How to Develop Fluent Readers

Fluency in reading has to do with a reader’s ability to recognize words quickly and accurately. To become fluent, have students read and re-read articles and allow them to read out loud. The teacher’s role will be to facilitate and give necessary corrections where it is needed.

There are various methods to consider. It is not the age or grade level, but the student’s current reading ability will determine which method will be used. The teachers will determine whether students are at the beginner level, on-level, or struggling.

The Methods

For beginners: readers at this level need a solid foundation of word recognition and word analysis. The main goal of this method is to help students become proficient and skilled readers. These skills can be honed by having students read words accurately through various activities and exercises.

On-level readers: there are a few methods that can be used to help further the development of on-level readers. (1) Choral reading is when everyone in the group reads a text together with the teacher. From time-to-time, the teacher may pause to pose questions, correct pronunciations, or comment on the text. Much like choral reading, (2) cloze reading is when the teacher takes the lead.

The teacher reads the text out loud while the class follows by reading silently. The teacher will omit a word every few sentences, and the class will have to read the word out loud. (3) Partner reading is for pair of students. They will take turns reading and are free to give feedback and ask questions about what was read aloud. Experts suggest that the teacher assign the pairing and teach the students how to receive and give feedback before partner reading.

For struggling learners: the needs of struggling learners is vastly different from beginners and on-level. They need a bit more assistance and carefully planned activities to maximize the learning opportunity. This method requires specific steps, which is explained below:

  1. Cold reading – a student will choose a text with about 100 for grades 1 and 2 and up to 350 words for sixth graders. Students will read the text one student at a time. During each turn, students will keep track of time and mark the words that they mispronounce or skip.
  1. Modeling – the students will read the same text while following the lead of a “model” (perhaps a teacher). The student will focus on how the model pronounces the words. The model will make sure to remind the student to follow along with the written text. This step can happen about three to four times and is not timed.
  1. Independent reading –  when students become more confident with their reading, they can move on to this phase. A timer will be set for one minute. The student will read the text and attempt to read it within the time limit. This can happen several times.

Final Thoughts

Please bear in mind that fluency is just one facet of reading. There is a lot that we have yet to learn about fluency in reading. Accurate reading, correct pronunciation, and having the appropriate expression help convey the message of a given text. The correct choice of text to read is critical when using the method mentioned above.

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