After some searching (and getting through that first illness of the school year) I have worked up a plan to help my students with some true prosody work.
First, I wanted to find a variety of reading passages at my students grade level. I used places like readworks as well as resources from DePaul University. I felt as if these offered a wide selection of passages at various grade levels. They also have both fiction and nonfiction selections.
I chose one I thought my students would enjoy to work with as a whole group to intruduce our year long journey with prosody. We talked about important things to do as readers. Those things included observing punctuation as well variation in tone of voice. (I remember hearing, and I don’t remember where, that punctuation saves lives. I often use the following example: Let’s eat, Grandma! Let’s eat Grandma! It gets the point across and we get to laugh a little as well.) We also talked about how observing the mood and tone of a piece also will have an impact on how we read it.
I let them explore and read the piece I selected and asked them to highlight any words or phrases they may not know as well as anything that confused them. We talked about how it is difficult to convey meaning if you don’t even know what you are saying. Using passages slightly above their level gives them an opportunity to explore words and phrases that may be foreign to them. I am not predetermining what they should know, but am helping them to be proactive in determining meaning when it is needed.
Through this exploration of text, it is also helping to put emphasis on many of the different parts of reading. Students begin to see the complexity of the reading process and how many different parts of reading work together to gain meaning. My hope is now to help them move that into their silent reading which will be a much bigger step. However, I am trying to help them see the task of fluency as a means to comprhension, not just saying (or reading) the words.
Finally, their last task was to take a small section of the reading and read it fluently with expression. It was still a little rocky, but we have taken the first step. This all took one full 53 minute period to introduce the main portion of it. I then used 10 minutes at the beginning of 3 different periods so they could get used to the time frame I would have set going forward.
Now, moving forward, students will select their own passages and begin some independent work. I am looking forward to seeing how this changes them as readers. I am hoping for the better, but that remains to be seen! I think it is a risk worth taking.