by Wendy C. Ward, M.A.T.
Did you know that a child in the third grade should be able to read 114 words per
minute? This is reading fluency. Reading fluency is the ability to read text aloud
quickly, smoothly, naturally, and automatically. The ultimate goal of fluency is
to read silently and concentrate on comprehension rather than decoding individual
words. If readers labor to decode each word, they lose the ability to comprehend
or enjoy what they are reading.
Current research shows that when a child reads the same passage over and over, the
number of word recognition errors decrease, reading speed increases, and oral reading
expression improves. Consequently, reading comprehension improves. Research also
indicates that a student's fluency highly correlates with his/her scores on standardized
reading comprehension tests.
These four steps promote reading fluency in the classroom:
- Motivation: It is essential to motivate students to
want to read. To accomplish this, teachers must provide frequent opportunities for
students to listen to stories and read to others. Reading material that sparks students'
individual interest is more likely to encourage them to want to read. Including
different genres of reading material in the classroom reading experience is fundamental
to building students' interest.
- Practice: Provide
plenty of time for students to practice reading and do repeated readings of the
same stories or passages. It is a good idea to use tape players and have students
record themselves. Choral reading (everyone in the class reads together) and partner
reading (one student reads with another) will also spice up the reading routine
in your classroom!
- Modeling: Teachers should model
fluent reading every day and encourage students to practice doing the same. Students
who struggle with basic decoding skills may benefit from echo reading where the
teacher reads a short 3-5 word phrase and students echo the same phrase. By using
this method, the teacher is modeling and allowing emerging readers to practice,
all at the same time. This is an effective way of increasing students' confidence
levels, as well.
- Help: Teachers should assist in
developing self-correction skills by encouraging students to listen to themselves
read and monitor their own reading. After reading a selection, teach students to
ask themselves, "Did what I just read make sense?" It is also important for teachers
to demonstrate to students how to utilize illustrations, graphs, and captions to
help make sense of what they are reading.
Chalmers, Patricia. (2003). Developing Fluent Readers. Retrieved January
7, 2005, from Public Schools of North Carolina, School Improvement Division Web