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Fluent, Automatic Reading of Text

Being a fluent reader is an important part of being a successful reader. Here is an overview of considerations related to fluency, and techniques teachers can use for promoting fluency in the classroom.

Beginning readers must apply their decoding skills to fluent, automatic reading of text. Children who are reading with adequate fluency are much more likely to comprehend what they are reading.

Thus the concept of independent reading level is important: it is that level at which the child recognizes more than 95 percent of the words and can read without laboring over decoding.

Poor readers often read too slowly. Some poor readers have a specific problem with fluent, automatic text reading even though they have learned basic phonics.

Recent research has highlighted the value of specific classroom activities to build reading fluency in slow readers. Some useful techniques include:

  • Several readings of easy material to a tape recorder or partner,
  • Guided oral reading with teacher or partner feedback, and
  • Choral reading or simultaneous oral reading.

The idea of silent reading across a series of books at about the same difficulty level is thought to be helpful but is not so well supported by research.

Repeated reading techniques, however, are only effective if children can read the individual words in the selections with acceptable speed.

Word-by-word readers or those who sound out words with difficulty may need more basic instruction in fluent application of phonics to single words. Teachers need to know how to match instruction to individual needs.

Excerpted from: The Content of Professional Development. (November, 2000). Every Child Reading: A Professional Development Guide. Learning First Alliance. Reprinted with permission.

Copyright © 2000 by the Learning First Alliance. Learning First Alliance member organizations include: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Council of Chief State School Officers, Education Commission of the States, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, National School Boards Association. For more information, see
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