Evidence-based Reading Instruction: Fluency: Research and Teaching Strategies

S. Ianiro
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Instructional Material
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It is important to note that this series of four resources for each of the four components of reading -- alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension – contains digests, not comprehensive descriptions of the components. Each research digest provides a definition of the component, the need for the component, how to assess the component, how to teach and learn the component, teaching strategies, suggestions for professional development, and additional resources. The value of these digests is that they provide a snap shot introduction to the four components of reading that may be helpful to a teacher new to teaching reading to adults. They also provide some resources to extend learning. The article provides simple assessments for accuracy and prosody. The strategies include: guided oral reading, echo reading, read along, pair reading, and reader’s theater.

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What the experts say

Three experts reviewed this resource. Two recommended it and one had reservations.

The resource is helpful in teaching instructors how to teach fluency which is often neglected in adult education classes. Even though fluency is one of the components of reading, it is probably the least known among teachers. The resource not only provides specific strategies for teaching fluency, but it also provides supporting research, references and further instructional resources. It should be stressed that fluency is best developed using easy-to-read materials (at the independent reading level) rather than those that the student might have to struggle to read.

This research digest provides clear and concise information about fluency: definition, research, assessment and instructional suggestions. The assessment and instructional suggestions are well described. For those reasons the digest is valuable. Another expert felt that the approach is generic and top-down and has limited usefulness.

Like most descriptions of fluency designed for teachers this digest suggests a need for significant instruction in fluent reading. In some cases, I have found that teachers often spend more time and energy on fluency than is really necessary. This resource heavily depends on a classroom model with phrases like “daily practice” and “work throughout the school year” which hard pressed teachers in Adult ESL will find hard to relate to. While the idea of using oral reading inventories is good, many ABE teachers do not have time for this detailed analysis of learner skills and it is almost impossible with non-readers.