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Fostering Fluency in a Comprehensive Literacy Program. Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl Georgia Reading First Conference Athens, GA June 19-20, 2007.

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Fostering Fluency in a Comprehensive Literacy Program

Katherine A. Dougherty Stahl

Georgia Reading First Conference

Athens, GA

June 19-20, 2007

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Stahl. K. A. D. (in press). Using FORI and Wide Reading to create opportunities for comprehension instruction. In M. Kuhn (Ed.), Creating a literacy curriculum: Fluency instruction. NY: Guilford.

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A Balanced Reading Program

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What is your definition of fluency?

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How does fluency fit into a comprehensive literacy program?

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Guided Reading Groups

“Guided reading is a context in which a teacher supports each reader’s development of effective strategies for processing novel texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty.”

Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 2

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Instructional level groups are the context for developmental word study.

  • High frequency vocabulary mastery

  • Increasing sophistication in word recognition processes

    • Phonic analysis

    • Analogies

    • Syllabic analysis

    • Morphemic analysis

      **Does your school have a consistent, cohesive way of measuring and teaching HFV, phonics,spelling, vocabulary? Do you adhere to a developmental word study model?

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Gradient Texts

  • The use of text that decreases in predictability as children increase their knowledge of the alphabetic system is a successful way of meeting decoding challenges.

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Advantages of Gradient Texts

  • Provide opportunities for students to read meaningful text while learning more about the alphabetic system

  • Gradual increase in difficulty enables reading fluency to be maintained

  • Allows for novice readers to orchestrate decoding and reading for meaning

  • Student accountability

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Disadvantages of Gradient Text

  • Lack of complexity

  • Moderate adherence to story grammar

  • Lack the fodder for comprehension strategy instruction, extensions in research and critical literacy

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Shared Reading Text: Turn Up The Volume

  • Heavy text provides the opportunity for comprehension strategy instruction, high level discussion, vocabulary development, and research projects.

  • Heavy text has relevant, compelling themes or conceptual depth.

  • Grade level texts expose struggling readers to more words than little books.

  • Use the ZPD as a guide.

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What are “Heavy Texts?”

  • Grade level texts that address themes and curriculum topics

  • Relatively long, 450-650 words

  • Trade books, basal literature anthologies, award-winning books

  • Shared reading makes these books accessible to struggling readers.

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More on Heavy Texts

Heavy texts have well-developed plots with universal themes or new content area concepts and rich vocabulary.

Award-winning trade books, like the ones that are Caldecott or Coretta Scott King Award winners, are often must-read heavy texts.

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1. Family, Friends, Neighbors (narrative fiction)

2. Nature (informational text)

3. Native Americans (fiction/informational text)

4. New York : Our Nation as a Melting Pot of Traditions (fiction/informational texts/procedural texts)

5. Folktales (fiction)

Visualizing, Predicting

Ideational Prominence, Enumerative Text Structure

Prior Knowledge, Evaluation


Narrative Structure, Summarizing

Classroom Content

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Family Narratives

Life Long Ago-Our Changing Earth (sci) (fiction/informational)

I-Questioning; P-Integrate strategies during buddy reading of student-chosen biography

Integrate strategies independently-Book Club share time

Independent Strategy Use-Project

Classroom Content-Semester 2

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Fluency-oriented reading approaches can make difficult text accessible to most readers.

  • Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction

    (Stahl & Heubach, 2005)

  • Wide Reading (Kuhn, in press)

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Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction (Stahl & Heubach, 2005)

For use during Shared Reading of grade level or challenging texts

Shared Reading: Community Experience

Grade Level Text: complex themes/issues, sophisticated vocabulary

Does not replace Guided Reading of instructional level text in small groups

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Principles of Fluency-Oriented Reading Instruction

  • All lessons are comprehension-oriented.

  • Children read material at their grade level (with varying levels of teacher scaffolding).

  • Students read the text repeatedly to increase fluency.

  • Children are taught a variety of ways to read text (partner reading; echo reading; choral reading).

  • Teachers maximize the amount of time that children spend reading connected text at home and at school.

