Wednesday, January 7, 2015

When Kids Can't Read, What a Focus on Fluency Can Do

Belinda Zimmerman, Timothy Rasinski and Maria Melewski wrote When Kids Can't Read, What a Focus on Fluency Can Do: The Reading Clinic Experience at Kent State University which was published in Advanced Literacy Practices from Clinic to the Classroom Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation V2, 2013. They describe the work in their reading clinic with graduate students and struggling readers using the Fluency Development Lesson (FDL).

Their research has consistently supported the use of the FDL for improving comprehension, reading rate, and prosody for struggling readers. The FDL lesson includes the following components:
  1. Modeling- teacher reads a short text, may point out why certain prosodic elements were used (motivation, example of what it should look like and listening comprehension)
  2. Share text- everyone receives the text, the teacher reads it encouraging students to join in with the prosodic reading
  3. Choral Reading- everyone reads together with variations- robot voice, high voice, whisper, deep voice,...
  4. Discussion- discuss meaning (reading comprehension, vocabulary development)
  5. Paired Reading- pairs of trios of students read the passage one at a time with the listeners providing support and reinforcement
  6. Perform- present reading to class or other audience
  7. Word Work- interesting words from the passage are selected, defined if necessary and activities are engaged in- word sorts, alphabetization, write sentences with the words, word ladders, word searches, etc.

The FDL takes about 30-45 minutes to complete. It is not the entire ELA program but a component of it. Clearly more reading and writing work is needed to develop skills at the elementary classroom level. The text is chosen to be both engaging and at an appropriate reading level. At no point within the FDL is the reading timed, but the teacher is looking to create a conversational rate. Students are encouraged to uncover the meaning of the text. Timed readings are performed periodically to monitor progress since oral reading rate is a good estimate of comprehension and fluency.

One feature of this approach that makes it successful is that students are engaged in reading and writing tasks for nearly the entire time. This may actually be more reading than many struggling readers engage in for an entire school day. We know that to be a better reader or writer reading and writing need to occur. This program provides that practice.

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