A Sure-Fire Way to Improve Reading Fluency
February 1, 2010
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Telling your students that they need to become fluent readers is an abstract concept that will help neither you nor your students. You can give them examples of what fluent readers do, model reading in a fluent way; but they will not truly understand the idea until they experience it themselves.
Learn by Doing
To get this first-hand experience, I had a fifth grade class bring in a book they were currently reading. They recorded themselves reading 2 pages of the book using Audacity and exported the file as an Mp3. The next lab session, they opened up the file and listened to themselves, and while they were listening, they rated their fluency using this Fluent Reader Self-Eval checklist.
Some things the students found out about their reading fluency from this activity were:
- Pace – some found they read too fast or too slow
- Expression – hearing themselves enabled them to decide whether or not their expression conveyed meaning
- Punctuation Signals – a lot of students forget to pause at comas and periods
- Voice Inflection – when reading narration or dialogue, it’s often difficult for students to change their voice. When they hear themselves reading, they really pick up on this.
You don’t need to use Audacity to record your students. Portable voice recorders can be used. Another idea is to have the students record their voice directly in a PowerPoint presentation and use the check list to add details about how their fluency can improve.
PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2003)
PowerPoint Voice Recording (v.2007)
Fluent Reader Checklist