Have you ever had the opportunity to listen as the orchestra plays a smooth melody? Well, I am a Hamilton County teacher and reading specialist who has a passion to prepare students so they can become confident readers just like a well prepared and skilled orchestra so they can make music to the ears of a listener. I have the opportunity each year to teach students to read, to catch students before they fall behind, and to prepare them for the life journey to build literacy strategies and skills. As the school year begins, I am presented with some students who labor to decode words fluently as they begin to read their grade level text. Beginning readers read text word-by-word without expression as they attempt to progress towards incorporating phrasing and expression. Imagine the conductor starting the tempo with the violin section as several violinists begin on the wrong beat and later find they have lost the tempo due to their lack of fluency as they read the notes. The persevering violinist attempting to read the notes becomes more frustrated as the music within his heart is blocked as his fingers continue to miss the chords during the performance. Beginning readers relate to the frustration of reading text outside their reading level just as this struggling violinist during this performance. Equipping readers with needed decoding skills so the struggle will be lessened is my vision for each student who walks through my classroom door. Each day is a gift I unwrap daily as I provide continuous, fast-paced, engaging, scaffolding instruction for students with the ultimate goal of equipping active, independent learners who can initiate problem-solving strategies and be persistent in the reading process so they can join the orchestra of skilled readers. Unwrapping each day, I am filled with intrinsic rewards as I observe struggling readers becoming fluent readers who have ease in word recognition, phrasing, pausing, stress, intonation and accuracy. The music dances in my class as I am serenaded with fluent readers. The fluent readers glow with confidence as they hear themselves choral read with their peers. By the end of the year, I celebrate the achievement of each student as their skill level rises and they are confident to learn another song!
Teacher and Reading Specialist
Hamilton County Schools