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December 8, 2016

Video Selfies to Improve Fluency

By Genia Connell
Grades 1–2, 3–5

    For a short minute, I considered naming this post, How to Get Your Students Reading Fluently Without Really Trying. While that's not really a title that inspires teachers, it's pretty close to the truth of how I inadvertently (at first!) got my students to eagerly practice reading aloud for hours, simply to complete a 60-second video. Read on to discover a quick way to motivate your students to read, read, read, with a goal of improving fluency. 

    Three years ago, when students were first given iPads by our district to use at school and home, I was struggling to come up with purposeful and authentic ways for my students to use their devices at home. At the same time, we were focusing on fluency during guided reading. I decided one Friday afternoon, with little forethought or planning, to merge the iPad with the goal of improving their reading speed, intonation, and fluidity. In that moment, the video selfie was born. 

    Introducing the Assignment

    A video selfie is a what I call a 60-second video that my students take of themselves at home, while reading aloud. The very first time I introduce this assignment to my students each year, I gather them on the carpet for a class meeting. I do our normal read-aloud and afterwards, I ask students to share what they noticed about my reading. They mention that I read smoothly, I changed my voice for the punctuation and I made my voice sound like the characters were really talking to each other. Using that information and more that they share, we create an anchor chart about what fluency is and what it sounds like.

    Fluency chart

    Next, I tell students I want them to make a video selfie: a video that shows them reading fluently and expertly. With that announcement the kids are buzzing with excitement, because two things my third graders LOVE doing with their iPads are taking selfies and making videos. They also love reading, but that's secondary to many of them at this point!

    I tell my boys and girls the video is going to be short — no longer than 60 seconds. I also mention they will have the chance to share them in class. When I stop and ask what they think they should do before taking their video, I'm always happy to hear a resounding chorus of voices shouting, PRACTICE!

    Finally, I pass out the homework assignment sheet and we read it together with time for student to ask questions or clarify. 

    Click on the image above to customize and print your own homework sheet. 

    Practice is the Key to Improved Fluency

    As teachers, we know practice is the key to progress, be it in reading, math, or anything else. Actually getting kids to practice, however, can be the challenge. That's why the video selfie assignment turned out to be pure genius. 

    Over the weekend that this assignment was first given, several students emailed me "previews" of their videos. A few parents emailed me telling me their children had been practicing for hours. They were reading to younger siblings, to stuffed animals and to their iPad cameras. The bottom line was every single student practiced their fluency skills for a much greater length of time than they had ever done so previously. Victory! 

    [brightcove:5240144548001]

    Share and Reflect on the Videos

    Students wanted to share their selfies when they walked in the door on Monday morning. During reader's workshop, some student volunteers shared their videos on the interactive whiteboard. The rest shared with their learning teams. Students had time to share constructive feedback with members of their teams.

    In order to preserve the videos, students uploaded them to SeeSaw. Once uploaded, each student wrote a reflection that covered the following areas:

    • Why did you choose the passage you read?

    • How did you prepare for your video?

    • What were you (specifically) practicing doing while you were reading?

    • What do you think you did really well?

    • What would you do differently next time?

    • How do you think you have improved in your reading? 

    Once the videos are uploaded, students can go in and comment or "like" their classmates' posts.

    Class feed on SeeSaw

     

    Monitor Progress

    Students are assigned a video selfie three times during the year. With each new video, students reflect on their progress and set goals going forward. These videos become part of each student's digital portfolio and they can also be used as artifacts to support student growth for my own evaluation. 

    The video selfie proved to be a very easy way to get students to practice reading at home. It's one of those things that wasn't initially in my plans, but seemed like a good idea in the moment — and it was. What great ideas have you "stumbled" upon in your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

    For a short minute, I considered naming this post, How to Get Your Students Reading Fluently Without Really Trying. While that's not really a title that inspires teachers, it's pretty close to the truth of how I inadvertently (at first!) got my students to eagerly practice reading aloud for hours, simply to complete a 60-second video. Read on to discover a quick way to motivate your students to read, read, read, with a goal of improving fluency. 

    Three years ago, when students were first given iPads by our district to use at school and home, I was struggling to come up with purposeful and authentic ways for my students to use their devices at home. At the same time, we were focusing on fluency during guided reading. I decided one Friday afternoon, with little forethought or planning, to merge the iPad with the goal of improving their reading speed, intonation, and fluidity. In that moment, the video selfie was born. 

    Introducing the Assignment

    A video selfie is a what I call a 60-second video that my students take of themselves at home, while reading aloud. The very first time I introduce this assignment to my students each year, I gather them on the carpet for a class meeting. I do our normal read-aloud and afterwards, I ask students to share what they noticed about my reading. They mention that I read smoothly, I changed my voice for the punctuation and I made my voice sound like the characters were really talking to each other. Using that information and more that they share, we create an anchor chart about what fluency is and what it sounds like.

    Fluency chart

    Next, I tell students I want them to make a video selfie: a video that shows them reading fluently and expertly. With that announcement the kids are buzzing with excitement, because two things my third graders LOVE doing with their iPads are taking selfies and making videos. They also love reading, but that's secondary to many of them at this point!

    I tell my boys and girls the video is going to be short — no longer than 60 seconds. I also mention they will have the chance to share them in class. When I stop and ask what they think they should do before taking their video, I'm always happy to hear a resounding chorus of voices shouting, PRACTICE!

    Finally, I pass out the homework assignment sheet and we read it together with time for student to ask questions or clarify. 

    Click on the image above to customize and print your own homework sheet. 

    Practice is the Key to Improved Fluency

    As teachers, we know practice is the key to progress, be it in reading, math, or anything else. Actually getting kids to practice, however, can be the challenge. That's why the video selfie assignment turned out to be pure genius. 

    Over the weekend that this assignment was first given, several students emailed me "previews" of their videos. A few parents emailed me telling me their children had been practicing for hours. They were reading to younger siblings, to stuffed animals and to their iPad cameras. The bottom line was every single student practiced their fluency skills for a much greater length of time than they had ever done so previously. Victory! 

    [brightcove:5240144548001]

    Share and Reflect on the Videos

    Students wanted to share their selfies when they walked in the door on Monday morning. During reader's workshop, some student volunteers shared their videos on the interactive whiteboard. The rest shared with their learning teams. Students had time to share constructive feedback with members of their teams.

    In order to preserve the videos, students uploaded them to SeeSaw. Once uploaded, each student wrote a reflection that covered the following areas:

    • Why did you choose the passage you read?

    • How did you prepare for your video?

    • What were you (specifically) practicing doing while you were reading?

    • What do you think you did really well?

    • What would you do differently next time?

    • How do you think you have improved in your reading? 

    Once the videos are uploaded, students can go in and comment or "like" their classmates' posts.

    Class feed on SeeSaw

     

    Monitor Progress

    Students are assigned a video selfie three times during the year. With each new video, students reflect on their progress and set goals going forward. These videos become part of each student's digital portfolio and they can also be used as artifacts to support student growth for my own evaluation. 

    The video selfie proved to be a very easy way to get students to practice reading at home. It's one of those things that wasn't initially in my plans, but seemed like a good idea in the moment — and it was. What great ideas have you "stumbled" upon in your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comment section below!

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