Teacher Resource

February/March Teacher Resource 

Eye Spy! Fluency and Confidence Builders for Growing Readers

By Christina DeCarbo

As a literacy coach, I often get asked for ideas that will help make independent reading time (at school or at home) engaging for primary students. The first and most important way to ensure that our students are engaged during independent practice time lies in the texts we place in their book baggies. As reading teachers, our students need to practice reading words that have the sounds and phonics patterns we have explicitly and systematically taught them. When our students have access to texts they have been taught how to read, reading becomes engaging, lively, and fun! Word cards, sentences, and decodable books that allow students to practice what they are learning help growing readers build both fluency and confidence.

Students love having special book baggies they can fill with books, texts, and tools that they can use to practice their growing reading skills. I love using Seat Sack’s Read-n-Go Book Bags in the classroom because of their durability and the see-through front panel. Students and families are able to find books and reading tools effortlessly, and the built-in handle makes it easy to store in a cubby or on a hook. In addition to the decodable books and word lists  my students keep in their baggies to practice, there are four main reading tools I love to include within their baggies.

1.  DIY Reading Pointer – It’s so important for our students to keep their eyes on the text while they are practicing their reading skills with their families or independently. Simply glue or tape a googly eye to a craft stick, and you have an instant reading pointer that makes tracking text and keeping your eyes on the words FUN and engaging!

Miss DeCarbo Eye Can Read, Reading Fluency Game

2.  Finger Flashlight – Finger flashlights are special tools that we love to use on Flashlight Fridays! During Flashlight Friday, we turn off our classroom lights for a short amount of time and read our books with the finger flashlights we keep in our book baggies. Students love using the flashlights to reread texts for fluency or to zoom in on graphemes they are working on as they practice decoding skills.

3. Reading Pets – These little 3D animal erasers came from Amazon, and they like to live in our book baggies so that we always have friends to read to! Students love taking their little reading pets out of their book baggies and placing them beside them while they read. Young students will love practicing their oral reading skills as they whisper read to their adorable reading pets!

MissDeCarbo, Reading Pets, Reading Fluency

 4.  Dry-Erase Boards and Markers – By placing plain white pieces of cardstock in sheet protectors, students have instant whiteboards they can tote to and from school or use during independent practice time within the classroom. When a student gets stuck on a word, he or she likes to write the word on the whiteboard and “mark it up”. For instance, a student who gets stuck on the word “dresses” may underline the base word “dress” and circle the “es” suffix. Visually separating the base word from the suffix can help a student sound out and decode the word. You can also have students draw pictures about what they read after they practice the books.

When our students have opportunities to practice the skills they have learned with their teachers, reading practice becomes a valuable and special time both at school and at home. By adding these fun reading tools to students’ individual book baggies, it’s also a time for increased engagement and lots of FUN! I hope you enjoyed these reading tips for your classroom and students. Thank you for everything you do each day to help your students become the best readers and writers they can be!

Happy reading,

Miss DeCarbo

Christina DeCarbo 

Christina (Miss DeCarbo) is a PreK-5 literacy coach and reading teacher for her school district in Northeast, Ohio. She is trained in dyslexia and structured literacy through the Orton Gillingham Academy and LETRS. Christina is the curriculum author of best-selling literacy intervention materials on TeachersPayTeachers and on her website www.missdecarbo.com. She provides research-based professional development and consulting work for teachers and administrators across the country, and loves collaborating with educators on Instagram @missdecarbo. As a mom to two little ones at home, she enjoys spending time with family and drinking ALL the coffee!