Reading fluency is one of the building blocks in developing successful readers. It is the link, or the bridge, between decoding and comprehension (Reading Rockets, n.d., Rasinski, 2019, 41:39). Rasinski (2014) defines reading fluency as having two main components:
automaticity in word recognition and expression in oral reading, which is also known as prosody. As an elementary school teacher for over 10 years, I am aware of the importance of the explicit teaching of reading fluency, alongside other core elements of reading instruction, such as phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary and comprehension.
Several instructional strategies have been proven to be highly effective in developing fluency among beginning readers. Assisted reading (Rasinski, 2014), for example, is a way of supporting fluency by having a fluent reader partner up with a beginning reader while both are accessing the same text and reading together. Another strategy, called repeated reading (Gormley & McDermott, 2014), takes place when a student is asked to read aloud the same reading material multiple times. This promotes smooth reading accompanied by accurate phrasing. Another well-known strategy is the use of Reader’s Theater (Reading Rockets, n.d.). When using this strategy, readers participate by reading scripts and is commonly done in partnerships or small groups. Each reader is assigned a role and after several rehearsals of the script without having to memorize the parts, students are invited to ‘perform’ it in front of an audience, usually their peers, and at times, parents are invited to come to watch. Last but not the least, phrasing (Rasinski, 2019, 41:39) helps students build fluency by having them read in 3-word to 4-word phrases to avoid word-for-word, robotic reading of sentences. Accurate phrasing and appropriate pauses help students chunk words that are related to each other.
Rapid advancements in technology have created many opportunities for students to build fluency using resources that are engaging, interesting and empowering for learners. These emerging digital tools also enable students to create an electronic portfolio where they can store personal artifacts, such as recorded samples of their reading and a personal library of reading passages, to help them set goals for themselves, keep track of their growth and celebrate the progress they have accomplished. ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], n.d.) Standards for Students 1.1 Empowered Learner 1.1.a states, “students articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.” An electronic learning platform, such as Seesaw (Seesaw, n.d.) allows students to add to their own electronic portfolio by choosing pictures, videos, and other school work that they would like to share with their teachers. Students can record themselves reading a passage and then upload it to Seesaw for teachers to view and provide feedback. Using the same platform, teachers can assign a collection of activities, or a choice board, to students. Students, in turn, have control over which activity they choose to do, and which artifact they would like to share.
Another digital tool called EPIC (EPIC, n.d.) helps students get excited about books. EPIC is a digital library of a wide variety of books, such as fiction and nonfiction, leveled and unleveled texts, learning videos, audiobooks, multilingual books and books that have a Read-to-Me option. This particular category of books helps students by allowing them to listen to a fluent reading of the text, in correspondence to a cursor tracking each word. Once they have listened to the reading multiple times, the reader can turn the voice off, and he/she can read the text on their own.
Collaboration tools motivate students to work hard and to submit completed work that reflects their best effort. A digital tool, such as Padlet (Padlet, n.d.) gives students multiple ways to share their work. They can record themselves as they share their ideas, or take a picture or share a video of their work in progress. Once students upload their work onto Padlet, it becomes visible to other students. They can give feedback, as well as receive feedback. This process demonstrates how ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education [ISTE], n.d.) Student Standard 1.1.c: “Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways” is at work.
There are many other digital tools that can be utilized to develop reading fluency. As other digital tools are created, tested and released to the public, our job as educators is to continue to empower students to take ownership of their learning, instill responsibility in their use of technology, and promote collaboration skills as they share their knowledge with the greater community.
EPIC. n.d. https://www.getepic.com/
International Society for Technology in Education. n.d. International standards: Students. https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students
Padlet. n.d. https://padlet.com/
Seesaw. n.d. Demonstrate and share learning. https://web.seesaw.me/
Reading Rockets. (n.d.). Fluency.
Gormley, K. & McDermott, P. (2014). Differentiating literacy instruction–there’s an app for that! Language and Literacy Spectrum, 24, 49-75.
Lambert, S. (Host). (2019, November). The importance of fluency instruction:Tim Rasinski. (1-04). [Audio Podcast Episode]. In Science of Reading: The Podcast. Amplify. https://open.spotify.com/episode/3zvJoFBcq9Q1xSlEdE01Fy
Rasinsky, T. (2014). Fluency matters. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, 7(1), 3-12. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1053609.pdf