The number one question that primary educators face from parents is how to make their child a better reader. They usually are speaking of the child’s fluency. The National Reading Panel (NRP) defines fluency as the ability to read with accuracy, speed, and proper expression (2000). This is such a simple definition for fluency, which indeed is totally accurate, but does not do it enough justice.
Research has shown that reading fluency has a direct correlation with reading comprehension and reading achievement (T Rasinski, 2004). Researchers know that in most cases, comprehension problems stem from weak reading fluency. The rate a student reads has been much more focused on presently than in the past. Previously, educators were interested with students’ ability to decode words accurately. Now, the focus is on decoding accurately and quickly.
A quick look at the Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) website shows there are many ways to increase fluency (http://fcrr.org/). There is repeated reading, buddy read, choral read, drop read, and echo read among others. All are research-based and proven to increase fluency over time, but what strategies should you use for your students?
The NRP speaks of studies that show phonemic awareness and letter knowledge are the top two predictors for how well a child will learn to read (2000). They also state that it is most effective to teach phonemic awareness in small groups because of the social motivation and observational learning opportunities. According to Bosman, de Graaff, Hasselman, and Verhoeven (2009), systematic phonics instruction is more effective than a nonsystematic approach.
Fry’s Instant Sight Words
Not all words can be deciphered using phonics skills though. Because of this, flashcards using Fry’s instant sight word list would be beneficial. Fry’s sight words are the most commonly used words in the english language.
Repeated readings are generally used as a surefire way to increase fluency skills. It is well-documented that over time, fluency and comprehension will improve with enough repeated readings. Samuels work on repeated readings proved this (1979). However, he also found that afterwards, the student could move on to a piece that was equally as difficult and they would perform better on this as well.
The repeated readings can be done a couple different ways for the students. One way is to read short one-minute passages, set a goal for words read correctly, and have students read it until they reach this goal. Another is to choose proper reading level books for the students and have them read it several times before moving on to a different one. Both of these ways require guidance from an educator or a coach to model and correct any errors.
Read More Often
Lastly, if students are struggling with reading fluency, increased reading time is a research-based proven strategy that will improve this. It makes perfect sense. Practice makes perfect. Anything that we struggle with, child or adult, we will get better at it by doing it more often. Parents are not always on board with this strategy since if their child is a struggling reader, the child usually does not like to read. However, sometimes you have to be a parent and make your children do things that they do not want to do. There is no magic spell that will turn children into excellent readers. But if the child is helped through these research-based strategies and interventions, they will see their reading achievement grow immensely.
Armstrong, N., Campos, J., & Johnson, B. (2001). Increasing Student Reading Fluency Through the Use of Leveled Books. Retrieved from the Eric database.
Duke, N.K., Pressley, M., & Hilden, K. (2004). Difficulties in Reading Comprehension.
de Graaff, S., Bosman, A., Hasselman, F., & Verhoeven, L. (2009). Benefits of Systematic Phonics Instruction. Scientific Studies of Reading, 13(4), 318-333. Retrieved from ERIC database.
Kuhn, M.R., & Stahl, S. (2003). Fluency: A Review of Developmental and Remedial Strategies. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 1-19.
National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read. Report of the Subgroups. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health.
Rasinski, T., Homan, S., & Biggs, M. (2009). Teaching Reading Fluency to Struggling Readers: Method, Materials, and Evidence.
Reading and Writing Quarterly, 25192-204. Http://search.ebscohost.com.libweb.ben.edu Samuels, S. (1979)
The Method of Repeated Readings. Reading Teacher, Retrieved from ERIC database.