Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Improving Reading Fluency: Part 1

This week and next, I’m re-posting my 2 blogs on reading fluency, with a few modifications. The originals were posted last June. Since I have new readers, I decided to run it again.

What is Reading Fluency?
Fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly and with confidence. It’s the ability to read phrases and sentences smoothly and quickly, and most importantly, with comprehension.

Why is reading fluency important?
As children become fluent readers, they begin to think less about the words and more about the meaning of the sentences they're reading. Fluent readers can respond to the material with emotion and thought. Without fluency, reading is a chore because so much effort goes into decoding (sounding out) each word. With that much effort, there’s little energy left for making meaning.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve fluency. Here are some suggestions. The important thing is to choose activities that your child wants to do or at least doesn’t mind (or fight) doing.

Model Fluent Reading
When you read aloud, read with as much expression as the story permits. No need to be over the top – unless that’s fun for you and your child. In my mind, goofy is good!

Repeated Readings
Many children enjoy reading, and hearing, the same story/book/poem over and over. This is a good thing – repeated readings and hearings builds in comfort and familiarity. Such familiarity reduces the need for decoding and allows better flow, and therefore, confidence.

Echo reading
Echo reading is when one reader reads a piece of text and a second reader echoes that same piece. This works really well with poems but other text can be used as well. I suggest you switch roles frequently so your child gets to be the first reader and you are the echoer.

Choral reading
Try reading together! Choose a piece of text and read it simultaneously together. Maybe even read it together for someone else.

See the post, 9 Books for Summer Drama Fun for resources for drama.

  • everyone has a copy of the complete script
  • highlight each player’s part (yellow highlighting is best because the other colors tend to obscure the text)
  • read the script aloud before choosing parts
  • ham it up!

I love games. I love games that are fun and yet teach, without being too obvious. I relied on games a lot in my classroom to reinforce what I was teaching. Consider the following games for improving instant word recognition.
Bananagrams – Using letter tiles, players race against each other to build crossword grids and use all their letter tiles first.
Perquackey Game – This game consists of 12 cubes (dice with letters on all 6 sides), a timer, and simple rules. You roll the cubes and make up as many words as you can until your hourglass timer runs out. It can be modified for different ability levels.
Boggle - A small container holds 16 cubes, each cube marked with a different letter on each of its six sides. Shake the container and the cubes land within little pockets. Find as many words (of three-or-more letters) as you can in three minutes. Points are tallied by word length.
Scrabble Upwords – A 3-D word game – build new words by stacking letters on top of those already on the board. Create complex layers of crosswords to earn more points.

Resources used while writing this post:

Coming up next Wednesday: Improving Reading Fluency Part 2

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