Melissa Cheesman Smith is co-author of The Megabook of Fluency, a winner of the Learning® Magazine 2019 Teachers’ Choice Award for the Classroom. She joins EDU to discuss the relationship between joy and fluency in reading.
I am terrible at crafting. I don't know if I’m terrible because I don’t like it, or if I don’t like it because I’m terrible at it. Either way, it is not something I choose to do for fun. I find joy in things that I am good at.
Perhaps joy comes from the ease of, satisfaction from, or comfort in doing the task. Playing the piano creates joy for me. While I’m no concert pianist, I enjoy it because I am good at it, which then makes me want to do it more. This, of course, then makes me better at it, which creates a remarkable cycle: We enjoy, we practice, we become better. Then we enjoy even more, and the cycle continues. This can apply to anything we learn in life from music to sports to reading.
I recently read Braving the Wilderness (Brené Brown) where she writes, simply, that joy matters.
Success is important because we have to help kids find opportunities for joy in what they do at school. When we consider the cycle, kids will find joy in reading when they do it often and become better at it. Research supports this.
There are so many opportunities for joy! Since the most proven way to become better at something is to do it often, we can take advantage of this. This is a fluency term known as repeated reading: practicing the same text over and over to become “better” at it. This is fluency, through which we help readers find joy! There is an intrinsic joy in doing something well, in learning, in accomplishment. Reading fluency is no exception.
The Megabook of Fluency brings the best of the best in strategy and text to bring joyfulness to reading by making readers more fluent in an engaging way.
Reading fluency embodies a series of factors to help readers become more fluent using the EARS model.
- E – Expression: Reading confidently with expression and tone that matches the meaning of the text. Students have to really show understanding of the text in order to make their expression match.
- A – Automatic Word Recognition: Students can use strategies to learn to read words automatically as they become more familiar with them and have many opportunities for practice.
- R – Rhythm and Phrasing: Students learning to read words with appropriate pauses as well as in chunks - phrase-by-phrase instead of line-by-line helps them read naturally with rhythm.
- S – Smoothness: Reading with flow and without hesitation or mistakes comes from practice. Reading with smoothness is the mark of a fluent reader, but only comes with practice.
These elements of EARS have been thoughtfully developed throughout the book through 50+ fluency strategies. How can you NOT find joy in this excerpt of a song, “Mom, You Aren’t Fourteen!” included in the book: Do you want to run away / When your mom thinks it’s Broadway / And she tries to sing the songs / just to act like she belongs; / half the words she says are wrong /Oh, why is this song so long /Mom, you aren’t fourteen!
How easy it is to bring the joy of reading with engaging and research based strategies such as this included in The Megabook of Fluency in both theory and practice. The teacher will begin the cycle by finding the appropriate strategy, using the provided text, and the kids are ready for…. joy!