Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

05.03.13Jessica Bracey: Control the Game and Fluency (video)

nsa_vms_campuspage1We just added this clip of North Star Academy’s Jessica Bracey to our collection… we filed it under Fluency and Control the Game (CTG) though we aren’t yet sure which technique we’ll use it for during our workshops.





In fact what we love about it is the synergy it shows between Fluency and CTG.  The fact that Jessica’s students are reading aloud so productively and attentively, with everyone reading along, lets her focus not just on expressive reading but on expressive reading that embeds comprehension.

One of my favorite moments comes about 40 seconds into the clip. Jessica pauses the student who’s reading aloud and advises:  “Angel sees her best friend talking to somebody she doesn’t like.  So you should be reading that like she’s really, really angry.  Try that again.”

Jessica then models how to do that—showing some spunk, to get all taxonomy about it—before allowing the student to read the passage in a similar manner and then , crucially, allowing him to apply the same expressive voice to a longer section of text.  He doesn’t just copy but applies—and does so pretty well.

Next, a short section of bridging to move the story along and model a bit more expressive reading before using the same formula—model, student correct, student apply to longer passage—with the next reader.

Some other things we really liked:

1)      Break in reading at 1:42 where students do one of several extended periods of writing in the lesson response to the text (the actual writing is lost in the cut … if you come to one of our workshops you’ll see the clip with the writing back in it).

2)      1:55 subtle modeling on “emphatically” which Jessica reads emphatically and which she corrects twice to make sure student gets it right.

3)      2:08 great expressive reading by the student in the back row, showing how accomplished students have become with practice and how much they like fluent oral reading.

4)      The universality of hands at 3:15. Basically every kid in Jessica’s class wants to read

5)      7 out of 8 readers pick up exactly on cue when called, suggesting that everyone is reading along actively.

Great job, Jessica.

What else do you see?

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3 Responses to “Jessica Bracey: Control the Game and Fluency (video)”

  1. Janice Smith
    May 14, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I love how she used cold call to skip quickly between a variety of students reading, spreading out the practice. I’d be curious to hear the strategy behind this- did she plan ahead which students she would call on at each part or was it truly random? Clearly this is part of their class on a regular basis as every student seemed ready to read and engagement was high (and while cold call was probably part of this, it seemed there were a lot of elements at play that all led to the investment/engagement).

    Also liked the way she modeled both the fluent/expressive reading alongside modeling her thought process while reading (3:05).

  2. Literacy teacher
    June 12, 2014 at 2:15 am

    I fail to understand how this method of cold call/round robin reading “embeds comprehension.” At what point are we seeing that the children actually understand what they are reading? When the teacher tells the student he should be reading with an expression to show that the character is angry, she is telling him what to think, not eliciting his understanding of the character’s motivation. I can understand this technique as a possible method for improving fluency, and it’s certainly a tool for class management, but there is a WIDE body of literacy research and best practice which refute any suggestion that this method of reading improves comprehension.

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