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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Putting fluency in its place

September 17, 2007

For six years I trained and observed preservice elementary education students. I vividly remember one lesson, observing a student teacher whose lesson plan included using timed repeated readings to increase her students' reading speed.

Everything started off well until I saw the text she planned to use: A POEM. For timed repeated readings! I watched as she worked with students one-on-one using some of her favorite Shel Silverstein poems and a bar graph.

Can you guess what we talked about during her post-observation conference? Fluency and text, and the role of comprehension in fluency. Good topics, eh?

I was reminded of that episode this week as I ran across this on the IRA website. The author is clearly trying to help teachers understand that speed is important, but it's not everything. As with many things, fluency work has its place in developing readers who can read with expression AND understand what they've read.

The Florida Center for Reading Research offers this handy graphic to help teachers see what types of activities develop fluency, and a continuum of activities that progress as students' skill level increases.

How do you balance fluency and comprehension work in your classroom? I'd love to hear!

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