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Recipes for Effective Literacy Instruction

Oral Fluency


Reading builds fluency.  So does speaking.  Here are some ways to strengthen your students’ oral fluency: 

The Book Talk Project requires students to read a nonfiction book, describe it briefly, then answer the audience’s questions about it.  This project includes an overview of the assignment, the audience’s questions, a scoring checklist, and a list of recommended nonfiction books.  This assignment has worked very well with HS students and can be modified for MS students or for a different genre of reading. 

Building Robust Vocabulary provides a sample mini-unit of how to teach vocabulary using lessons from Bringing Words to Life, by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan (New York: The Guilford Press, 2002).  It offers strategies to introduce the words, Do Nows, a game, homework, and a quiz.  Many thanks to Jessica Majerus at Greater Newark Charter School for sharing these helpful models! 

Oral Fluency in Early Grades provides tips for how you can improve your students' oral fluency without spending any money.

Oral Fluency Rubrics spare you from having to reinvent the wheel if you are looking for ways to grade oral presentations such as speeches, skits, or debates. 

Socratic Seminars train students in how to conduct intelligent conversations—how to use effective habits of discussion and how to explain their ideas, supporting them with evidence.  Different educators have different ways of conducting Socratic Seminars.  In this approach, four students sit in the middle of the room, circled by the rest of the class.  Everyone in the class has read the same text or undergone the same experience (e.g., field trip or science lab); these four are responsible for discussing a given set of questions about it.  At the same time, four others in the outside circle are selected to observe the discussants and give feedback on their performance.  Everyone else in the class takes guided notes on the discussion. The teacher uses a detailed rubric to score each of the discussants.  All of the needed materials (except, of course, for the texts of your choosing) are provided here.

Speeches offers some helpful Websites for analyzing and delivering speeches.

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