Fluency


 
 

LET'S BE TACKY
 

Denise Shealey

Rationale:  In order to become fluent readers, children must read and reread text.  This increases the automaticity of their word recognition, which in turn leads to smoother, faster reading.  This lesson involves rereading and aims to not only help make reading smoother, but more expressive by way of learning a script and performing a play.

Materials:  Enough copies of Tacky the Penguin for every other child; copy of script for each child; props listed on script; and check-sheets for fluency, one per child.

Procedure:  (All-caps are spoken by teacher; other print is instructive.)
1) TO BECOME GOOD READERS, WE NEED TO PRACTICE.  A MUSICIAN DOESN'T
JUST SIT DOWN AND START PLAYING, HE OR SHE PRACTICES - A LOT.  READING
IS LIKE THAT.  THE MORE WE READ, THE BETTER WE READ AND THE FASTER WE
READ.  WE ALSO NEED TO READ WITH EXPRESSION.  I WILL READ A SENTENCE TWO WAYS AND YOU TELL ME WHICH WAY YOU LIKE BEST.  Read:  SOMEBODY BROKE MY FAVORITE CHAIR.  First in monotone and then with expression - could read two ways: one angry and one sad.  NOW, WHICH WAS BEST?  DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE DIFFERENCE?   THAT IS WHAT MAKES A BOOK COME TO LIFE.

2) NOW I WILL READ A BOOK TO YOU.  THE BOOK IS CALLED TACKY THE PENGUIN.
I WILL SHOW YOU HOW TO READ IT WITH EXPRESSION. YOU NEED TO GET INTO GROUPS OF TWO WITH YOUR READING BUDDY AND I WILL PASS OUT A BOOK TO EACH PAIR SO YOU CAN READ ALONG WITH ME.  Read the book.

3)  THERE ARE SOME LONG WORDS IN THERE.  WHAT WERE SOME OF THEM?  Write
words on the chalkboard as they are suggested.   Companions, politely, graceful, cannonballs, iceberg, distance, puzzled, and dreadfully are likely candidates.   REMEMBER THAT WHEN WE FIND A WORD WE DON'T KNOW, WE USE THE COVERUP STRATEGY TO HELP US PRONOUNCE IT.   WE CAN ALSO USE CROSS-CHECKING TO SEE IF IT MAKES SENSE.  If cannonballs was one of their problem words: LOOK ON PAGE 11, TACKY LIKED TO DO SPLASHY CANOEBALLS.  DOES THAT MAKE SENSE?  NO, IT DOESN'T.  Read the sentence correctly (with cannonballs).  WE'VE ALL DONE A CANNONBALL AT THE POOL, HAVEN'T WE?  Hopefully, all have.  Demonstrate both strategies with several of the suggested words.

4) WE ARE GOING TO DO A FLUENCY CHECK.  Pass out a fluency check-sheet to each child.  ONE OF EACH PAIR WILL READ, AND YOUR PARTNER WILL MARK THE CHECK-SHEET AS YOU READ.  THE PARTNER WILL BE LISTENING FOR EXPRESSION.  TRY TO MAKE THE PASSAGE SOUND AS REAL AS YOU CAN.  Score should be recorded on the check-sheet.

5) NEXT WE WILL TAKE PARTS AND LEARN TACKY THE PENGUIN AS A PLAY.  Assign
parts.  The play, as written, has ten parts.  Could divide narrator part for more or have two separate casts.  IN THE FLUENCY CHECK, WE WERE WORKING ON EXPRESSION.  NOW WE BE EXPRESSIVE IN A DIFFERENT WAY, EACH OF YOU WILL SHOW WHAT ONE CHARACTER FEELS.  DIFFERENT CHARACTERS NEED DIFFERENT VOICES.  TACKY IS LOUD AND FUN.  THE OTHER PENGUINS ARE PRISSY AND A LITTLE SNOBBY.  THE HUNTERS ARE ROUGH AND GRUFF.  TRY TO MATCH THE SPEED OF YOUR SPEAKING TO WHAT IS GOING ON.  WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PENGUINS WERE FEELING WHEN THEY KNEW THE HUNTERS WERE COMING?  Fear.  DON'T WE TALK A LITTLE FASTER WHEN WE'RE SCARED?  TRY TO USE BODY AND FACIAL EXPRESSIONS TO SHOW HOW THE CHARACTERS ARE FEELING.  THE NARRATOR SIMPLY NEEDS TO SPEAK CLEARLY.  Children need to practice their parts many times to learn them.  Walk around as they practice and coach the students in their use of expression.  Performing for lower grades is a good start.  The younger children will be impressed and this morale boost will encourage the cast to participate again and to try even harder next time.

