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Lesson Plan

Improving Fluency through Group Literary Performance

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Improving Fluency through Group Literary Performance

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Devon Hamner

Devon Hamner

Grand Island, Nebraska

Publisher

National Council of Teachers of English

 

Student Objectives

Session One: Introducing Bill Martin, Jr.

Session Two: Shared Reading with Bill Martin, Jr.

Session Three: Writing Model Books with Bill Martin, Jr.

Session Four: Choral Reading with Bill Martin, Jr.

Session Five: Readers Theater with Bill Martin, Jr.

Extensions

Student Assessment/Reflections

 

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • identify characteristics of books written by Bill Martin, Jr., including repetition, rhyme, and rhythm.

  • participate in shared reading, choral reading, and readers theater.

  • participate in opportunities to improve reading fluency through repeated readings and performances of the texts.

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Session One: Introducing Bill Martin, Jr.

  1. Introduce Bill Martin, Jr. to the students, using the books you’ve collected and the Websites you’ve chosen.

  2. Invite students to browse through your collection of Martin’s books. Students may already be familiar with some of his books—encourage them to tell about their favorites and share why they like the books.

  3. Begin a chart to record the characteristics of Martin’s work, which will include student observations about the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme of the texts. Some student responses might be:

    • “You can clap his words. His words sing. His books make you dance.”

    • “He uses lots of rhyming words. B, C, and tree rhyme! So do D, E, G! And P, T, V, Z! What about F and out of breath?”

    • “His sentences sound the same. It’s easy to learn because it’s kind of the same. I can read it after I heard it only twice. I hear a pattern.”
  4. After the students have shared their observations, as a group, label and categorize the responses:

    • “You can clap his words. His words sing. His books make you dance.” (rhythm)

    • “He uses lots of rhyming words. B, C, and tree rhyme! So do D, E, G! And P, T, V, Z! What about F and out of breath?” (rhyme)

    • “His sentences sound the same. It’s easy to learn because it’s kind of the same. I can read it after I heard it only twice. I hear a pattern.” (repetition in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?)
  5. Alternatively, if students’ skills allow, head a paper with three columns labeled with the words Rhythm, Rhyme, and Repetition and have the students fill in the information on their own.

  6. Ask students to explore the books for details on other people who have worked with Martin. Depending upon the books that you have available for students to investigate, they will find that Martin wrote books with John Archambault and Michael Sampson. Illustrators of his books include Lois Ehlert and Eric Carle.

  7. Read about Bill Martin Jr.'s favorite things in the "Giving Order to Chaos" section of his interview with Reading Rockets.

  8. As a class, brainstorm a list of favorite things, or invite students to create their own personal lists of favorite things.

  9. Compare students’ favorite things with those listed on the Website.

  10. In pairs, groups, or as a whole class activity, visually represent the comparison using the Venn Diagram tool.

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Session Two: Shared Reading with Bill Martin, Jr.

  1. Choose one of Bill Martin, Jr.’s books to read aloud to the students. While you can use any of Martin’s books, these books work especially well:

    • Chicka Chicka 1·2·3 is a great book to share as you get closer to your 100th Day of School.

    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom can be paired with related CD, audiotape, or video to help students practice their shared reading. The CD includes additional alphabet games that students can play.

    • Here Are My Hands makes a nice shared reading focus for an “All About Me” unit or a kindergarten lesson on parts of the body. As students share in the reading of the book, they point to the parts of their own bodies.
  2. Read the book aloud to the class, modeling fluent and expressive reading.

  3. Reread the book several times, inviting students to join you as you read.

  4. Focus on the characteristics of the text:

    • Help students identify the pattern of the book.

    • Identify rhyming words.

    • Clap along with the rhythm of the book or march to the rhythm.

    • Identify repeating phrases.
  5. While reading, point to the words, helping students focus on the print as well as using the clues from the pictures to decode words.

  6. Practice the book for several days, reading at the same rate of speed and using the same phrasing so that words can be easily heard and understood by an audience.

  7. Invite an audience to the classroom to listen to your students read/perform the story. This audience might include parents or grandparents, another class, the principal, nurse, secretary, librarian, and other school staff.

  8. Update your class chart by recording student observations about the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme of the books.

