Fluency From Building Fluency: Lessons and Strategies for Reading Success By Wiley Blevins
A Definition • Fluency is the ability to read smoothly, easily, and readily with freedom from word recognition problems • A lack of fluency is characterized by a slow, halting pace; frequent mistakes; poor phrasing; and inadequate intonation.
Fluent reading is a major goal of reading instruction because decoding print accurately and effortlessly enables students to read for meaning.
A fluent reader can: • Read at a rapid rate (pace—the speed at which oral or silent reading occurs) • Automatically recognize words (smoothness/accuracy—efficient decoding skills) • Phrase correctly (prosody—the ability to read a text orally using appropriate pitch, stress, and phrasing)
Automaticity Refers to knowing how to do something so well you don’t have to think about it. For reading, refers to the ability to accurately and quickly recognize many words as whole units. Advantage—recognizing a word as a whole unit is that words have meaning.
Exposure To recognize a word automatically: • The average child • 4-14 exposures • Struggling reader • 40 or more exposures Students need a great deal of practice reading stories at their independent reading level to develop automaticity.
Why do children fail to read fluently? • Lack of exposure • The good-reader syndrome • Lack of practice time • Frustration • Missing the “why” of reading
Ways to teach fluency 1. Model fluent reading
2. Provide direct instruction and feedback Teach sight words and phonics Practice reading prior to reading a text scan a text, preteach vocabulary Time students’ reading Include oral recitation lessons Teach “smooshing” words together Explain return-sweep eye movement
Teach about the eye-voice span eyes are 1 to 3 words ahead of oral reading Find alternatives to round-robin reading Teach phrasing and intonation
Activity Recite the alphabet/numbers as a conversation. ABCD? EFG! HI? JKL. MN? OPQ. RST! UVWX. YZ! 123. 4! 567? 89. 10!
Recite the same sentence using different punctuation. Dogs bark? Cows moo. Dogs bark! Cows moo? Dogs bark. Cows moo!
Practice placing the stress on different words in the same sentence. I am tired. We are happy. I am tired. We are happy. I am tired. We are happy.
3. Provide reader support • Reading aloud simultaneously with a partner or small group • Echo reading • Reader’s theater • Choral reading • Paired repeated readings • Books on tape
Activity • Book • You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman • ISBN 0-316-01316-1 (Also, fairy tales and mother goose rhymes)
4. Use repeated readings of one text. • Child reads at his instructional level • Teacher times the reading • Feedback is given on word recognition errors and the number of words per minute
6. Provide easy reading materials. • Enormous amounts of individualized reading material • At least 30 minutes per day • Must be independent or instructional level