Fluency: The Missing Link

One of my soapbox reading education topics is the decline in reading fluency due to the shortage of students hearing words read correctly. Mom & Dad are busier than ever and -gasp- perhaps they might not be the best oral readers themselves. Some students sit in a classroom where correct modeling might happen twice a day, the rest of the time they have to listen to Suzy struggling, haltingly through The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until they nod off at their desk.

I am here today to sing the praises of recorded stories. You can get almost any book in electronic or CD form. Load up those iPods! Play Diary of a Wimpy Kid from the car stereo! Let them HEAR good words told smoothly, with inflection, with panache, with proper grammatical pausing! Soapbox end :-)

For a more structured look at recorded reading, here are a few tips:

*Make sure your young reader has a copy of the recording. It is important to make a connection with the text and the sounds. The struggling reader might start to daydream, but re-center them on the page when necessary.

*Pause frequently to discuss the story. Ask what is happening. See if they caught little hints and funny spots. Ask them how they know what they know (what in the text gave it away). Make predictions about what will happen next.

*Have the reader reread the last section aloud. Do not stop them if they fumble, but assist if they get stuck. Never ever criticize the reader. EVER. If they struggle, ask what was hard for them and would they like to listen to that section again?

*For younger students, read aloud along with them in a chanting sort of manner. This works especially well with poetry/rhymes and song lyrics.

Although NCLB covers repeated readings and silent reading as ways to improve fluency, I feel that just listening to positive models is one of the easiest ways to improve fluency. I have met a ton of kids who tell me that their parent never reads to them and that they have never, really, heard the way reading should sound (not enough to feel comfortable, anyway).

So next time you are trying to entertain them as you drive about, instead of popping in a DVD, pop a CD in the stereo :-)
© 2007-2009 Cheryl Vanatti for:

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