Saturday, March 20, 2010

Developing Fluent Readers

I just finished reading the article “Reading Fluency Assessment and Instruction: What, Why, and How?” written by Rosanne F. Hudson, Holly B. Lane, and Paige C. Pullen. I found this article to be VERY informational. Being elementary school teachers, our responsibility lies, not only with teaching students how to read, but also with teaching students how to become skilled readers, and skilled readers are fluent readers. During my junior year, when I was in TE 301, I spent a good deal of time connecting the dots between reading comprehension and reading fluency; however, I had never focused my attention solely on the different aspects of reading fluency and how theses aspects are directly correlated to a student’s level of comprehension. According to the reading, “fluent reading [is] comprise[d] of three key elements” (p. 1). At its foundation, these three elements are – accuracy, rate, and prosody. It’s important to realize that, as teachers, we need to assess our students' abilities to read fluently, in order to accurately and fairly instruct our class in an attempt to foster a deeper level of reading comprehension.

Automaticity is an important aspect of fluency to keep in mind. This refers to how quickly a student is capable of identifying words. Due to the limited capacity of a student’s working memory…when they are capable of identifying words at a faster rate, their cognitive abilities are free to focus on the context of what they are reading as opposed to focusing on word identification.

Another important aspect of reading fluency relates to a student’s ability to accurately decode words. Decoding refers to the process a student goes through when they are reading…it is composed of: seeing a word, recognizing the letter-sound relationship, and blending the phonemes together to create a word. This is a process that, in a fluent reader, should take a split second; however, for a struggling reader, the process of decoding can be extremely difficult. It is the teacher’s job to explicitly identify word-identification/decoding strategies for the class.

One aspect of this article that I found surprising relates to the section covering the importance of prosody. I have never really considered how important a student’s ability to read with expression is in correlation to their reading comprehension. BUT, it makes sense. I mean, if a student reads a question in their text like a statement, then they obviously do not comprehend what they are reading. If they did, then that statement they just read would be phrased like a question.

Not only did this article give in depth details and information regarding exactly WHAT fluency is, but, what I found most interesting, was the amount of information given in relation to HOW to teach fluency and HOW to ASSESS fluency. There are numerous tables and resources given that an instructor can reference and utilize in the future, which I most certainly will; specifically on the fifth and eighth pages of this article, two tables are given with listed assessment strategies and instructional resources. One thing I want to point out is how important it is to be EXPLICIT in your instruction of fluency with struggling readers…for some, fluency comes naturally, but for a majority of students, it does not. We are severely impeding their learning progress by not giving these students ample instruction, opportunities for practice and repetition, and adequate assessments that detail their progress.

I really enjoyed reading this article and it is definitely something that I see myself looking back on in the future.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked the fact that you mentioned the amount of information that was available for future teachers to use when assessing and teaching fluency. I thought the tables and resources were great that they gave, and I too can picture myself looking through some of these in the future as I am starting my own classroom. I think its a great tool, because like you mentioned, its easy to overlook fluency, especially how to teach fluency. These can be great bookmarks for us to refer to in the near future as we begin our journey of teaching!