Reading fluency, the ability to read quickly and accurately, is important to develop good reading comprehension skills. Students who read fluently can focus on the ideas behind the words rather than the words themselves. This helps them both understand and retain what they have read. Many children with dyslexia struggle with reading fluency, reading slowly, stopping to sound out each word, skip over words or substitute similar words. Because of this, they frequently have poor reading comprehension.
There are a number of strategies teachers can incorporate in their classrooms to help students with dyslexia develop better reading fluency.
Model Good Reading
The more you model good reading by reading aloud, the more your students will understand what fluent reading sounds like. Use lots of expression, pause to accentuate a point in the story and vary your speed and tone to match the meaning of the words. Incorporating different types of writing, such as stories, fairy tales, poems or narratives, helps students see how you use different tones depending on what is being read.
Discuss with the class your reading style. How did they know you were excited? What made them believe you were scared? These discussions can help students understand how tone of voice can change the meaning of words and keep the listener interested in the story.
Choral Reading: Reading as a Group
Reading fluency takes practice and students struggling with reading are often hesitant to read aloud in class. Instead of asking one student to read, use an overhead projector to put the words of a poem on the board. First, you read a line, and then have the class, as a whole, read the line. Do this line by line, then read the poem in its entirety together. Students who worry about reading in front of the class may be more apt to read along as part of a group. This gives all of your students practice in reading aloud.
Poetry is an excellent way to teach rhythm and rate. Excellent poems to use as a group are those of Shel Silverstein and Jack Perlusky.
Record Before and After Readings
Select short (no longer than one minute) poems or stories for students to read. Record each student as he or she reads it for the first time. Let them practice reading it, adding expression, over several days. You might also want to send it home for them to practice reading it in front of parents. Help struggling students to add inflection to their voice to add interest to their reading. Once the students have practiced, record their reading again and let them see the difference between the before and after recordings.
Have students read the same selection several times to become more familiar with high-frequency words. Use the same selection for several days before moving on to a new selection. Instead of using selections, you can use a list of high-frequency words and have the student read through the list every day.
Follow Along in the Text
Provide the class with a written text of what you are reading and have them follow along with their fingers as you are reading. This helps the students connect the words on the page to the sound of the words and helps them connect the different tones and inflections in your voice with the written text. You can use this method by providing audio books along with the written text of a book and have the student follow along with the recording, at first with their finger and as they continue to listen, students can read aloud along with the recording.
Use five or six high-frequency words and repeat them in different order. For example:
- This, them, too, the, these, those
- Those, the, too, them, this, these
- Too, the, these, this, those, them
The student will need to look carefully at each word and recognize the different words quickly.
Create a Set Reading Time
Set aside 10 minutes of every school day for silent reading. Let the students choose what they want to read. This can be from a magazine, a book or a collection of poems. Allowing students to choose their own reading material will help them develop an interest in reading. Have students share a sentence or two about what they read. Teachers can use this time to allow independent readers to read alone and work closely with other students, allowing them to read out loud to the teacher or a classroom aid.
Developing Fluent Readers, 2008,Jan Hasbrouck, Reading Rockets
Fluency: Instructional Guidelines and Student Activities,2002, Texas Education Agency
The Fluent Reader: Oral Reading Strategies for Building Word Recognition, 2008, Timothy V. Rasinski, Scholastic Inc.