I have had such a great experience with my Megillas Esther reading program this year that it merited an immediate blog post.
This year, I have been spending daily class time having the students read aloud using the DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) model explained here where they read to a friend and the friend checks them for errors and times them to improve their hebrew reading fluency. The class average is around 50 words a minute which is quite good. I have used the read for speed worksheets on the parsha and made my own for tefillos so that students develop sight words that they will use when davening and learning as they read to each other for 1 minute daily. We use Clock Buddies (sample Clock Buddies Worksheet) to make sure that there is a rotation of partners.
This year, I also taught rashi script in a fun and engaging way as described here . Homework involved copying over Rashi script into neat Hebrew script. I check letter formation to make sure that the 3rd graders aren’t forming letters improperly (HUGE PET PEEVE) and that the students know the confusing letters in an unknown context.
So basically, my students have been reading a lot of hebrew and practicing a lot of Rashi script.
This time of the year we combine it all. On Monday, I sent home the megillah in Rashi script. The students have two weeks to read the megillah to their parents with no mistakes. The best part of this is that so many parents know the megillah by heart that the parents are actually letting the kids read to them for as long as they want. Students are reading 1, 2 or 3 perakim a night. Plus, they plan to bring their megillah to shul and follow along as the baal korei reads. What could be better???
The parents have been blown away by how well the students can read and that they are not afraid of Rashi. They also love that the kids can do their reading homework without the parent being tied next to them to follow along. The kids are loving that they have their parents undivided attention for extended periods of time and that their parents know everything because they can correct them without looking inside. Plus, they love reading in Rashi script because it is new and different.
If you are trying to improve students’ reading in Rashi, I would definitely build up to this kind of program.