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Session Three: Writing Model Books with Bill Martin, Jr.

  1. Choose one of Martin’s books as a model for your own, original class book. While you can use any of Martin’s books, these books work especially well:

    • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? can be used as a follow-up to a class unit on animals, plants, or insects. Students can choose specific items from their unit (e.g., ants, bees, hornets) as the focus for the pages of their book.

    • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? is an excellent model for a focus on sounds. If you've recently completed a unit on animals, for instance, your model books might focus on animal sounds. Your book might focus on animals from your local area and the special sounds that they make. If possible, make a tape recording of the real animals that can be used in your listening center to inspire the book.

    • Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? focuses on powerful word choice (participles) to describe how animals move. The book would make a great model for books focusing on how animals, humans, or machines move. Your book might focus on endangered animals that live in your area or ones that your class has explored recently.

    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom provides several options:

      • Focus your book on the students in the class—Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! Look Who’s in Our Classroom! Ask students to paint a coconut tree on a 9 by 12" sheet of paper. If desired, use body/finger painting. Paint the arm brown and stamp it on the paper for the trunk then paint the hand green and point the fingers downward to stamp the leaves of the coconut tree. Allow the pages to dry overnight. On the following day, have students cut out the letters in their names from magazines. Students glue the letters going up the coconut tree on their pages. A picture of each student can be cut into the shape of a coconut and glued on the tree.

      • Create number books based on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, with various numbers of coconuts in each tree. The class book can comprise a counting book, with pages counting from one to twenty (one page for each student in your class). Alternatively, you might focus on counting by twos.

      • After learning the letters from the book, students can also create their own alphabet books, using the Alphabet Organizer.
  2. Read the book aloud to the class, modeling fluent and expressive reading.

  3. Use the book for shared reading until students are very familiar with the text.

  4. Choose a focus for your book (e.g., insects).

  5. Ask students to brainstorm a list to use as they write. For a book about insects, for example, the list might include ants, bees, and butterflies.

  6. Using chart paper, create the first page of the book—choose one of the items from the brainstormed list, and draw its picture on the page.

  7. Underneath the picture, write the first question for your book. For instance, your first question might be “Butterfly, Butterfly, what do you see?”

  8. Post another sheet of chart paper, for the second page of the book.

  9. On this new sheet, write the response to the question at the top of the page, the related picture in the center, and the next question at the bottom. For instance, if the butterfly saw a honey bee, the second page would be composed of these parts:

    • Top: The sentence “I see a honey bee looking at me.”

    • Middle: Draw a picture of a honey bee.

    • Bottom: The question “Honey Bee, Honey Bee, what do you see?”
  10. Continue working through the brainstormed list, creating pages for each item.

  11. Once you've created a page for each animal, end the last page with the sentence “That’s who I see” or the appropriate alternative. For instance, if your book focuses on animal sounds, the last line of the book would be “That’s what I hear.”

  12. Assemble the entire book, and read through it as a group.

  13. Allow opportunities for students to share their book with an audience.

  14. Update your class chart by recording student observations about the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme in the model books.

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Session Four: Choral Reading with Bill Martin, Jr.

  1. Choose another one of Bill Martin, Jr.’s books for choral reading. While you can use any of Martin’s books, these books work especially well:

    • Chicka Chicka 1·2·3 works best with three groups of students, as shown on the Chicka Chicka 1·2·3 Choral Reading Chart.

    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom can be read by two groups, which take turns reading the text then jointly read the chorus. For instance, the first group would read the first page of the text. The second group would read the second page. Both groups read the chorus together (“Chicka chicka boom boom! Will there be enough room?”)
  2. Read the book aloud to the class, modeling fluent and expressive reading.

  3. Use the book for shared reading until students are very familiar with the text.

  4. Divide the students into groups to read assigned parts, with whole group reading of the chorus or repeated phrases.

  5. Allow ample practice time.

  6. Remind the students how important it is to read with the same phrasing and at the same rate of speed, so the words can be understood by the audience. It is helpful to video or audiotape the practice sessions, so students can hear themselves and identify places where they need to work on phrasing or speed or enunciation to improve clarity.

  7. Allow opportunities for students to share their choral readings with an audience.

  8. Update your class chart by recording student observations about the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme of the books.

