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Home : 2003 : Nov : 11

    By Farrah

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    I teach Reading Recovery and work one on one with the lowest students in my school for 30 minutes everyday. I have been through extensive training and learned researched-based approached ways to teach those 'hardest to teach.' I cannot tell you how to teach fluency, but I have used this technique successfully when teaching phrasing (which relates to fluency).
    Using a familiar text, such as a trade book or your reading book, write one sentence on an sentence strip. Make sure you put a lot of space between your words. Then you model how you want the child to sound when he reads.
    For example, if the text is ' "I can jump," said the grasshopper.' Write that on a sentence strip and cut the strip between the words 'jump' and 'said.' Then model the phrasing like you would read it:
    "I can jump" Read phrased (smooth and connected with inflections in your voice), but you will naturally stop here because that is the way we speak. There is a very brief pause between phrases when good readers read.
    "said the grasshopper." This group is said together naturally when we speak.

    You are modeling the natural technique of phrasing that good readers already do. You want to accentuate the pauses between the phrases to get your point across, because these choppy readers don't realize to put in the inflections and pauses when reading. After you model this technique, have the child practice one line at a time.
    Praise them when they read phrased "I like the way you read that part! It sounds just like they were really talking!" or "Your reading sounds so smooth!" or "I like the way you made that sound!"

    As to 'teaching' fluency: I guess you could have them read the same passage over and over and over again until they read it faster and faster, but that really doesn't teach fluency. It makes them think that the faster you read, the better reader you are and we know that isn't true. Reading then becomes a task of calling out words at a neck-breaking pace, and they don't necessarily comprehend what they're reading. I believe that phrased, accurate, meaningful reading leads to fluency--not that fluency leads to phrased, accurate, meaningful reading.

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