Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Fluency Fix-Up ; Using the STOP Strategy

Happy Summer!  
And Happy Back to School to those of you that have started your new year!

Today I am linking up with my friends from The Reading Crew to discuss all things fluency!  I have written several posts about fluency {both reading and writing} here on my blog, but today I want to share with you a brand new "fix up" strategy that I have been using with my "speedy readers" in grades 1-5.  

I'm sure that you have had readers in your classroom that read way too fast.  They may or may not make many miscues, but usually their comprehension suffers because of their rapid speed. It's as serious a problem as those that read too slow.

Mini Case Study

I'm going to use my 8 year old son as an example. He is entering third grade and reads at a level "P".  This was his level in early June at the end of second grade. I know he can read at higher levels {up to "R" at least} because I listen to him read every day and I have given him running records (goes along with having a mom for a teacher!).  However, his comprehension is very weak and very literal.  He struggles to give a summary, a retelling, or the main idea.  On the other hand, just today he gave a beautiful summary of the chapter I read aloud 3 days ago from the Flat Stanley book I am reading aloud at lunch time.

So, I definitely know that he is an auditory learner.  And I know that he races, speeds when he reads.  He makes many miscues, many omissions, and rarely self-corrects.  And then afterwards, he doesn't really know what he read.  When reminded, he will slow down.  When reminded, he will monitor his speed.  And I know that he will slow down during assessments such as running records. He takes those seriously. I also know that he reads too fast when reading independently, and consequently, his comprehension suffers.

The STOP Strategy

The strategy that I use with my son and other children that read too fast is the STOP strategy.  Now, awhile ago I read about something similar but it only had the STP letters and the wording was a little different.  Here is what I came up with to use with speedy readers.

Stop at the end of each paragraph/page
Think about what you read and how you read (speed)
Organize your thoughts.  Questions?  Understand?
Put it in your own words

When readers are speed reading, I usually say tongue and cheek, "I have to give you a speeding ticket".  There are several strategies I use, but very quickly I want to talk about this strategy.  This is developed for readers of all ages, but should be broken down into the different steps. Explicit instruction should be given for the "T", the "O", and the "P".  Built into this is a self-monitoring component for speed.  Students need to be aware of when they are reading too fast.  There are other strategies you can use like recording them reading, for example, so they can hear how they sound.  And of course they should hear examples of appropriate speed from either a read-aloud or from an audio book during a listening to reading center.  Once they know they are "speed reading", then they can adjust their speed and slow down or reread at a slower rate.

Also built into this is a self-monitoring for understanding. Do I understand or remember what I just read?  And if the answer is "no", then I need to reread.  I have my son stop at the end if each page for fiction/literature.  For nonfiction I'll have him stop at the end of long paragraphs or sections.  Eventually, my scaffolding should diminish and he should be monitoring completely on his own. And, hopefully, he will internalize all of this strategy work and it will become automatic. I also remind students many times that all of  these "reminders" are what good readers do.  In addition, I tell students that eventually all of this "talk" will be done silently in their brain, but for now while we are learning, it is helpful to talk out loud to a teacher or a buddy/partner.

That is it in a nutshell.  I have students glue the STOP page in their reading notebooks to reference later.  I sometimes will laminate the half sheet and have students use as a bookmark and they can check off the parts of the STOP strategy that they used that day.  When I am first teaching the strategy, I will have them circle the section that we are focusing on.  My readers (including my son) love the whole race car analogy, putting on the brakes, and getting speeding tickets. They like the STOP sign reminder as well.  It keeps it lighthearted and fun.

If you would like a copy of this strategy, just click the picture above or click here to download a copy on Google Drive.

Make sure you check out the other bloggers who posted about fluency by checking the linky below.  Do you have a fun fluency strategy to share?  Make sure you link up!

Pinterest Pin It!


  1. What a great strategy! This could be used with everyone from the highest to the lowest reader. I find that my low readers love it when they can do the same thing as those kids that they look up to, instead of being given something different. Thank you for the freebie.

    1. Thanks, Debbie! This really does work and like you said, it is versatile to work with a variety of readers. Thanks so much for stopping by. :-) Lauren

  2. Thank you for sharing this strategy! I am looking forward to using it with my students! :)
    Elementary Excellence

    1. You are so welcome! I had to include more metacognition for my 3rd grader since this type of thinking does not come naturally to him. Thanks so much for stopping by! :-) Lauren

  3. Thank you so much! This is exactly what I needed for a small group lesson to help with some of my readers :) Thank you thank you!


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