Reading and Poetry Theatre



Turneqois  Mark

Objective:  Students will be able build fluency by reading poetry by cross checking or cover-up; the students will use a time sheet to check for fluency and a sheet to check their partner’s skills in increasing fluency.  

Rationale:  To learn to read and spell words, students must not only learn that letters are symbols that stand for phonemes, or vocal gestures, but also use their knowledge of those letter sound relationships to decode and recognize words. However, this is simply the beginning.  In order to read fluently, students have to recognize words effortlessly and automatically.  Because they do not have to concentrate on draining word identification strategies, students will read faster, more accurately, and will comprehend what they read.  This lesson will help students build fluency by concentrating on faster reading. Research shows that faster reading is developed by repeated readings.  Therefore, in this lesson the students will practice fluency by reading and rereading texts with a partner.  They will then assess each other by giving one minute reads.


-White board/markers

-Document Poster with Text written on it for modeling.

       -Bud is a sub.

       -Bud the sub is not big.

-stop watches (one per pair of students)

-paper for making notes

-Decodable book: Cushman, Sheila. Bud the Sub. (1990). Educational Insights. Carson, California. (text used to model)

-Copies of the Time Sheet (one copy per student)

-What I noticed about my partner form (one copy per student)

Time Sheet
Your Name:
Your Partner’s Name:
First Time:                                 Second Time:                          Third Time:

Fourth Time:                              Fifth Time:

-Poetry books: Shell Silverstein-Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974) Harper Collins Publishers

                        My Honey Bear Book of Rhymes (1980) A Division of Unisystems, Inc.

                        The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury by Jack Prelutsky (1999) Random House Children's Books

                        The Random House Book of Poetry by Jack Prelutsky (1983) Random House Children's Books


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining the importance of fluent reading, “Today we are going to practice our reading fluency.  In order to become fluent readers, you must become automatic with your words.  Fluent readers do not too much time figuring out the different sounds in each word, they recognize them more quickly. Doing this makes reading much faster, and it helps us to remember what we read.  We are going to work on reading faster today by reading poems many times to present in The Reading and Poetry Theatre.”

2.  Model the strategies good readers use when they come to a word they do not know (ex: cross checking, vowel first body/coda blending, and cover ups.) “Let’s talk a little bit about what makes a good reader.  Some of the things that make a good reader are reading fast, smoothly and with expression.  I know you all know the difference of reading fast and reading slow, but what about reading smoothly?  Reading smoothly means that you do not stumble over words by trying to decode or figure out what the word is.  Your words are to have a constant flow that allows the sentence to make sense. Do you know what reading with expressions mean?  When you read with expressions, you act out the words in the sentences.  For instance, if you read the sentence:  She screamed, “No!” you would say it they way you think she would have said it.  If the girl screamed “No” you would say it with more emotions than the girl just saying “No”.  Let us talk about some strategies that can help us become a better reader.  What would you do if you read a word and you did not know what the word says?   A good way to figure out that word is to cover up part of the word leaving only the vowel. (Model reading the word blunt. Cover up the –bl and the –nt.  Leave only the u and say ‘/u/’.)  Once you know what the vowel says, you can add the first part of the word.  (Model: -blu. Say ‘/b/l/u/’). After you blend the first part with the vowel, you can add on the last part of the word. (Model: uncover the whole word. Say ‘/b/l/u/n/t/.’ If you can’t figure out that tricky word this way, you can try another strategy.  A good way to figure the word out is to finish reading the sentence.”  I will allow the children to give some input on how to decode unknown words.

3.  I will model how to reread a sentence to help increase fluency. Using a poster with the words written displayed for all of the students to see.  “I am going to read a sentence from this book, Bud the Sub. I want you to play close attention to how I am reading the sentence and tell me what you notice about my reading after I am finished.” The first time I will model reading the sentence slowly by decoding each individual phoneme. “Bbbbuuuddd iiisss a s…s… (model the cover up strategy for the word sub.) I will cover up the s and the b. I know that the letter u in this word says /u/.  I will add back the first part /s/u/. /su/.  Then I will add the last part, /su/ /b/. Oh sub, like a boat that goes underwater! What did you notice about my reading? It was slow. It took a lot of energy to read.  I had to sound out each word. It was choppy.” The second time I will model reading a little faster by chunking the words, but I will not change the tone in my voice. “I am going to read this sentence again, and I will try to speed up my reading. Bud is a sub. What did you notice about my reading this time? It is still choppy.  It could be faster. I could add expression.”  The third time I will model reading fast and with expression by changing my tone. “Bud is a sub (emphasize sub). Who can tell me the difference between the first and last time that I read the sentence?  Which time did I read the most fluently?  Notice that each time I read the sentence, I read a little bit faster and with more expression.  This rereading skill is what you will be practicing today.”

4.  Guided Practice: “To see if your fluency can improve by simply re-reading a text, turn to the person next to you and take turns reading this sentence three times. ‘Bud the sub is not big.’ In pairs, I want you to discuss the differences you notice when your partner read the sentence the first time and during the third time.”

5. Activity: “You just saw how you’re reading improved by re-reading the same sentence only three times. Now you are going to get a chance to speed up your reading by reading a poem of your choice many times.  I know you will read faster every time you read your poem, because you read faster when reading the sentence only three times. I want you to read this poem enough times that you will feel comfortable in reading all of the words faster and with lot of expression to be sure that you keep the audience interested.  After repeatedly reading your poem to yourself, you will recite your poem to the class in the ‘Reading and Poetry Theatre.’ Remember when reading to the class, you will want to read your words fast and automatic.”

6. Show the students several poetry books from which to choose their poem.  Have them take a book to their desk and select a poem.  Once they have chosen a poem, they must show the poem to me to ensure it is consistent with their ability level range.  After their poem is approved, they may begin reading individually.  After ten to fifteen minutes, the children will chose a partner to practice reading their poem.  Have the students take turns timing each other while they read their poems.  They must write the time it took them to read for each practice read they perform with their partner. “I am going to give each pair a stopwatch.  Take turns being the reader and being the timer.  The timer will time how long the reader takes to read his or her poem and write it on their time sheet. Then, take turns.  I want you to do this at least five times for each person.  I would suggest reading your poem more than just five times; I just want you to write down the time for reading at least five times.” Walk around and monitor the pairs as they read to one another.

7. When the students are finished reading their poems and timing each other in partners, we will start Reading and Poetry Theatre.  Volunteers will read first, to help children get over the fear of being called on and to allow them to calm themselves of any last minute jitters.

8. When the students have presented their poem, they will receive a different poem to read repeatedly to help increase their reading speed.  After the children have practiced repeatedly and they are comfortable with the poem, I will have them read the poem to me individually for a timed assessment.  During the timed assessment, the students will fill out the I noticed my partner form to get them to see the affect re-reading has on fluency.

-I will assess the students’ time sheet and presentation using anecdotal notes I make during the presentation.  I will write suggestions for improvement as well as praise to the students in these notes.
-I will have each student come to the table and perform a one-minute read for me using the poem I gave them.  I will note miscues, but first and foremost I will assess how many words per minute they read.


-Bud the Sub.  Educational Insights.

-Samuels, S. Jay (1979). “The Method of Repeated Readings.” The Reading Teacher.    January. pp.403-408.

-Kari Beth Freeman (2005). A Day at the Reading Theatre

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