Improving Literacy with Fluency Tutor

Fluency Tutor logo.Hi everybody! So, I’ve recently been using a fantastic reading app called Fluency Tutor. The app is meant to take the place of traditional timed fluency tests and running records, both of which are extremely time consuming. The app has several tools/functions that make it a breeze to use. First, it is completely Google compatible. You can import classes from Google Classroom and create Google Classroom assignments from within the Fluency Tutor app. You can also assign to individual students or the whole class, all from with the app. It is also very easy to update your class if you’ve had new students join your Google Classroom.

Fluency Tutor also comes with Fluency Passages that are leveled. You can search passages by lexile level or AR level. This is just my personal opinion, but I’ve found the passages to be of high quality. Many are non-fiction and contain interesting topics like the process in which diamonds are created or how your tongue works. I also really like that some of the early-reader passages don’t look like early-reader passages. But the thing that I really like about this app is the digital tools it contains for students and teachers. Students can record and listen to themselves or even save their recording directly to their Google Drive. They can also have the text read to them and there’s even the option to have it read back in a different language! I’m not sure if every language works for every passage but I’ve seen a HUGE list of languages to select. Students can also click any word in the text and get a definition or a picture definition.

The teacher can create a vocabulary list for all of the words a students has clicked. The list features definitions and is created in a Google Doc. Once passages have been graded, students can see their scores  on a graph- there is a words correct per minute score and a ‘fluency score’ which grades them on phrasing, expression, etc.

For teachers the tools make grading a breeze! Once a student has finished their recording you can listen to it (or any past recordings) while looking at a copy of the text. If you click on any word in the text you can mark it as an error. You can also select the type of error, omission, insertion, substitution, etc. Also, when you click a word to select an error, the recording pauses. After you select the error-type the recording resumes. Awesome! You then mark the last word read in the text and fluency tutor calculates the words correct per minute for you. Once you’ve graded all the recordings for a particular passage you can download a spreadsheet (Google Sheets) with all the scores.

My very favorite tool allows the creation of fluency passages. This can be accomplished by the teacher or the student! Once the Chrome extension is installed a page can be turned into a fluency passage with the click of a button. Now, this doesn’t work with every page and will not work with pdf’s but when it works it is amazing. The resulting page typically looks very clean and pictures that were on the page are often embedded within the passage without errors. For older students, this is really fun and puts them in control of what they are reading. I really love this app because of how easy and useful it is. If you’ve ever hated trying to find time to do 20+ fluency tests then I would highly suggest this app. It does cost 99$ a year, but for me it was totally worth and this will be a tool that stays in my toolbox.

Spring Break Curriculum Training

Well, what can I say. I began the week thinking “why did I sign up up for these trainings?” Yes, I was excited but also exhausted from this last stretch of teaching.  After it was all said and done I am so thankful these trainings were offered. I can’t imagine myself showing up the week before the kiddos come back and saying to myself, “Yes, I got this. I can teach two brand new curriculums and use the online portions of these programs.” If you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly encourage you to do so.  

The trainings were fun and in depth on how and what we will be teaching.  In both trainings we learned how to use all of the materials, plan our day to day, how it aligns with the standards, differentiated teaching strategies and materials, center ideas galore and how to bring these kids to grade level and beyond.

Benchmark is our Brand new Language arts curriculum.  At first glance it can be a little frightening. There’s a ton of material and it’s really overwhelming looking at all of it. But after a two day training I’m eager to start using the materials and planning for next year.  Benchmark uses repeated exposure to skills and strategies, along with multiple opportunities to practice all standards. It has an equal balance of Whole Group (Model/Access Grade Level Complexity) and Small Group (Differentiated Practice/Application) Literacy Instruction. All units are aligned across the grade levels giving the school a central theme for learning. Benchmark includes Shared readings, Mentor Read Alouds, Decodable Readers, an online component for teachers and students, grammar and spelling, vocabulary, phonics, reading and writing, Big Books with complex texts, text close reads, center activities, and reader’s theater.  Every day students are exposed to at least three different text. You name it, this program probably has it. It’s a complete curriculum that spirals throughout the year so that if a student doesn’t fully understand a concept it will be visited several times throughout the year. And the best part of Benchmark for k-2 teachers: there is no more ripping out and stapling the decodable readers. They are printed, stapled, and sorted for the teachers. Also, weekly and unit assessments can be completed on paper but can also be taken online with immediate results for the teacher to collect that much needed data. Benchmark’s online portion is amazing!

The official growth assessments for the Language Arts test will be taken over by iReady. iReady is our new online assessment program for both Math and Language Arts giving us the traditional Map scores. It will be the online component that will do the data tracking portion very similar to map while also giving differentiated lessons to the students for the math program. This will be taking over ST Math. It will create a year long program specific to the student which will fill missing gaps and bring them up to grade level and beyond. If a student is more than a grade level or two behind it will either give them a one year path to proficiency or a stretch path that is a multi year plan to to bring students to proficiency. For an awesome website check out i-Ready Central. It’s basically the Pinterest of i-Ready; it’s free and filled with a ton of information.

Our new Math Curriculum is Ready Classroom. Not to be confused with i-Ready.  Ready classroom is a comprehensive curriculum that includes all daily lessons, enrichment activities, centers, tools and videos for instruction. As well as the prerequisite for instruction.  All materials can be found really easily using the online portal. This curriculum is not designed to be just a pen and paper curriculum, it is designed for exploration and discussion. Students will learn to do math through whole group and small group discussion. They will learn how to problem solve in multiple ways.  A lot of what we will be doing is discussion. The print outs will primarily be used as checking for understanding and independent work. As far as lesson planning, this is a teacher heavy lesson planning curriculum. This is not a curriculum that can be pulled out and used as a script. These need to be planned out and planned so that the students can receive the full benefit of this program.  

So if you have not signed up for the trainings I strongly recommend you do so. Yes, you get paid and no, it is not mandatory.  But if you want to have a strong understand for this curriculum you should get on Go sign me up and sign up for one of these awesome trainings.