Fluency Instruction Research-Based Best Practices
Edited by Timothy Rasinski, Camille Blachowicz and Kristin Lems (2006)
A few years ago this book changed the way I approached literacy intervention in such a remarkable way that I thought I would share it with you all. Many of the students I work with have been reading from a young age, some as young as two, whereas for many of my other students the ability to blend and decode words is such an overwhelming challenge that to get through a sentence takes time. However for both of these groups comprehension proves a significant challenge. Often when focusing on comprehension as a therapist we focus on vocabulary, visualisation and identifying facts within the story. For early readers we focus heavily on phonological awareness and their ability to blend and segment sounds. However we often forget about reading fluency and the significant impact that plays on an individual’s ability to comprehend, even with our early readers.
‘Fluency Instruction’ was written for teachers to provide an overview for teaching methods and the impact different approaches have on reading comprehension. So I thought I would provide some interesting points and facts I found in this book and how I utilise these approaches within therapy.
- Reading researches show that reading fluency was a necessary precondition for good comprehension
- The National Reading Panel (2000) concluded that reading fluency was an important component of the reading process and that it was essential that it be taught to developing readers
- A fluent reader is someone who has the ability to decode and comprehend text at the same time
- Indicators of fluency refer to accuracyof word recognition, speed of reading and ability to read orally with expression
- Fluency requires practice
- While there is a very strong correlational support for independent reading contributing to fluency, there is no convincing experimental research to show that increasing independent reading will increase fluency or reading achievement
- Fluency needs to be developed across all text types
- Round Robin Reading (when one student reads orally one after the other) is not an effective strategy and also can damage learner’s comprehension of text
Approach to fluency in therapy
- Fluency is important for both silent and oral reading; however research shows that reading practice is most effective in oral practice.
- Students who are fluent with a text can usually read it with only about one mistake per 100 words– this is what I aim for in therapy
- Young students (up to year 2) aim to read at 60-80 words per minute
- Older students should be reading at 100+ words per minute
- Attention to punctuation is also important as it significantly impacts on comprehension of a passage, for example “let’s eat Mum” in comparison to “let’s eat, Mum”
Choose 1 page of the students reader level to practice fluency.
- The student reads the page and I record the time (however the goal is not to read fast but accurately, this is where we spend time decoding difficult words)
- I then discuss the child’s reading with them, pointing out positives in their reading, for example “great sounding out” “good use of expression” “great using different voices for characters” providing specific feedback allows the student to know what they have done correctly
- I then reread the same page modelling appropriate fluency – expression, rate, pausing for punctuation andvolume
- The student then reads the same passage silently as this helps encourage silent reading
- Finally the student once again reads the passage aloud, after reading we compare and talk about improvements the student made from the first reading to the third reading.
I have found implementing this strategy, which only takes 10 minutes to complete as part of daily practice can significantly improve a student’s fluency and in turn comprehension. It is another tool in the therapist’s teacher’s and parent’s toolbox.