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Improving Fluency Instruction
Once students develop basic word-identification skills, the next
bottleneck that they must break through is fluency. Multiple
studies of young children and children with reading difficulties have
suggested that most emergent and struggling readers (especially at the
younger grades) have language comprehension skills that exceed what
their decoding skills will allow them to read. That is to
say, these children can easily understand the concepts, vocabulary, and
information contained in text -- yet they are still unable to read that
When these children are relieved of the burden of decoding text (by
having the text read out loud to them by a skilled reader), their
comprehension of the material is considerably enhanced. Put
in terms of the simple view of reading, their ability to read and
comprehend text is primarily limited by their lack of fluency in
decoding the text.
Many highly effective strategies have been developed for teaching
fluency. In fact a review of the research literature lead
Dowhower (1994) to conclude that the research on the positive effects
of repeated reading was so strong that repeated reading should be
"woven into the very fabric of daily literacy instruction."
Unfortunately, in most classrooms, fluency instruction is scant and
weak. The following books offer guidance for effective
-- To learn more about a particular book, or to
a copy of that book, just click on the image of the book cover --
Partnering for Fluency
Mary Kay Moskal and Camille Blachowicz
Published in 2006 by Guilford Press
When I first picked up this book, I did not think I would like it much
-- it starts out a little slow for the first few chapters.
But once I got past a few somewhat awkward chapters, I
discovered that this book offers a wealth of great, concrete
instructional strategies for building fluency. There are also
very handy resources -- forms, data-management tools, etc. -- that can
be copied and used in the class. I loved the Classroom Fluency
Snapshot (CFS) and the forms for monitoring reading fluency.
Of course, this book contains a variety of practical, "real-world"
approaches to building fluency instruction into the classroom, most of
which are some variant of the powerful
repeated-oral-reading-with-feedback strategy that has shown to be so
effective in so many studies for building automatic word-recognition
skills. But this book also focuses a great deal on the other part
of fluency -- reading with expression. Moskal and Blachowicz
provide examples of students who focus too much on speed and accuracy,
and offer advice to teachers on ways to help students build proper
prosody, meter, and expression as well.
The final chapter was a pleasant surprise to me -- one I can't recall
seeing in a professional book before. It is a chapter offering
advice and guidance for the professional development facilitator
working with teachers to improve fluency instruction.
Understanding fluency instruction is one thing, but teaching
other teachers how to incorporate fluency instruction into their daily
routine is something else. I for one appreciated this final
chapter -- it recognizes that learning for teachers, as with students,
is often a collaborative endeavor.
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Last Updated 9-24-04