Literacy Corner: How to Teach Fluency So That It Takes

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[Source: Reading Rockets]

by Timothy Shanahan

Teacher question

I have a question regarding my school’s reading program. My question today is about the reading portion of our literacy block and most specifically the partner reading and independent reading.

I’m finding that my homogenous group of fourth-grade students aren’t fluent readers. The routine expectation is that partners take turns reading a paragraph at a time. The partner who is following along and not reading aloud is to provide a brief summary of what was read by the partner before reading the next paragraph. I love this, except that my students aren’t fluent readers, so I feel that first the comprehension is low because of non-fluent reading, and second the time is a bit wasted because of the lack of fluency and therefore comprehension. After students do their partner reading, they read the next couple pages independently. Again they aren’t fluent, so it’s taking quite awhile. I feel that comprehension is low.  

Shanahan’s response

Fluency instruction can be valuable with fourth-graders (and with lots of other kids in grades 1-12)—it can help them to decode better, read more fluently, and improve reading comprehension.

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