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Session Five: Readers Theater with Bill Martin, Jr.

  1. Choose one of Bill Martin Jr.’s books for stronger readers. While you can use any of Martin’s books, these books work especially well:

    • Barn Dance! makes a great focus for performance because of the focus on dancing in the book. Invite students to perform their own square dance as part of the performance.

    • The Ghost-Eye Tree is a wonderfully spooky story about a dark, fall night. The main characters include a boy and his sister, with a supporting role for Mr. Cowlander, the milkman. The remaining text can be divided among several students. Be sure to choose a good, spooky screamer for the part of the ghost-eye tree (an owl).

    • Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? uses strong words to describe the sounds that the animals make. In your performance, ask students to act out the animals and their unique sounds.

    • Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? uses participles to describe how animals move. In your performance, ask students to act out the animals and the way they move.
  2. Read the book aloud to the class, modeling fluent and expressive reading.

  3. Divide the class into groups of 4–6 students for Readers Theater groups.

  4. Assign parts of the texts to each group.

  5. Highlight the part of each student in their copy of the text.

  6. Provide lots of practice time for groups to practice their scripts.

  7. Invite them to practice at home using their parents as their audience.

  8. Encourage students to read fluently and expressively with good phrasing so that the rhythm and rhyme of the text is maintained by each of the readers.

  9. Help students define and pronounce any difficult words found in the text.

  10. Encourage students to understand the characters’ feelings and emotions—and help them portray those feelings in their oral reading of the text.

  11. Arrange for the performance of the book:
    Readers Theater may be performed by students sitting on stools or standing. During the performance, students read their scripts, but are not required to act out the story or wear costumes. Instead, the story comes alive through their expressive reading of the words. Students may want to tape their practice sessions to self-assess their progress and identify areas to work on. They may also choose to video tape themselves.
  12. Invite parents to come to your performance. You may also do repeat performances for other classes.

  13. Update your class chart by recording student observations about the repetition, rhythm, and rhyme of the books.

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EXTENSIONS

  • Learn more about Michael Sampson and John Archambault and their relationship with Bill Martin Jr. Research other author-illustrator pair who work together for long amounts of time. Information is available at the Bill Martin Jr/Michael Sampson Official Homepage, as well as in the Reading Rockets Interview with Bill Martin Jr.

  • Since Martin’s books fit well in an early literacy program, continue the work of letter sounds using some of the ReadWriteThink student interactives: Picture Match, Alphabet Organizer, and Construct-a-Word.

  • Obtain the square dance music and learn the steps to a dance well enough to teach the students while reading Barn Dance! You may want to invite a square dance caller to visit your class and teach the dance to the students. You can also visit the Swing Your Partner! lesson plan to learn more about the ties between Barn Dance! and square dancing.

  • Create a model book based on your class using the Teacher, Teacher handout. Take digital pictures of each student or use their school pictures. Begin the book with a picture of your school. On the first page, use your name for the question. For instance, “Mrs. Hamner, Mrs. Hamner, who do you see?” Follow on the next pages with each of your students’ names and pictures. At the top of each page, write, “I see _____________ looking at me.” Then glue in each child’s picture in the center of the page with the following pattern sentence below the picture: “_____________, _____________, who do you see?” On the last page, have a class picture in front of your school with the concluding sentence “I see the great kids at _____________ School! That’s who I see!”

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

As the students are reading and participating in reading activities, look for the following indications of fluency:

  • Reading accurately

  • Reading at an appropriate pace

  • Reading expressively

  • Reading with good phrasing

  • Reading with good comprehension

Since the students will also be performing, provide them with Questions for Reflection and Self-evaluation so they are able to assess their own performance and participation. Questions are included for shared reading, choral reading, and readers theater.

After the activities are complete, conduct a class discussion:

  • Encourage students to share what they learned from their performances.

  • Ask students to discuss how the performance affected their reading—Did it make them better readers? How?

  • Ask students if they think their practicing and performing the story helped them understand the story better—Could they tell someone the story in their own words? Did they learn any new vocabulary words?

  • Encourage students to share what they learned about Bill Martin Jr. and his books.

  • Review, discuss, and complete the chart of the characteristics of his books and post in the room.

  • Ask students whether they would recommend his books to a friend and to explain their responses.

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