Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students

Unit 21

Learning more about fluency and it's effects on comprehension

There are four pieces of writing about fluency that you need to read in order for you to make more accurate assessments about how to help a student read more fluently.

Jo's two students, Emmy Lee and Jordan, benefited with some individual instruction to improve their reading fluency and you may remember that in the conferences of Nazlia Edwards and Kayla (Movelle PS, Year 1) and Airley Pahl and Mia (Monmia PS, Year 1), both Kayla and Mia were working on their fluency, or reading more smoothly. Michaela (Warringa Park School) was working on her expression, which is one part of fluency.

As fluency affects comprehension it is an important part of the reading curriculum to know about in detail so that you can help students of any age who may need specific assistance with fluency. You need to know exactly which aspect of fluency the student needs help with and what to do to assist with that specific aspect.

Go to the documents:

Study these articles and make some notes that will support you when you have to assess or teach for fluency in a reading conference. You may wish to use the Collecting Data sheets during a reading conference after you have used the strategy to improve fluency.

You might also consider when you could teach aspects of fluency in a whole class session or in small groups. Students need to know what it looks like and sounds like and they need to be aware of the terminology related to fluency. Remember the importance of frequently reading aloud to your students, modelling fluent reading, and how it is essential during Shared Reading to read fluently.

The following websites will also help you to learn more about the teaching and learning about fluency:

  • Pacific Resources for Education. This website has a free download of two excellent booklets, A Focus on Fluency and A Focus on Vocabulary. Simply scroll down the resources on the page to locate them. Although these were written for teachers of younger students the information about fluency applies to all year levels.
  • Reading Rockets. In this website written for both teachers and parents, the focus is to try to pinpoint the area(s) reading a student is having problems with and to help overcome those problems. Guidelines are provided for tackling fluency problems. You can also go to the prior step in the website and find out about how to help with other aspects of reading.
  • ReadWriteThink by the International Reading Association
  • Spelling K-8 Planning and Teaching, Curriculum Press and Snowball and Bolton Language Conventions P-10: Planning and Teaching Western Metropolitan Region).

Similarly students need to instantly recognise high frequency words and the same two sources can assist with information about this.

If the problems with fluency are just related with phrasing and expression then being involved in tasks such as Readers Theatre can assist students with this.

Websites such as: ReadWriteThink provide explanations of readers theatre and scripts for the students to use. There are many other websites with Readers Theatre scripts. Select some for younger students to use but encourage students to find these scripts online and for groups to select some they would like to perform.

An outstanding website for professional learning is Learner Org. Open the section on Literature and Language Arts, scroll down to select 'Teaching Reading 3-5 Workshop' and 'enter the series website' to find 8 courses on the teaching of reading. One of these, 'Fluency and Word Study' is something you should work through to find out more about the importance of Independent Reading and fluency. You may also be interested in the other 7 sessions about the teaching of reading and browse this website to see what else you may be interested in pursuing.

Go to Film Clips:

Warringa Park School: Catriona Toland Read-aloud, Warringa Park School: Catriona Toland and Sam

and Warringa Park School: Diane Snowball Interview with Catriona Toland

to see how the teacher works with the students in a Special School, helping them to learn high frequency words and other vocabulary to support their fluency when reading. When viewing these films consider how the work in the Read-aloud with an enlarged text links with the work students are independently doing and listen to the ideas Catriona shares about her class and individual teaching she does using the iPad as a tool to support the work. Consider how you could use those ideas in your teaching.

Review your curriculum documents to ensure that you have included all aspects of fluency and review your planning and conference evaluations to ensure that you are including the teaching and assessment of fluency as part of your regular practices.

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Effective Literacy Teaching and Learning for all Students