6) After the performance(s), pair the students up again and do another fluency check.  Record each student's score on his/her check-sheet.  Having done one before and one after working on the play will show the effectiveness of this method.

References:
a) Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester, 1988, Houghton Mifflin, NY.
b) Literacy for the 21rst Century, Gail E. Tompkins, 1997, Prentice Hall, NJ, page 173.
c) Check-sheet for fluency - The Reading Genie @ www.auburn.edu/~murraba/fluency.html
d) Play script - adapted by De Shealey from Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester.
 
 
 
 

Script for Tacky the Penguin Play

Adapted by De Shealey from Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester
 

Characters:
Narrator
Tacky (a penguin who marches to the beat of a different drummer)
The other Penguins (who probably suffer from peer-pressure):
Goodly
Lovely
Angel
Neatly
Perfect
The Hunters (rough, gruff and not too smart): Small, Medium, Large

Setting:  Antarctica
Props:   Have all penguins wear black sweat-suits
Bright Hawaiian type shirt and plaid bow tie for Tacky
Solid colored bow ties for the other penguins
Rumpled hats for the hunters
White sheet to put over a filing cabinet = block of ice

(Cast directions given in parentheses and indented.)

Narrator: ONCE THERE WAS A PENGUIN. HE LIVED ON AN ICY LAND WITH HIS COMPANIONS.   HIS NAME WAS TACKY AND HIS COMPANIONS WERE NAMED GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT.
(These characters politely wave at audience as name is called.)
TACKY WAS AN ODD BIRD.
(Tacky waves energetically to audience.)
EVERY DAY, GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT GREETED EACH OTHER QUIETLY AND POLITELY.

Goodly:  HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?  (To Angel)

Lovely:  HOW DO YOU DO?  (To Neatly)

Angel:  FINE, THANKS.

Neatly: CHARMED, I'M SURE.

Perfect: ISN'T THIS A BEAUTIFUL DAY.  (To all.)

Tacky: WHAT'S HAPPENING?
(He loudly and gives Perfect a hearty slap on the back.)

Narrator: GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT ALWAYS MARCHED
 1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4.
(Other penguins march in a straight line left, right, left, right.)
TACKY ALWAYS MARCHED 1-2-3-4-2-3-6-0-2 1/2.
(Tacky stumbles, leaps, twirls, and trips.)
 HIS COMPANIONS WERE GRACEFUL DIVERS.
(Other penguins pretend to dive and swim across stage.)

Tacky:  I LIKE TO DO CANNONBALLS!
(Tacky pretends to do a cannonball with a big splash.)

Narrator: GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT ALWAYS SANG PRETTY SONGS.
(Other penguins line up and sing La, La, La like in a warm up.)

Goodly: LET'S SING "SUNRISE ON THE ICEBERG."

Tacky: I LIKE TO SING “HOW MANY TOES DOES A FISH HAVE?”
(He sings the title in a loud voice and the other penguins put their hands over their ears.)

Lovely: TACKY IS SUCH AN ODD BIRD.

Narrator: ONE DAY THE PENGUINS HEARD SOMETHING IN THE DISTANCE.
(Sound effects: thump, thump, thump.)

Angel: DID YOU HEAR THAT?

Neatly: IT SOUNDS LIKE FOOTSTEPS.

Perfect: IT COULD ONLY MEAN ONE THING.

Goodly: HUNTERS.
(All penguins act frightened.)

Narrator: THE HUNTERS CAME WITH MAPS AND TRAPS AND ROCKS AND LOCKS, AND THEY WERE ROUGH AND TOUGH.  AS THE THUMP, THUMP, THUMP DREW CLOSER, THE PENGUINS COULD HEAR THE GROWLY VOICES CHANTING.

