a set of texts about landforms of the Northeast. I included the names of the states because, if nothing else, I want kids to be able to pronounce Connecticut!

The second speed drill, which I made for "Groundhog Day" by Lillian Moore, includes some words that are not in the original text. The group that I was working with was having trouble with visually similar words, and I wanted them to practice reading words with different endings.

Goldilocks Reading

Just reading the speed drill can be kind of monotonous. Luckily, my husband (who teaches third grade) taught me Goldilocks Readings. 

First read: Too slow
Second read: Too fast
Third read: Just right

It is so much fun, and so helpful for intermediate readers. Of course, during our slow reading of the words, I exaggerate the syllabication and the emphasis. It only takes one read-through for kids to pick up on this process and they enjoy slowing down their reading as well. 

After the Speed Drill

On some speed drills, I add questions to encourage students to make predictions. On others, I include questions about word awareness and vocabulary use (find the compound words, look for synonyms, etc.) But the speed drill doesn't become a long vocabulary task. Instead, we keep the focus on read the words with accuracy and getting ready for the real reading task--because that is where we are always, always going!

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