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Planning the FORI lesson

  • Big ideas

    Comprehension issues

  • Meaning Vocabulary

  • Word recognition

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Daily FORI Schedule

  • Day 1-Prereading activities, teacher read-aloud of the text

  • Day 2-Echo reading, home reading

  • Day 3-Choral reading, partner reading

  • Day 4-Partner reading, home reading

  • Day 5-Extension

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  • Before reading-essential vocabulary, activate prior knowledge, macrocomprehension (story maps, webs), relevant strategy instruction

  • Teacher read-aloud

  • Macrocomprehension

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Tuesday-Echo reading

  • Read a section of text, students echo

  • Point-of-contact vocabulary

  • Questioning, microlevel comprehension

  • Word recognition support

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Home Reading

  • Potential to significantly increase daily student reading time

  • Difficult to document

  • Use simple logs.

  • Without the stated expectation, there is little chance of its occurrence. Accountability increases the odds.

  • Provide in-school opportunities to bridge the gap.

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Partner Reading

Wednesday: Choral readingand partner reading

Thursday: Partner reading, possibly elaborated vocabulary or comprehension strategy practice

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Partner Reading

  • More eyes on text time

  • Self-selected partners or more skilled reader paired with less skilled reader using a ranking system

  • Provided guidelines- not rigid, numerous rules

  • Loose supervision

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The Biggie:No Round Robin Reading

Unrehearsed sight reading, with turn-taking

(Rasinski, 2006)

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The Biggie:No Round Robin Reading

  • No popcorn reading

  • No popsicle stick reading

  • No catch the ball reading

  • No guerrilla reading

    (That means in content area texts, too!)

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Partner Reading Plus

  • Partner reading plus questioning or summarizing

  • Elaborated vocabulary instruction

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Vocabulary Development

  • Choose high-utility, “Tier Two” words for development.

  • Tier Two words are used by mature language users, words not limited to a specific domain(Tier 3) nor basic oral vocabulary (Tier 1). (Beck & McKeown)

  • Children already have the concept, but not the word for Tier Two words.

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Examples of Tier Two Words

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Vocabulary Development Routine (Beck & McKeown)

  • Describe word use in the story.

  • Explain the word’s meaning and give a few examples of general use.

  • Elicit examples of word use from the students.

  • Follow-up with a Word Wizard chart.

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Friday: Extensions

  • After Reading Menu

    • Cognitive Strategy Instruction

    • Varied Written Responses

    • Discussion Groups

    • Research Projects

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Inquiry Projects

  • Research and inquiry projects promote engagement, reinforce vocabulary, and encourage deeper levels of conceptual development.

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Weekly Rate Increases(Kuhn and Scwanenflugel, 2006)

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Prereading, teacher read-aloud

Choral reading

Partner reading

Partner reading


Prereading, teacher read-aloud

Echo read

Partner read

Partner read


Original FORI with Differentiation

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Wide Reading FORI

Day 1- Teacher read-aloud, comprehension focus

Day 2- Echo read, partner read (if time)

Day 3- Extension

Day 4- Echo Read Text 2

Day 5- Echo Read Text 3

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Early Research Results

  • Teachers were able to do the program all year long.

  • Children made an average of 1.8 years gain in each single year.

  • All children who were reading at the primer level or higher at the beginning of the year were reading at the second grade level or higher at the end of the year.

  • Children were able to benefit from material at their frustration level (around 85% accuracy), if given adequate support.

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Results of the large scale study:FORI, WR, Control

  • Less student turn-taking, almost double student reading

  • More and higher levels of teacher questioning

  • Less decoding instruction

  • More time spent addressing vocabulary

  • WR-more informational text

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Results of the large scale study:FORI, WR, Control

  • Compared to each other, FORI and Wide Reading were equally effective

  • Measures: Sight Word Reading (TOWRE), GORT Text Reading (time/acc), and WIAT comprehension questions

  • Both interventions worked equally well in low SES and middle SES schools

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Fluency and Comprehension(Schwanenflugel, Meisinger, Wisenbaker, Kuhn, Strauss, & Morris, 2006)

  • Fluency accounts for considerable variance in early reading comprehension. However, this role diminishes as children get older.

  • Particularly as children get older, comprehension variance often is not attributed to fluency.

  • ELL cautions

  • Fluency instruction is a bridge, not the destination.

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Key Ideas For Fluency Development

  • Volume

  • Volume

  • Volume

  • Attention to meaning, but not in a compensatory way

  • Ongoing developmental word study

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Closing Thoughts

“Fluent reading is when a reader’s recognition of words in context is so transparent that readers are able to move from the text to comprehension without conscious attention to words.”

Stahl & Hiebert, 2005, p. 164

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