The ability to read most words in context quickly and accurately and with appropriate expression. It is critical to reading comprehension because of the attention factor. Our brains can attend to a limited number of things at a time. If most of out attention is focused on decoding the words, there is little attention left for the comprehension part of reading – putting the words together and thinking about what they mean.
Ways to Help Struggling Readers
Make sure all your students are spending some of their time reading easy text – text in which they are interested, and thus have background knowledge, and text in which they can recognize 98-99% of the words.
Read an “everyone book” aloud. An “everyone book” is a book that everyone can read and that would be easy for even your struggling readers.
Have magazines. With magazines, it is not essential to read every word or article but the students can read the ones that interest them. Those high-interest articles will be easier to read because they are usually on a topic on which your struggling reader has a lot of background knowledge and vocabulary.
Independent reading is a critical daily component of a balanced reading program and should be devoted to students choosing something to read themselves.
Provide struggling readers with a lot of easy reading opportunities and watch them become fluent readers.
Echo reading is the perfect way to model expressive oral reading because in echo reading, your voice is the first voice and your students are trying to make their voice sound like yours. Echo reading is usually done one sentence at a time and is fun to do when the text has different voices.
Choral reading can be used when reading plays and students will read different roles. Students take turns reading different characters and when the play is done, students get different roles. Struggling readers can be assigned easier roles first and can then hear examples of the other students reading the more detailed roles.
One of the major ways that we become fluent readers is to read something over several times. The first time, a lot of our attention is on identifying the words. The second time, we are able to read in phrases as our brains puts the phrases together into meaningful units. The third time, we read more rapidly, with good expression and in a seemingly effortless way.
Fluency Development Lessons
The teacher chooses a short passage that is apt to be appealing to the students and reads the passage aloud several times, modeling fluent reading.
The teacher and the class do a choral reading of the poem. The poem is read chorally several times.
The children are paired and take turns reading the passage to each other. Each person reads the passage three times.
When the class gathers together again, the children can volunteer to read the passage aloud to everyone.
The children choose two or three words from the passage to ass to their personal word banks.
Children put one copy of the text in their poetry folder and are given a second copy to take home. They are encouraged to read the passage to whoever will listen.
The following day, the previous day’s passage is read again and then the whole cycle begins with a new passage. Once the class learns the routines the whole FDL can be completed in 15-20 minutes. FDLs are easy to do and enjoyed by both teachers and students.
Word walls consist of tricky words and high-frequency words that will help the students to become more fluent readers. Words should be introduced gradually – no more than 5-6 a week. The words should be practiced before being put up on the wall. Students can practice these words by chanting them and writing them, fun games can also be played with these words.
Of course, I will have a word wall in my classroom. I will also include reading to self time with easy to read books, read alouds with “everyone books,” and I also love the idea of the FDLs.
Cunningham, P. M. & Allington, R. L. (2011). Classrooms That Work: They Can All Read
and Write. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson