It seems that every new piece of literature that comes down the pipeline speaks of reading for meaning, understanding the theme and climbing into the characters shoes in order to really “get” what lies in between the lines. And then the age old question resurfaces, “If the child is unable to fluently read the passage how can he/she “get” the meaning anyway?”
As a class this year we have explored a progressive set of skills based upon what each reader (from the most fluent to the pre-emergent) needs. The students have practiced daily shared reading, high frequency “snap words”, reading phrases, worked on individually selected word lists etc. As the students have grown the practices have grown with them. Our most recent endeavor has been a shared reading activity that is selected from a high level text and then worked on slowly with an emphasis on why fluency matters. Your readers desperately need to understand why. This instruction has been deliberately carried over into Reader’s Theatre, Partner Reading, Guided Reading, Strategy Groups and ultimately into the child’s silent independent reading time.
More and more research is being done to support the theory that fluency matters simply because it is the force that propels and controls the comprehension of the reader. As a teacher my struggles lay within what out of the box type of activities could be done that were really going to have a lasting impact. After reading The Fluent Reader by Timothy V. Rasinski and What Really Matters in Response to Intervention by Richard L. Allington I felt a breath of fresh air had blown into my classroom. My students and I have truly felt swept away by the techniques and insights I found in the books and it shows. If you are interesting and finding out more about why fluency matters pop into my classroom and I would be more than happy to lend you a copy of either of the text listed above. We would be delighted if you would embark on this journey with us. Knowledge is power and we mean to squeeze every last drop of greatness that this wind of change has brought to us.