Pleasant Valley Elementary School – SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

School Name: Pleasant Valley Elementary School

School District: SD#68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith

Inquiry Team Members: Diane McGonigle:, Kim Davie:, Christine Angelucci:, Tara Althouse:, Jennifer Robinson:, Jennifer MacGregor:

Inquiry Team Contact Email:

Type of Inquiry: NOIIE

Grade Levels: Intermediate (4-7)

Curricular Area(s): Language Arts – Reading

Focus Addressed: Growth mindset

In one sentence, what was your focus for the year? On fluency at the intermediate level to increase students’ reading comprehension.

Scanning: On the October professional development day, staff examined our beginning of the school year AFL data from the results of our school district’s literacy screeners (Gr. 1-3 and Grade 4-7), along with benchmark data from other student and teacher assessments. Across all of the levels, we noted that reading comprehension was weak. We decided to set a school goal for the year, of expanding reading comprehension across all levels. In addition, we began the conversation about the different components of reading instruction, as well as what makes a strong reader. In discussing reading comprehension, we started talking about fluency, and the link between the two. We wondered what our students knew and understood about fluency.

Focus: Our focus is to expand reading comprehension levels of all of our students. All staff are going to use the Criteria for English Language Arts K-9 and have a renewed focus on using Adrienne Gear’s “Reading Power Language – connection, questioning , visualizing, inferring and transforming”. Some intermediate classes, along with the Student Support Teachers, are interested in focusing specifically on building fluency and the relationship of reading fluency to comprehension. We hope that our learners will learn the value of reading fluently and the link to comprehension.

Hunch: Intermediate staff may not be focusing on developing fluency when supporting students’ development of reading comprehension. There is more of a focus on the other components of comprehension – linking to background knowledge, building vocabulary, ensuring students are actively reading, and developing critical thinking skills. While we talk about students being fluent readers, we don’t focus instruction on what fluency is, how fluency impacts comprehension, and how to become a more fluent reader.

New Professional Learning: The staff involved explored resources related to fluency. We used some of our PLC times for discussion and sharing of knowledge, as well as what we were actually trying with the students. We also connected with staff at another school who had a similar focus.

Resources explored:
– Learning more about the link between fluency and reading comprehension and other sources
– Learning about and using the Dibels assessments to gather data for targeting interventions
– The Six-Minute Solution: A Reading Fluency Program (Primary Level) by Gail Adams and Sheron Brown
– The MegaBook of Fluency by Timothy V. Rasinski & Melissa Cheesman Smith

Taking Action:
Grade 4/5 Class
• In January the class did the grade level Dibels assessment. The assessment allowed the teacher to look at students’ reading in a different way. Using the Dibels assessment, some students were stronger readers than what she thought, while others weren’t as fluent.
• After the assessment, the class engaged in doing the six minute solution in the morning. Results on the assessment enabled the teacher to choose appropriate reading selections for students to practice each week. Students practiced the same passage for the week and tracked their progress on a graph. Students practiced with a partner. Talking about fluency with the class allowed us to talk about appropriate rate of reading aloud, as well as the other components of fluent reading like expression, phrasing, smoothness, etc. Their initial understanding was that reading fast was reading fluently. At the end of February, students were still working on understanding and incorporating these different components into their reading.

Grade 6/7 Class:

• The class talked about what fluency was. A lot of the students didn’t really know what it meant. The teacher taught about the different parts of what makes an affluent reader and how we can all work on this as a class.
• We had lessons where we read aloud to partners and checked the list at the end to see if we were making any changes in our reading after knowing what fluency is.
• We also had a lesson about expression — how it is used and how if we changed it, what would happen to the meaning of the sentence?

SSS Grade 2/3 pull-out group-reading (3X/wk)
• Students in this group were reading one year below grade level
• The SST assessed each student individually each week using the “Six-Minute Solution reading assessment” and tracked progress of the CWPM (correct words per minute) on a Fluency Record Sheet.
• The teacher taught students to work in partners and track each others WPM. The teacher found this very time consuming and that it took up too much of their short class time. Students started reading too fast and they may not have been accurate. The teacher then started to ask students to read to her individually and she began doing the tracking. It was quicker with a small group and more effective and efficient; however, the teacher believes it may be too difficult to manage with a class of students on your own. The age of the students may also be a factor.
• Lesson Plans centered around the resource ‘The MegaBook of Fluency.’ Activities were as follows:
– Retelling using a variety of wordless picture books
– Developing Fluency through Song
– Teaching Expressive Fluency (Emphasizing Words, Phrasing Nonsense)

• Gr 4/5 class – The timeline was too short to see the full effects of the differences this focus was making. Students’ initial understanding was that reading fast was reading fluently. At the end of February students were still working on understanding and incorporating the different components of fluent reading like expression, phrasing, smoothness etc.

• Gr. 6/7 class – The focus was making a difference as the students were becoming aware of what fluency was, and how that meaning is a powerful tool in learning or improving a new skill. Because she teaches older students, awareness and education was a huge piece in trying to help increase their own fluency.

• SSS group – All students who participated increased their CWPM. It is unknown if each students’ comprehension level increased along with the fluency level. Each student was not benchmarked again to determine level of understanding. It would be important to re-assess using the PM Benchmark. The students really enjoyed all the activities presented from the resource. They were all new and exciting. They had not read the wordless books before.

• Often, as educators, we take for granted that words teachers commonly use are understood, like fluency. Taking it back to the basics and discussing the definition was influential in older students’ learning.
• Had the Grade 4/5 teacher been able to continue, a goal would have been to continue to build on students’ understandings of fluency so that they could provide constructive feedback to their reading partners.
• Grade 2/3 might be too young to teach partners to track each others WPM. A teacher would need to find another way to do this.
• We wished that we had more time with this inquiry as we only really focused from January to mid-March.
• Our assessment results showed that some students were fluent readers but still had difficulty with comprehension, so their focus would be on other aspects of reading. Conversely, some students were not fluent readers and it did not seem to be affecting their comprehension. Being a strong reader is multi-faceted and our job as educators is to teach all the necessary skills of being a strong reader to the students, and then determine where they need additional practice and support.

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