Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Comprehension Strategy Linky: How Fluency Affects Reading Comprehension

Hello from Comprehension Connection!  

My name is Carla, and Lauren and I have done a switcheroo for today.  We are both reading specialists and located each other through a fellow blogger friend.  Since we both are passionate about reading comprehension, we decided to focus our posts today on how reading fluency impacts reading comprehension. If you're looking for ideas to beef up the way you address fluency during language arts block, read on, and after you complete this post, hop over to my blog by clicking on the link attached to the button below to read what's on Lauren's mind today.  Now, on to today's topic!


To begin, it's important to understand how all readers develop skills, and I mean all readers including children with reading struggles or special needs.  Reading develops in the same order for all...emergent/alphabetic stage, beginning/letter name stage, transition/within word stage, and instruction stage.  When children begin school, they are at the emergent reader stage.  This stage lasts typically through kindergarten, but can last longer.  During this stage, readers develop a concept of print, the letter name-sound connection, phonological awareness, and most importantly a concept of word meaning the correspondence between what is spoken and the print on the page (accurate pointing).  Once COW is achieved, the reader moves to the letter-name or beginning reader stage.  

At the letter-name/beginning reader stage, building phonics skills, a sight vocabulary, and fluency is the goal. Readers continue to point, but now they are learning to use strategies to decode words. Activities that work well for this stage are any word building and word sorting activity at the child's developmental level, sightword games and activities to develop fluency, poetry and partner reading for fluency, use of decodable readers, and writing about reading.  Framed paragraphs work very well for this stage.  

Students transition to instructional readers at approximately second grade or at the Within Word stage.  At this stage, fluency is the focus.  Students are developing phonics skills for all vowel pattern in single syllable words.  They are still reading orally, but they are no longer pointing unless the text is too hard.  At the end of this stage, they begin to prefer silent reading more as their prosody or reading speed picks up.

At the final stage of reading development, we have instructional readers, and the focus at this stage is comprehension and vocabulary development.  This stage can begin as early as second grade.  At this point, teaching students comprehension strategies to use before, during, and after reading is the key to understanding.  However, we must not ignore the other components of reading as lagging decoding and fluency skills can cause the reader to have a break in comprehension.  (I love using the terms to describe this as clicking or clunking.  If all is well, you're clicking along.  If you reach a problem, there's a clunk.)  Breaks in comprehension cause students to miss important information.

So how can we address fluency to ensure our readers click along?  Well, one of my favorite strategies to build fluency is repeated reading of poetry.  With poetry, we can do many print strategies and strategies to develop expression.  I usually use echo reading to introduce a poem to my groups.  As I model line by line, we use either slash marks or highlighters to divide lines into phrases.  We may also box important sightwords and new vocabulary in order to make reading flow.  In addition to these ideas, word hunts using the poems assist students develop automaticity or automatic word recognition. Here are a few of the poetry pages I've used with my students that you might try using with yours.

Another great strategy I've found for older readers is to use a recording app on my phone or with an I-pod to record my students reading.  With the recordings, you can teach students to take running records of each other reading and eventually help them to do timed repeated readings which has been shown to be very effective at increasing reading rate, improving accuracy, and building automaticity.  

Finally, I thought I'd highlight the value in using Reader's Theater for both fluency and comprehension.  One great blog post worth more than a look is Mandy's Tips for Teacher's post about Reader's Theater usage, but I also wanted share a twist on Reader's Theater called Radio Reading.  With both strategies, students practice a script by rereading to build expression and fluency, but with Radio Reading, the students record their reading similar to how a radio producer would do.  The material is practiced multiple times prior to recording, and once recorded, the recordings are shared with the class.  Radio reading can be done with a report, nonfiction article, book review, or other writing of choice individually, with a partner, or even with a group. Additionally, comprehension strategies may be able to be incorporated too.  

So what ideas do you love to use for comprehension?  Do you have other fluency related strategies that you've either created or love to use?  Feel free to jump in and share them as part of my Comprehension Strategy Linky by blogging about the strategy and linkying your post to the linky tool below.

Thanks Lauren for allowing me to trade places today.  I look forward to reading more great things on your blog! Happy reading all!

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