In a the manuscript accepted for publication in Reading and Writing Quarterly Spring 2008, Teaching Reading Fluency to Struggling Readers- Method, Materials and Evidence, Timothy Rasinski, Susan Homan and Marie Biggs review research that led to the focus on fluency during the 2000's and the meaning of fluency- accurate, appropriately paced, expressive reading. Then they highlight ways in which fluency instruction may be addressed with notation for the research supporting their use.
During any fluency instruction the teacher takes on many roles. He must model fluent reading. Even high school students enjoy being read to. In order to maximize the effectiveness of modeled reading, students must read along silently. Teachers must be coaches, providing corrective feedback as needed to improve skills. Students who are struggling readers can rarely assess what they or their peers are doing right or wrong. Teachers can provide for assisted reading. Reading with the student in a slightly faster but more fluent manner, encourages speed, provides accurate models and supports student vocabulary. Parents, other students and certainly volunteers can be trained to provide this scaffolding. Research suggests that computers and audiobooks can also fulfill this role. Teachers need to provide the materials to practice on. This cannot only be boring nonfiction passages or challenging Common Core texts. Texts that lend themselves to being read with expression such as poetry, songs, rhetoric and plays facilitate oral interpretation in a way that a passage on what is a marsupial does not. Finally teachers need to provide for performance opportunities and celebration of success.
Specific instructional routines that have evidence to support their ability to accelerate struggling readers' performance are provided. The authors caution against packaged programs that rely on repeated readings of nonfiction passages with the sole goal of increasing reading speed. While these programs do increase reading rate, they are usually not accompanied by and increase in comprehension. The Fluency Development Lesson, which is designed to be used with poetry or short, voice-laden passages incorporates word study. Fluency Oriented Reading Instruction similarly involves rereading but is designed to be used with basal readers or anthologies. Fast Start is a home program where parents are taught to read to and with their children in order to support fluency on a daily basis. Readers Theater provides an authentic reason for rereading- performing the play. The text is not meant to be memorized; props are minimized; costumes are unnecessary. The purpose is to practice reading until you can orally read the text with expression. Tune in to Reading software allows students to listen to music while reading the lyrics. Then the students record their singing of the song. This program was tested with middle school students who found it an enjoyable way to practice oral reading.
Recent research by the IRA has suggested that fluency is no longer hot. Perhaps reading teachers should reconsider this concept, especially as it relates to struggling readers.