What Is Reading Fluency?
Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, efficiently, and with appropriate expression. Fluent readers must have the ability to process text well on a surface level through automatic word recognition and efficient decoding of new words. Fluent readers must also be able to process text on a deeper level so that they can adjust their pacing for punctuation and their tone for what is going on in the text. While not discussed within the science of reading as much as direct phonics instruction, fluency is still a vital part of the science of reading.
What Is Silent Reading Fluency?
Silent reading fluency follows along the same lines as reading fluency. Students who have silent reading fluency are able to read accurately and efficiently while they read to themselves. They are also able to concentrate appropriately and to monitor their comprehension as they read.
Why Is Reading Fluency Important?
Fluency is the key to reading comprehension. It is the skill that bridges the gap between decoding and comprehension. It becomes especially important as children move from learning to read to reading to learn. A student who cannot read grade level text fluently will struggle to understand their social studies and science texts, for example.
How Can Educational Publishers Help Students Improve Their Reading Fluency?
The National Reading Panel reviewed the research on the effectiveness of fluency strategies in the landmark study. They found that guided oral reading practices had a much bigger impact on fluency (and ultimately comprehension) than time spent reading independently, especially for early readers. Some oral reading practices that publishers can include in their curricula include:
- Paired Reading: A peer, tutor, or other fluent reader models reading an independent level text fluently, then the student reads the text to the fluent reader. This can be done sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph or with even longer texts for older students.
- Reader’s Theater: Students “perform” a text after practicing it many times. This can be done with poems, jokes, speeches, and plays. Students can work independently, in small groups, or with the whole class.
- Choral Reading: Students read together as a class or group. They can repeat a passage after a teacher reads it, read a new passage together, or groups can read different sections.
- Taped Reading: A reader listens to an audio recording of a fluent reader reading the text. The student can then practice reading along with the tape or read the same text independently after listening.
- Guided Reading: A teacher or tutor listens as a student reads and provides targeted, specific coaching on how the student can improve their fluency.
How Can Educational Publishers Help Students Improve Their Silent Reading Fluency?
In addition to the strategies above that help with general fluency, there are a few things publishers can do to promote silent reading fluency specifically. Some of these include:
- Providing ways to preview vocabulary
- Offering students many types of text and literature genres
- Giving direct instruction on mindful silent reading strategies
- Creating opportunities to motivate students through post-reading discussions
- Encouraging reading with a purpose as part of a larger project or inquiry
In conclusion, improving students’ oral and silent reading fluency is an important goal for educational publishers. By emphasizing practice, providing feedback, incorporating technology, and making fluency development fun, publishers can help students achieve success in reading. By integrating fluency with other reading skills, publishers can ensure that students develop a strong foundation for reading success.