Reading Resources

Fluency (CLICK on fluency FOR LESSONS)

What is Fluency?

(Parts taken from: Guided Reading By: Tricia Burke Ch.4 Fluency)
Slow, choppy reading makes comprehension difficult. To design effective lessons, we first must understand what fluency means. The term actually encompasses three major components:
  1. Rate - the speed of reading
  2. Accuracy - reading text correctly
  3. Prosody - expression and phrasing
Our brains are designed to process information in chunks. Try having someone talk to you, pausing after each word. It's almost impossible to keep up with what is being said. Students who read very slowly almost always have comprehension problems. Recommendations for how many words per minute a student should be able to read at each grade level can be found in many reading texts and at reading Web sites. You can use these guidelines to do a quick assessment of your students' reading rates.
The inability to decode accurately is an obvious stumbling block to fluent reading, as well as to comprehension, and should be addressed through decoding strategies and word-study lessons. Students need frequent opportunities to practice fluency with text they can read successfully. Repeated readings of familiar text will help students to become more fluent. If decoding is an issue, reduce the student's text level to one he can read with 94 percent accuracy or higher.
Fluent readers make a story come to life with phrasing and expression, or prosody. Without the first two components of fluency, this third component is impossible. A student reading with expression and meaningful phrasing is more likely to comprehend the material, and that, of course, is the goal.

When do students need instruction in Fluency?

  • Choppy or word-by-word reading
  • Struggling over many words (especially basic Dolch sight words)
  • Reading in a monotone voice with no intonation or expression
  • Reading too quickly and not pausing for punctuation

Below is Michele Farah's Power Point from workshop Fall 2011 On Fluency:

Word Work (Click on word work for lessons)

Decoding (click for lessons on decoding and vocabulary)

What is decoding?

While introducing decoding strategies to students is important, it's only the beginning.The next and most important step is to hold them accountable for using them. It's so tempting to jump in and help when we hear a student stumbling over a word. Step back—bite your tongue if you have to! Students need to realize the job is theirs and these are opportunities to use the tools you've given them. They have to be able to realize when a word doesn't make sense, and then they need to do something about it.They need to decide which strategy to use and when to use it. Once we jump in and tell them what strategy to use, or tell them the word, they become dependent on us to do the work for them.
Basic Decoding Strategies (lessons for teaching these are on the link above)
1. Look at the pictures for clues.
Illustrations offer information about the story, especially for our youngest readers. Don't cover the pictures. It's a skilled reader who checks the picture for help decoding a tricky word. A picture that shows two cars occupying one space on the road will help a student decode the word "crashed." Always encourage your students to check the pictures.
2. Start the tricky word.
When a student comes to a word she doesn't know, she should at least start the word with the beginning sound or sounds. This serves two purposes. First, by simply starting the word with the beginning sound or sounds, the correct word may pop into her head. The second benefit of this strategy is that it keeps a student focused on the word. How many times have you seen a student look away from the book as if he were thinking when he comes to a word he doesn't know? This strategy reminds them to stay in the book!
3. Think about what would make sense.
It is almost impossible to use any strategy without simultaneously using this ' one. We read to understand. Anything we read needs to make sense to us, and if it doesn't, there's something wrong. Thinking about what would make sense should always be first and foremost in a reader's mind. When your student tries to decode a tricky word, she should always ask herself if her guess makes sense in the text. Likewise, if she misreads a word, she should immediately know the word doesn't make sense, and she should stop and do something about it.
4. Skip the word and return to fix it.
Sometimes reading past the tricky word to the end of the sentence gives students more clues to help them figure it out. We tell students to start the word, read to the end of the sentence, and then come back to fix the tricky word. When they run into a tricky word, they're starting the word with the beginning sound because we have already taught them to use that strategy. When they read on and then return to fix it, they are thinking about what word would make sense within the text. Most students are successful with this combination strategy.
5. Look for chunks you already know within larger words.
Instead of seeing words as discrete letters, good readers see words in parts. Word parts, word families, or "chunks" children know can help them decode many words. The /at/ in cat can help them read the words "fat," "chat," and even "attitude." By training students to look for familiar chunks in unfamiliar words, we are giving them an important tool for decoding efficiently.
6. Switch the vowel sound.
Sometimes a student may have tried the other decoding strategies but is still unable to figure out the word. Switching the vowel sound has been effective with many of our students. While vowels can make many different sounds, they do have two main sounds—long and short. Encouraging students to try switching the vowel sound will help. For example, if your student is reading the word "bread" as "breed," he can switch the vowel sound from long to short to read "bread."

Questioning (Click for lessons on Questioning)

Why Teach Quesioning?

Our brains are natural questioning machines. Questions lead to understanding in all stituations in our lives. Questioning is automatic and necessary to understand the world around us. Questioning when we read is very important to understanding what we read. Pay attention to the questions you brain automatically asks and notice how those questions help you stay engaged with the text and understand it. The questions readers have before, during and after reading set a purpose for reading, keep their minds involved in the story, and activate interest to engage them in the text. It is important for our students to learn to listen to the questions their minds ask when they read and leran how to respond to these quetions.

Predictions (Click for lessons on Predicting)


Visualizing (Click for lessons on Visualizing)


Expository/Non-Fiction Reading Lessons