This is the 2nd in a series on Fluency instruction I Periscoped about on the iteachtvnetwork. The first post is all about using expression, which is where I like to start when working on fluency with my students. You can see this blog post here:
The topic of this post, however is rate. Honestly, rate is a very important component of fluency, past reading level I or so. (Levels A-G are still at the beginning stages where the focus should be on decoding and integrating some phrasing and intonation… not rate.)
Concerns about rate at this stage should not be a focus.)
When at the appropriate stage of reading, readers cannot produce the words in a fluid fashion than meaning can be lost. Below is a page I created explaining the research and reasons behind the importance of rate.
Rate is extremely important, however we have to STOP teaching children that it IS the definition of fluency!
Actually, please do not take the timer out daily, especially for those that struggle to read. Rate will naturally happen if good fluency instruction is in place meaning we teach readers to:
1. Decode words independently
2. Express appropriately
3. Monitor their understanding
4. Enjoy reading!
Here’s a fun analogy to use with young readers. There are different rates for different reading situations. The chart below explains this.
Below are several ways to work on rate.
Caution: Try to vary these approaches. Drill and kill is not the motive here. Try to make them fun. Be sure students are comparing their scores to themselves and not only to a predetermined chart of norms. The idea is to look for individual growth and when students WPM scores are much lower than the norms, it is important that we remember the goal is growth not perfection. (Some students will never meet norms yet will be successful readers.) As a teacher, get to know your students and make sure you are providing the area of reading fluency your students need.
Fluency is NOT a one size fits all skill.
Note: I’m a reading specialist and I work daily with students who may never read at the proposed WPM norm, but who are very capable of becoming successful and independent readers. I guess a good rule of thumb would be teach the “whole” reader and all areas will blossom.:)
The trend in education seems to be increasing assessments and providing individualized instruction in the areas where students fall below. Many assessments are quick and only look for basic reading skills such as WPM. It is very important to get to know students as whole readers in order to provide them with the reading instruction they need. Although these assessments and scores are important be sure to look at your “slower” readers as whole readers before planning fluency instruction solely based upon rate. I’ve seen students placed into RTI programs based solely on WPM scores. I’ve also seen some of these students learn to hate reading due to drill and kill rate practice. I do not know a teacher anywhere that wants this to happen, yet it happens everyday. Since you are reading this post, I’m sure you are not one of them. Hopefully we can spread this word and keep it from happening to more children. One reader saved is worth millions!
Sorry for the rant, as you can tell it worries me and I’d like to spread the word so no child learns to hate reading due to a WPM score.
Bless you for sticking with me until the end. Your students are very lucky to have you:)
Until the next post…