Hunters: WE'RE GONNA CATCH SOME PRETTY PENGUINS, AND WE'LL MARCH 'EM WITH A SWITCH, AND WE'LL SELL 'EM FOR A DOLLAR, AND GET RICH, RICH, RICH!

Narrator: GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT RAN AWAY IN FRIGHT AND HID BEHIND A BLOCK OF ICE.  TACKY STOOD ALONE.  THE HUNTERS MARCHED RIGHT UP TO HIM, CHANTING:

Hunters: WE'RE GONNA CATCH SOME PRETTY PENGUINS, AND WE'LL MARCH 'EM WITH A SWITCH, AND WE'LL SELL 'EM FOR A DOLLAR, AND GET RICH, RICH, RICH!

Tacky: WHAT'S HAPPENING?
(He gives one hunter a very hearty slap on the back.)

Hunter Large: WE'RE HUNTING FOR PENGUINS.  THAT'S WHAT'S HAPPENING.

Tacky: PENNNNGUINS?  DO YOU MEAN THOSE BIRDS THAT MARCH NEATLY IN A ROW?
(Tacky stumbles, leaps, twirls, and trips.)

Narrator:  THE HUNTERS LOOKED PUZZLED.

Tacky: DO YOU MEAN THOSE BIRDS THAT DIVE SO GRACEFULLY?
(Tacky pretends to do a cannonball with a big splash.)

Narrator: THE HUNTERS LOOKED WET.

Tacky: DO YOU MEAN THOSE BIRDS THAT SING SUCH LOVELY SONGS?
(Tacky and the other penguins - from behind the block of ice - all sing loudly.)

Tacky and other penguins: HOW MANY TOES DOES A FISH HAVE?  AND HOW MANY WINGS ON A COW?  I WONDER.  YUP, I WONDER.

Narrator: THE HUNTERS COULD NOT STAND THE TERRIBLE NOISE.  THIS COULD NOT BE THE LAND OF THE PRETTY PENGUINS.  THEY RAN AWAY WITH THEIR HANDS OVER THEIR EARS.
(Hunters run off stage.)
THEY LEFT BEHIND THEIR MAPS AND TRAPS AND ROCKS AND LOCKS, AND THEY DID NOT LOOK AT ALL ROUGH OR TOUGH.
 GOODLY, LOVELY, ANGEL, NEATLY, AND PERFECT HUGGED TACKY.

Lovely: TACKY, YOU ARE AN ODD BIRD, BUT A VERY NICE BIRD TO HAVE AROUND.

(Cast takes a bow.)
 
 


 
 
 

                                                Musical Activity for "Tacky the Penguin"

1. Have the class compose music to go with HOW MANY TOES DOES A FISH HAVE?

2. Study existing verses: HOW MANY TOES DOES A FISH HAVE?  AND HOW MANY

WINGS ON A COW?  I WONDER.  YUP, I WONDER.

3. Compose more verses.  This is an exercise in one-syllable words.

4. Rules:
 HOW MANY ____ DOES A ____ HAVE?
AND HOW MANY _____ ON A _____?
I WONDER.  YUP, I WONDER.

a) First blank is a one syllable physical attribute in plural form

b) Second blank is a one syllable animal

c) Word possibilities:

- Cat, dog, mouse, goat, sheep, snake, rat, ape, horse, mule, snail, quail, bat, ant, duck, fly, goose, swan, owl, shark, bird, frog, crab, toad, whale, squid, hawk, moose, deer, elk, bear, skunk, shrimp, bug, seal, chick

- Legs, arms, lips, eyes, bones, fur, hairs, chests, ears, knees, nails, cheeks, shins, beaks, fins, heads, claws, paws, horns, shells, scales, gills, tails, teeth, fangs, tongues, hooves

If children enjoy this activity, another piece could be composed for  "SUNRISE ON THE ICEBERG."  This activity would entail composing music as well as lyrics.
 

"Tacky the Penguin" by Helen Lester, 1988, Houghton Mifflin, NY
For more information email shealdp@auburn.edu
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